img_20160518_120628592-1I know a family visiting Italy for a couple of weeks. They’re getting immersed  in Italy’s rich history of architecture, art, food, and shopping. The family is made up of the parents and three college aged sons, so I not sure how much shopping they pursue.

But here’s the thing about shopping. You can shop as a consumer or as an appreciator.

A consumer sees something interesting and thinks, “I must have that.” Whereas an appreciator thinks, “That’s cool, interesting, clever, or whatever.” The object’s existence becomes food for thought.

Pablo Picasso said, “I’d like to live as a poor man with lots of money.” Maybe he meant that you don’t need lots of stuff to be happy, but it’s good to have money for options. There’s more to the world than cars and televisions, but they’re handy when you need them.

Being an appreciator lets you take in lots of ideas. The cross pollenating by ideas is what makes us a successful species. Barter, trade, and by extension shopping, has always exposed us to other and new ideas about how things could be done or made differently, and ultimately better. That’s why more ideas emerge from cities than the country.

Winding up with less stuff is another benefit of being an appreciator. Not due to lack of money, it’s just how you end up while optimizing for appreciation rather than maximum consumption.