I'm currently reading "A Year of Living Bibically" by A.J. Jacobs. It is very interesting, especially since I just finished "The Poisonwood Bible" by Barbara Kingsolver. Among the remarkable contrasts between the two books is one point that illustrates Jacobs very well: a character in "The Poisonwood Bible" says that growing up is when you realize that you can't just sit and wait for someone else to take care of something (cleaning, cooking, food-gathering, mending, etc.), you need to do it or else it probably won't get done. Jacobs, at least when it comes to raising his young son, seems to have missed this lesson. "A Year of Living Bibically" so great because he interviewed and collaborated with so many brilliant people!
"The Poisonwood Bible" is historical fiction (and it's fantastic!) about the history of the Congo in the 60's-80's, mostly about the extreme poverty. People were happy to get a hubcab in which to cook what little food they could get. And then to read Jacobs pining over a Jaguar in NYC...coveting was one of his greatest struggles. We all want things, of course, and that's a habit almost impossible to lessen, let alone break. Wanting isn't necessarily bad, but wanting to the point of ignoring what you already have and those who have less than you is...capitalism.
There are a lot of things that I want, of course - the primary one being to have no debts. But appreciating what I have (health, food, clean water, heating, electricity, indoor plumbing, shelter, medicine, soap, clothes, the internet, cell phones, public transportation, friends, family, an awesome girlfriend, a nice assortment of rights and privileges, etc.) and even what I don't have (a car, slaves, a house, a pimp) is very humbling. And it helps me connect to others in a way that no things can and, even if they aren't, I can be grateful for what they have and don't have as well. It's like intercessory prayer, only intercessory thanks!