Luxury is a reward until it becomes a paid weakness.

Luxury is a reward until it becomes a paid weakness.

I shall be the first to admit that Mr. Money Mustache enjoys a few extravagances. I’m doing it right now, with my fingers gliding over a polished aluminum keyboard as the letters appear immediately on the 1920 x 1080 pixel panel of this feathery “ultrabook” laptop. My belly is comfortably full from a breakfast of espresso with frothed organic milk, almonds, mangoes, and avocados as I sit on the front porch of my luxurious home, gazing over the hundreds of beautiful plants in the front yard. Aren’t I considered as Mr. Fancypants?

No, to be honest, I am not. This isn’t anything to be proud of. While I am loving it at the moment, it is a sign of indulgence from weakness, and I must keep a close eye on myself lest I become reliant on this type of pampering all of the period.

When you examine this fancy picture closely, you’ll notice that I’m sitting around on my arse, eating things. My bones and organs are suffering from this seated position. My muscles are withering away as my body recognizes that they are no longer needed. My wrists are being strained and the joints are being nibbled away at, attempting to lay the foundation for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. The laptop is deteriorating and depreciating, and the luxury home is encumbering nearly half a million dollars of precious capital.

In reality, the most fulfilling aspect of this exercise is that I am attempting to build something – this article for you – for which the majority of the surrounding luxury is unnecessary.

I’d be pretty much doomed if I got used to all of this, felt like it was my inalienable right to have it, and became disappointed if I couldn’t have it. Because at that stage, I would have established a lifestyle that was so narrow and fragile that it could be easily thrown off by anything as insignificant as an economic downturn. Despite this, people do it all the time. Even the majority of people. You are immediately teetering atop the supreme house of cards when you borrow money to purchase a consumable product. But as you speed up the treadmill you have to run on just to get close enough to use it, you are getting used to the uncommon luxury of your new toy. This is the reason why the sheer absurdity of borrowing money for a car, and the fact that ninety percent of Americans use it, makes me laugh and sob with anger.

Borrowers aren’t the only ones who make mistakes in this situation. For those of us who have a comfortable stash who can fork over a few thousand dollar bills for the odd treat here and there would be wise to watch ourselves and exercise caution. Mr. Money Mustache, on the other hand, is dreaming about his luxuries. What gives?

As a matter of fact, the MMM family’s relatively affluent lifestyle is one of the main reasons this blog does not scare anyone away. “Oh yeah, they have a baby, cars, and a nice house – seems like a reasonable lifestyle, I suppose we can join in as well,” people say. Contradictions abound on a blog that preaches living a bigger life with a smaller footprint.

Fortunately, there is a way to get the ideal and truth combined. By grasping the fact that luxury is a poison, you can dabble in it without being a whining slave to it.

Isn’t it true that most of us have experimented with drugs in some way? You get a little boost from coffee. You become a little more silly and friendly after consuming alcohol. Ibuprofen reduces swelling and fever, making a cold or flu a lot easier to bear. Marijuana is great for sparking new ideas, bringing out the texture and humor in life, and the list continues along. However, the secret to all medications is that they have a combination of beneficial and harmful effects. Only a fool would overdose on all of them in a hasty search of their benefits while ignoring the well-documented drawbacks.

Luxury acts in the same manner. On a recent business trip, I recall taking a big hit of it. I got off the plane in an exotic destination and inhaled the sea breeze while watching palm trees and flowers sway with the wind.  A black Lincoln was waiting for me right at the curb. I climbed into the back seat after I threw my backpack into the backseat, noticing the contrast between my sandals and shorts and the black leather seats of this business-oriented vehicle. As I casually flicked through emails on my phone and watched the skyscrapers roll by, the driver sped me through the city to the luxury hotel.

I said to myself, “I am Mr. Bigshot.” “While people drive me around, I sit in gigantic cars with muscular V-8 engines that waste a lot of gas. I’m sitting on polished strips of sliced-up cows, dyed and stitched together by staff who make a fraction of what I do. When I arrive at the opulent hotel, I will be treated to a chef-prepared foreign meal and a huge private suite, while others bow down and wait to pay me for the priceless solutions I offer from my powerful mind. I’m getting the treatment I’ve earned! Why have I spent all these years taking the bus, riding my bike, and pitching tents?”

The rush I was getting from this medication could possibly be measured by a scientist. All the chemicals generated by the sensation of being strong and pampered, as well as the habit of doing so.

It was enjoyable, but it was also an experience to be savored, loved, and joked about, just like being drunk off a gourd with friends or high on some other drug. Since even one executive pampering session was enough to make me consider the possibility of using luxurious airport transportation on potential trips. I was only trying to sort the hotel list from “high to low” rather than “low to high,” while chuckling at the Best Western’s dingy furnishings or shivering in the sweltering heat of an August day in Houston.

While this amount of pampering will quickly make me flabby and dependent, there are plenty of examples of far more spoiled people further down the scale. Some kings and queens in the past were so reliant on the ornate surroundings that they would imprison or kill any servant who did not deliver their luxuries exactly as requested.  Some movie stars now have special provisions in their contracts stating that they will only be sheltered in the highest tier of limousine and hotel, with threats of complaining and legal action if they do not get what they want.

When you squeeze yourself into a sliver of luxury, your view of the universe, as well as your ability to survive and succeed in it, narrows drastically. It can be enjoyable to use on occasion, just like any other substance. But to actively strive to optimize luxury in all aspects of your life to the utmost extent possible? It’s complete madness. It would be nuts if I said, “Now that I can afford it, I’m going to start taking drugs for as much of my waking hours as possible.” All day, I’ve been alternating shots of espresso and fine scotch, with bong hits every hour on the hour!”

Perhaps more ridiculous is for people who are having financial difficulties to seek out luxury and even buy it on credit – similar to a man with a weakened liver reaching for the bottle of alcohol while the surgeons are attempting to perform a transplant.

So, if you’re not strong enough to completely abstain, indulge in luxury in the same way you would indulge in other forms of naughtiness. Consider it as part of a broader exploration of the human experience: many luxury goods are, after all, the culmination of your fellow humans’ craft, research, and effort. However, instead of the whining dependency that most of your fellow wealthy people create, approach it from a place of power.

Luxury is best appreciated as a powerful and fascinating contrast to, rather than the fabric of, your daily life.

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