I've been thinking a lot lately about what it really means to cultivate contentment. Today, I heard song lyrics that said something to the effect of "happiness isn't getting what you want, it's wanting what you've got".
So often we get trapped in the idea of "I'll be happy when I have/am/do xyz". We make this thing or that thing a condition of contentment, of happiness.
Why is advertising so effective? Because they tell us that this product or that thing will make our lives complete, full, perfect, that what's being advertised is the thing we've been looking for all along. But, out of the very nature of human beings, after we've bought it and taken it home, it begins to lose the "shiny newness", the thrill of that purchase subsides, and we're searching for the next thing to fulfill us.
What we have to realize is that contentment will NEVER come from stuff. Stress, debt, consumption of our free time, clutter in our homes, even depression and extra weight come from stuff. Contentment can only be found when we're satisfied with what we already have and shift our focus from acquiring more to living more.