Personal life

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See life (disambiguation) for other senses of the word.

Personal life (or everyday life or human existence) is the course of an individual human's life, especially when viewed as the sum of personal choices contributing to one's personal identity. It is a common notion in modern existence -- although more so in more prosperous parts of the world, such as Western Europe and North America, where there are service industries designed to help people improve their personal lives via counselling or life coaching.

In the past, before abundance and technology, a person's life consisted almost entirely of survival of both self and community; food needed to be harvested and shelters needed to be maintained. There was little privacy in a community, and people were identified by jobs at which they worked out of necessity arising from circumstances rather than personal choice of profession.

In our present time, survival issues are still dominant in many countries and societies. For example, the continents of Africa and Asia are still largely mired in poverty and third-world conditions, without technology, secure shelter, or reliable food sources. In such places, the concepts of a "personal life," "self-actualization," "personal fulfillment," or "privacy" are unaffordable luxuries.

As well, there is a cultural component to the notion of a personal life. In the United States, especially, privacy is very highly valued. The importance of the individual, of becoming what you want to be, of reinventing oneself, is part of the fabric of American society. Indeed, the two central American documents -- the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution -- explicitly raise the pursuit of happiness and the expectation of privacy to the level of rights.

In modern times, many people have come to think of their personal lives as separate from their work (see also Marx's theory of alienation). Work and recreation are distinct; one is either on the job or not, and the transition is abrupt. Employees have certain hours they are bound to work, and work during recreational time is rare. This may be related to the continuing specialization of jobs and the demand for increased efficiency, both at work and at home. A common phrase demonstrating this is "Work hard, play hard". There is a growing trend, however, toward living more holistically and minimizing such rigid distinctions between work and play.

A "life" as a whole may seem morally "good" or "bad", and become characterised as such. It (or part of it) may find literary reflection in a biography, an autobiography or a memoir. Some outstanding lives merit hagiography or a vita.

The career from birth to death is not always a uniform "daily life". Many people separate their overall lives into individual strands: their "intellectual lives", their "working lives", their "family lives" and their "sex lives". The religiously inclined may have "spiritual lives" or "religious lives" intertwined with their everyday activities; they sometimes also expect an afterlife (for some the most important thing). In the interim, those who can afford to pause and to do so may adopt a lifestyle or assess their quality of life.

Some doubts, however, may assail the would-be life-conductor. Acquaintances may encourage such to "get a life" - in the sense of promoting fuller participation in human (especially socially approved) activities - often outside one's own personally-defined life. Certain cultures, some defined by state or corporate agencies, encourage individuals to submerge themselves in collective wholes: mass movements or teams - on the sportsfield or in the workplace.

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Personal life

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