In Defence of Lifestyle Trends
Lifestyle trends are the thing everyone loves to hate. Those who adopt them think of themselves as mindful and ultra-woke and those who reject them, think that none of that well-advertised shit is worth a dime because, well… why wouldn’t have anyone come up with any of that earlier? If meditation has been around for thousands of years, why on Earth did you only start to meditate when #mindfulness became a trending hashtag? Let’s talk about it.
by VAIDA KALKAUSKAITE
illustrations by AUSTE DZIKARAITE
Actually, lifestyle trends have been around since the very dawn of humankind. They were not flooding the world at the speed of light like they are now and there was definitely no social media involved but people always wanted to know the secret to their neighbour’s glowing skin, abundant dinner table and that one parenting trick that gets their child to actually sleep at night. Plus, whatever we call ‘traditions’ now, were once just something someone incorporated into their lives and it just sort of *clicked*. For example, since Christmas was like five minutes ago, let’s think about Christmas traditions. It may or may not be new for you but most of the Christmas traditions that we find unshakeable, actually, only came about less than two hundred years ago. And the source of (most) all that Christmas magic and glittering everything was a short novella by Charles Dickens, called “A Christmas Carol”. Yes, he was the guy who made everyone open their homes (in a very broad sense) to Christmas trees, Christmas presents, Santa Claus (a mix of a whole bunch of folkloric characters), the gotta-have-it Christmas + snow combo and the element of giving and generosity that people didn’t care too much about anymore and that Dickens, as a Christian, cherished so much. Since the entire first edition of “A Christmas Carol” was sold out in one day, no wonder the rest changed the Most Wonderful Time of the Year forever. But what about us? Why should we join the trend craze? What’s so charming about running around town, looking for the new ‘it’ superfood or meditation pillow?
The habit bird
You’re not a morning person. You’re also not an evening person. You’re a habit person. The greater part of what you consider to be your oh so unique personality is a bundle of habits that you formed or that have been formed for you by whoever had authority over you (parents, teachers, you name it…). As creatures of habit, we find it hard to adopt something new. Even those who speak of themselves as adrenaline junkies and globetrotters usually have something that keeps them somehow grounded, the one thing that gives their life a bit of consistency and safety. It’s human and nothing to be ashamed of. According to popular psychology, it takes a minimum of three weeks to form a habit. A more recent study that I’ve come about states that it actually takes more than two months and sometimes even longer. Whatever the time frame, it definitely doesn’t happen overnight as the date changes from December 31st to January 1st. Yes, I’m sorry too.
Our habits and even thought-patterns form certain connections in our brains which start as tiny threads and become thicker and thicker as we repeat whatever we constantly do. Before we know it, we think and act on autopilot. Most of the thoughts we think are the same thoughts we thought about yesterday. We open the doors in the same way and answer the phone in the same manner. And it’s ok that we don’t have to consciously remind ourselves to put the seatbelts on and our hands simply do it for us. But when it comes to our self-development, creative ambitions and the like, it gets a lot trickier. Those thick steel-strong connections in our brains are very hard to flex. I will not get into the neuroscientific part of the difficulty of adopting a new habit or a new way of thinking but you definitely should because it’s both, creepy and eye-opening.
Where am I going with this? A new lifestyle choice = a new habit. Usually, a good habit. You see, unlike fashion trends, that come for a season and are imposed on us by a few chosen power figures, lifestyle trends come to stay. No lifestyle advice worth following will promise you instant results (or, may I say, Insta-results). Whatever it is that you choose, whether it be meditation, matcha, veganism, minimalism, Korean skincare, yoga, barre, decaf, kombucha, soul cycle, food prepping or whatever, you will not feel a change overnight. You need to stick with it. To put some effort. And effort is good. Effort is beautiful. Effort is oh so very sexy!
Since the best lifestyle trends don’t usually come from a power figure (like Anna Wintour or Olivier Rousteing) but are carried within entire tribes of people (gathered under one name, one roof or at least one hashtag), you can often see that those who adopt them are ride or die. They will offer you scientific evidence, success stories, before-and-after, etc.. Most lifestyle trends aren’t just some side-hustles. The really good ones turn into movements.
