It sounds like a dirty word, and it certainly can be. But we all have our own bit of narcissism. Some people are car-narcissists; they are very particular about what they are seen driving. They see cars as status symbols and are proud of driving luxury automobiles. I'm not a car narcissist. I see big, expensive cars as a monumental waste of money, especially if they are also gas-hogs. I get the need for a large vehicle if you have a big family or you need a truck for work (or to haul a horse-trailer!) but for the most part I tend to be unimpressed buy what people drive. I'm more about automotive practicality. My first priority is long-term reliability, my second is utility. If it's cute too, well, that's a bonus. But that's just me because I'm not a car-narcissist.
Some people (most, actually) are fashion-narcissists to one degree or another. Again, not for me. I work in my jammies and most of my wardrobe falls well within the 'comfortable' spectrum. I think it would be safe to say that there aren't many material things that I'm terribly into or exited about. I like decent stuff that works when it's supposed to. I'll admit I'm not a fan of broken stuff that is barely hanging on, but that's reasonable for anyone I suppose. My grandparents used to say "buy the best quality you can reasonably afford and take care of it". It's a good policy.
Narcissism, ironically, can be ugly. We all know the the person who spends all their time and resources on clothing, hair, nails and makeup, and all their time in the mirror. Their favorite topic is themselves, how hot they are, etc. Unfortunately, this much focus on what's outside is usually compensation for an inside that's a hollow, dusty and cobwebby husk of humanity. I'm not saying that I don't know people who are beautiful both inside and out, just that their outer beauty is more a consequence of their inner beauty coming through. I even know a few beauty-focused people who also happen to be exceptional human beings. Their beauty isn't all they're about and they have some depth. They can be appearance-narcissists while still having balance in their lives. And that's really the trick to making your narcissism work for you, isn't it? Balance.
Narcissism can be fun in moderation, and it need not be harmful. If you're a car-narcissist and you can afford a fun auto, AWESOME:-) That's what we work for, isn't it? It's human nature to express ourselves through things (hell, it's the nature of several animal species as well), so why not? My personal narcissism revolves around dog and horse stuff. Random, I know. But I have no problem at all walking my very well dressed dog down the street while I'm wearing an old pair of sweat pants. I actually worked at a tack shop a few years ago so I could be as obsessive as I wanted to be about 'dressing' my daughter's horse. I would walk in the door every morning and inhale the new saddle smell deep into my lungs. Incoming shipments of new tack were like hits of crack for me. No, that doesn't speak to moderation, but the specificity of my unique narcissism means it's self-limiting. Thank God:-) Other people might look at my desire for uber-nice dog/horse stuff as a little nutty considering my wardrobe and my 20 year old car. I get it, but it's all about the priorities. Dog/horse stuff may not mean anything to the folks standing around shaking their heads. They aren't dog/horse narcissists. We're all different, and that's okay. Kumbaya.
I guess the take-away message of this meandering rumination is this: Even our flaws can have a purpose if we acknowledge them and indulge them a bit. It's all about moderation:-)