Everyday life

The phrases everyday life, daily life and routine life reference the ways in which people typically act, think, and feel on a daily basis. Everyday life may be described as mundane, routine, natural or habitual. Sometimes it is called normality.

Human diurnality means most people sleep at least part of the night and are active in daytime. Most eat two or three meals in a day. Working time (apart from shift work) mostly involves a daily schedule, beginning in the morning. This produces the daily rush hours experienced by many millions, and the drive time experienced by radio broadcasters. Evening is often leisure time. Bathing every day is a custom for many.

Beyond these broad similarities, different people spend their days differently. Nomadic life differs from sedentism, and among the sedentary, urban people live differently from ruralfolk. Differences in the lives of the rich and the poor, or between factory workers and intellectuals, may go beyond their working hours. Many women spend their day in activities greatly different from those of men, and everywhere children do different things than adults.

Sociological perspectives

Everyday life is a key concept in cultural studies and is a specialized subject in the field of sociology. The argument is that, motivated by capitalism and industrialism’s degrading effects on human existence and perception, writers and artists of the 19th century turned more towards personal reflection and the portrayal of everyday life represented in their writings and art to a noticeably greater degree than in past works. Though other theorists dispute this argument merely based on a long history of writings about daily life which can be seen in works from Ancient Greece, Medieval Christianity and the Catholic Enlightenment.

In the study of everyday life gender has been an important factor in its conceptions. Some theorists regard women as the quintessential representatives and victims of everyday life. The connotation of everyday life is often negative and is distinctively separated from exceptional moments by its lack of distinction and differentiation, ultimately defined as the essential, taken-for-granted continuum of mundane activity that outlines forays into more esoteric experiences. It is the non-negotiable reality that exists amongst all social groupings without discrimination and is an unavoidable basis for which all human endeavor exists.

Much of everyday life is automatic in that it is driven by current environmental features as mediated by automatic cognitive processing of those features, and without any mediation by conscious choice.


People’s everyday lives are shaped through language and communication. They choose what to do with their time based on opinions and ideals formed through the discourse they are exposed to. A lot of the dialogue people are subject to comes from the mass media, and is an important factor in what shapes human experience. The media uses language to make an impact on one’s everyday life, whether that be as small as helping to decide where to eat or as big as choosing a representative in government.

To improve people’s everyday life, Phaedra Pezzullo, professor in the Department of Communication and Culture at Indiana University Bloomington, says people should seek to understand the rhetoric that so often and unnoticeably changes their lives. She writes that “…rhetoric enables us to make connections… It’s about understanding how we engage with the world.


Activities of daily living (ADL) is a term used in healthcare to refer to daily self care activities within an individual’s place of residence, in outdoor environments, or both. Health professionals routinely refer to the ability or inability to perform ADLs as a measurement of the functional status of a person, particularly in regard to people with disabilities and the elderly.ADLs are defined as “the things we normally do…such as feeding ourselves, bathing, dressing, grooming, work, homemaking, and leisure. The ability and the extent to which the elderly can perform these activities is at the focus of gerontology and understandings of later life. In an ‘active society’ which sees mobility as an important norm, constant physical activity has replaced the striving towards personal growth in later life.


Daily entertainment once consisted mainly of telling stories in the evening. This custom developed into the Theatre of ancient Greece and other professional entertainments. Reading later became less a mysterious specialty of scholars, and more a common pleasure for people who could afford books. During the 20th century mass media became prevalent in rich countries, creating among other things a daily prime time to consume fiction and other professionally produced works.

Different media forms serve different purposes in different individuals’ everyday lives—which give people the opportunities to make choices about what media form(s)–watching television, using the Internet, listening to the radio, or reading newspapers or magazines—most effectively help them to accomplish their tasks. Some people, however, increasingly use the Internet more often every day—and over all other media forms. Conservatives have long feared mass entertainment, calling television a vast wasteland and predicting that social media and other Internet sites would distract people from good personal relationships or valuable interactions. These concerns did not prevent the widening popularity of these innovations.

Marvel at devices

Too often we treat our iPhones, tablets, and computers like bothersome intruders or numbing gadgets. Or we take wonders like lightbulbs, toilets, fridges, and airplanes for granted. Instead, pause and consider the sheer human brilliance that brought us such powerful devices. Marvelling at our modern-day experience rather than being numbed by it can make us happier and more productive in life.

Human beings spend about 50% of our time thinking about something other than what we are doing. And at work our minds stray as often—almost always toward non-work-related concerns.

And here the research brings the irony into sharp focus: According to Killingsworth’s findings, when our minds wander from our immediate experience, what we are considering is almost always more distressful than the actual experience we’re having. In essence, we spend a lot of our time ignoring our prosperous circumstances while giving birth to the very distress we’re seeking to avoid. This is where mindfulness-awareness meditation comes in.


Meditation teaches many things. One of the core effects is we become utterly familiar with our immediate experience. Whether tragic or triumphant; exquisite or horrifying; painful or pleasurable, meditation liberates our hearts and minds to savor life as a “lived experience” rather than a mental rehearsal of thoughts, ambitions, hopes, and fears. And it’s here in our willingness to open to life that we can realize our profound prosperity—not as an “economic fact” but as a remarkable lived experience.