Materialism has a negative connotation, because it defines a stuff-centric society where one’s happiness, value, achievement, and status can be measured by accumulation of goods. In lay terms, materialism means we measure each other based on what we drive, wear, etc.
America, by most critiques, is the birthplace and perennial poster child for modern materialism. Our malls are full every weekend, and we consume more luxury cars than any other market on the planet. Miami is actually the strongest luxury car market in the country – a dubious distinction paired with the city’s terrible traffic.
Asian countries like Japan and China are also known for selective conspicuous consumption, like with luxury fashion (greatest concentration of luxury boutiques in the world).
At some point, my own love of stuff began to conflict with other possible uses of my finite funds. Namely, travel and activities, rather than tangibles, became apparent.
“Driving a beautiful, engaging car is itself an experience” – local psychiatrist friend. So is a perfectly-fitting v-neck tee (see above), or an aromatic, bright, buttery wallet.
If you view and appreciate high-quality objects, in whatever form they come, you experience sensory engagement when you wear…drive…smell…hold them.
There is a diminishing marginal dopamine factor to both things and experiences. As my dad has expressed: if you had unlimited funds, you would probably shop all the time, buy lots of stuff that you never wear (or love), and end up with a diluted, wasteful closet. Word, daddy-o.
Likewise…after too much travel or activity, if you’re introverted, you’re left exhausted, irritable, and ready for R&R in your own bed, at home (surrounded by your beautiful clothes). Amirite??
In this situation, a spectrum with two extreme end points is appropriate. Few people are entirely devoted to one or the other. Most of us are somewhere in the middle, allocating certain disposable income to more travel than shopping, more stuff than experiences, or a balance of the two.
Because I don’t have an unlimited budget, I think I want more, and want to do more (like go to Austin, Nashville, NY…the list is long). But do I really? Maybe I would hate having that much choice to make. (ha, ha. Not)
No one should be spending all their funds on new clothes, or on constant travel. Having elements of both, that engage all the senses and parts of the brain, will maintain a happy heart and mind. So decide what is important to you. Experiment, try new approaches to spending.
And don’t let anyone tell you you’re a filthy mall rat. Because those trips can be just as cathartic as a therapeutic massage. Or in the life of Alex English yesterday, both were great.