Let’s get back to the question we talked about in the very beginning. If all these trends were so amazing, why did they only become trendy now? Well, the answer is both very simple and very complex. As complex as the topic of globalization and economic growth. First things first. Let’s pick a food trend. For example, chia seeds. It’s not like they appeared out of thin air. Chia seeds are native to Mexico and Guatemala. They made it to the mainstream U.S. market only about 35 years ago. By 2010, 27% of U.S. consumers already knew what chia seeds were. And when something starts trending in the U.S., the rest of the world is soon to follow. And since we no longer need our version of Columbus to bring us the never-seen-before goods to our harbours and knowledge travels in the speed of light, those tiny little seeds reached Europe and started spreading (well, started being spread). Even though it used to take a bit longer for trends to reach the Baltic region and other post-soviet countries, now, in the age of social media, we can finally be the first to know. And, we can finally afford not only knowing, but also trying.
Free access to information allows us to research anything we want. From scientific articles to cosmo-level, “she did it and so can you” lights reads, everything is finally available. Don’t say you never rolled your eyes at your grandma when she told you she gets all her info from the mainstream news. And yes, even though I think a huge batch of lifestyle trends are worth trying, research is your best friend.
The main reason for researching everything (always always always ask ‘why’) is that usually behind every piece of lifestyle advice lays a motive. Some of them (and I would even say most of them) are pure as crystals and fresh snow. The others, not so much. The part where things get really tricky is social media and its royalty – the influencers. They’re charming, fun, good-looking and really good at selling shit. Because, as we all know, they don’t sell products. They sell a promise of a better life. Once you get the product, you will be able to live the life you see on their account. I know this is marketing 101. This topic seems so old and drenched, it’s so yesterday, that even the word ‘millennial’ is fresher. And yet, we keep biting the same bait over and over again. If you follow an influencer, make sure to follow their money as well. And even though some of them became decent enough to add the hashtag #ad to their paid-for posts, most of them still want to make you believe that they really wanna waste their caption space on an honest brand review. Be smart. Being smart is not a trend. It’s a fuckin’ classic.
What do I subscribe to?
I’m no influencer but boy do I try to influence. If someone paid me for blabbering about the lifestyle trends I follow, I would be on my way to Big Sur in my pink Tesla (Google that thing, you’ll understand what I’m saying). Since I’m not doing that, be sure, nobody pays me for the aforementioned blabbering. Most of the trends that I adopted, I stand by on my own right. I found out about most of them from social media, popular blogs, etc. After they caught my interest, the era of my own research began and, obviously, I’m very into research. Some things stuck with me, others didn’t but the ones that did, changed my habits and my ways significantly.
I guess one of the best things about the things people have been rooting for online is that a great part of them benefit so much more people than the person who takes them on. One of my favourites – minimalism which does not only help you declutter your home and your mind but is also a good fight against consumerism, waste, fast fashion and many other hazardous things that speed up our planet’s journey to doomsday. My favourite food trend is definitely matcha which helped me get off caffeine and rid my body of that extra cortisol (stress hormone) which it surely doesn’t need at all whatsoever. Meditation opened my mind and keeps teaching me freedom. Veganism came to my life before it became trendy but I’m not even gonna start on how great of a change it was for me and those around me. This piece of writing isn’t about that.
It’s about the fact that sometimes things become trendy and popular for honest reasons. We’re so caught up in the idea of standing out from the crowd we don’t even realize it only puts us in another crowd – the crowd of skeptics and secret lovers of status quo. Every time you argue against a trend, think deeply about why you do it? Is it because you know something about it and want others to know it too or is it because you’re just very into defending whatever lifestyle you have just to avoid any changes. Becoming a part of a movement, doing something for the planet, taking self-care to new and undiscovered territories, that’s what lifestyle trends are all about. And I’ll defend that any day of the week.