Olivia Newport iPhoneMy daughter was perfectly happy with her Blackberry until I came home with an iPhone.

As soon as she held it, she ooed. When she saw the feast of apps that come pre-installed, she aahed. The bright colors. The crispness. The sleekness.

Now, this is me dragging into the twenty-first century. The phone I had was ancient enough that a data package was optional and I frugally opted not to carry one all these years. But it had “battery fatigue,” and it didn’t have the oomph to communicate with the blue tooth function of my new hearing aids. It kept quitting by mid-morning, and that was that.

So a new phone was in order, and, since I hadn’t cashed in any upgrades in eons, the iPhone 4 was free.

Why not? (Yes, I know this means I will have to pay for the data package. But lucky for you, that means we can connect any time.)

My daughter reminded me that she has a birthday coming up. (Hey, I remember. I was there.) And she is passing an educational milestone this spring, as well as a noteworthy employment achievement. So she figures I can give her the $99 iPhone as a combined gift that covers all occasions.

“I know you don’t have a lot of money,” she said. “This will actually save you money.”

Daughters. What are you gonna do?

She doesn’t need a new phone. The Blackberry is not all that old and works fine.

What makes us wish for more than we need? We all do it. How swiftly we go from being happy with what we have to envying what someone else has.

Greed is seductive, isn’t it? Most of the time we don’t even feel ourselves sliding over the line. The next thing we know, we’ve justified a new purchase, a new toy, a new habit. And it’s not greed or envy anymore; it’s just what we need.

I’m not judging specific choices—mine or anyone else’s. (I like new stuff as much as the next person.) I’m just raising the question. Are we content—grateful, even—for what we have? Do we carefully consider whether a choice feeds the greed impulse?

Maybe it’s not a bad thing if every now and then we take stock of what we say we value and whether we live out those values in our choices.

• What decision have you made recently that genuinely made your life better?