In essence, luxury in the minds of the majority is often associated with freedom. The life of luxury may come with perks we all wish to taste, but it also comes with a dark side very few are fully aware of. The vast majority of the population still chooses to turn a blind eye to the truth behind opulence – and this attitude may cost many an individual the very freedom they associate with luxury.
Being focused on self-preservation is an integral part of our mental anatomy. As a species, we have always struggled between the urge to protect our well being, be it our survival or our possessions, and the altruistic desire to help others. It seems that the former tends to be much more prominent in individuals who enjoy a luxurious life, according to various research studies conducted on the given topic.
Whether selfish individuals naturally gravitate towards luxury brands or even the naïve individuals among us can fall prey to the effects of luxury goods remains to be discovered. What has been confirmed is that people who opt for luxury brands exhibit behaviors that are obviously selfish, even at the expense of those around them.
The main perk the wealthy can use to their advantage to prevent empowering high levels of narcissism and selfishness is to teach humility. If we are striving to build a society where wealth is not equated with value, we can begin to teach our kids to grow up into confident, hard-working individuals who will not be defined by their wallets. It boils down to how our society rewards and treats luxury inside any home, and how we teach our young ones to perceive and define wealth.
Ironically, the greater focus on self-interest caused by a luxurious life tends to lead to more self-destructive behavior. It’s no coincidence that addiction rates are the highest among the richest celebrities and wealthiest people of our time.
Despite understanding how addictive substances work, people underestimate the impact of ecstasy and similar high-priced drugs on their long-term health and well being, often because they feel invincible thanks to their extraordinary wealth. Nudged by luxury, many young people coming from wealthy families risk their lives by consuming these substances with little to no self-control. Ultimately, the need to satisfy their every desire leads to a slew of self-destructive decisions that defeat the purpose of wealth.
The beauty of choice
The very same wealth that allows this form of recklessness to thrive through various forms of addiction, also makes it possible for these families to turn to all sorts of experts for help and guidance. As soon as that voice of reason awakens, people struggling with addiction begin to understand the true benefit of wealth: you can and should choose the finest institutions and the most renowned experts to come to your aid. When you finally find yourself thinking: “I need to find a reliable rehab center near me”, you have made the first step to embrace recovery. With ample resources at your disposal, you can find a facility that matches your needs, and use your time to reflect and recover.
Hopefully, families dealing with addiction will not only use their wealth to battle this vicious illness, but also to raise awareness as well as funds to fight for a healthier world.
The Dorian Gray effect
From celebrities to prominent figures of every society, many of them have undergone cosmetic procedures to retain their youthful appearance. Not to mention the luxury designer items they wear to every possible event, flaunting their material superiority. The world of luxury fashion as well as cosmetic procedures exasperates these social discrepancies by making their products and services available to only a handful of individuals. Luxury may have always been associated with exclusivity, but this modern-day status segregation has only lead to unrealistic expectations and a higher rate of mental disorders such as depression.
The rich and famous who dominate the media deliver a distorted image of what is embraced as beautiful and attractive. If you have money, it seems, you can afford to be beautiful, unencumbered by the stress of everyday life. The pretense of luxury has created fake beauty standards and imposed impossible expectations that few can live up to.
The hope of knowledge
Just like so much depends on the image of addiction and turning it from taboo to transparency in the hopes of finding the best healing methods, deeply rooted mental and emotional turmoil needs its day in court. Using your social standing paired with financial stability to start an important conversation can make a difference. Even if it starts with one person raising their voice and asking for help. Thankfully, more celebrities are using their names and wealth to do just that – and the rest of the wealthy world can and should follow in their footsteps.
The freedom of luxury
The other side of the luxury saga is the one that has helped it persevere despite our better judgment. The definition of luxury has changed and evolved to reflect the values of each stage of human existence. In ancient Greece, fish was considered a luxury – but the derived insult “fish lover” reflected their belief that anyone who liked this expensive food group was also morally corrupt. It seems that the notion of luxury has always been associated with greater self-interest.
Nowadays, the notion of luxury varies from one society to another to reflect its inherent values. What is evident is that being wealthy, thus being able to afford luxurious items, is a prerequisite for many a noble act. A glance at Stella McCartney’s designer efforts to make a difference for all fashion lovers and provide a more sustainable take to replace the fast fashion model is a great example. Her reputation and influence allow her to be a voice of reason in the sea of opulence.
The poverty of opulence
Out of sight, out of mind rings too true for the modern human. We ignore the dismal truth of child labor, environmental destruction, and various forms of abuse that are a rule rather than an exception in the business of fast fashion, agriculture, and many other industries. We ignore it by choosing not to take action.
Luxury has created such a powerful image that we have sacrificed our innermost humanity for the sake of acquiring the said image by mere brand association – we buy branded luxury goods, even counterfeit ones, just to retain the illusion of grandeur. Our desire to own and possess has turned us into a morally impoverished species – and no riches can replace the kindness we sold for a fancy pair of jeans, likely made by one of the 170 million children engaged in labor.
The call to conscience
Although a long-overdue one, the call to our own conscience has come from the unlikeliest of places in recent years. A glance at Blancpain, a high-end watch company, and you can see how luxury can be used with the aim to improve not just their customers’ lives, but our planet’s survival as well, and our need for innovation. They have taken part in cleaning our oceans and have invested in various scientific expeditions. They are merely an example of what luxury has the power to do once true values steal the spotlight.
Despite what the labels on our luxury goods may say, the price we pay is far higher than any monetary value we attach to them. Ultimately, the greatest unrecognized luxuries of our time are precisely the ones we refuse to empower by letting go of false opulence: living a life of moderation and rebuilding our system of values may be a good place to start.