I would thank you from the bottom of my heart, but for you my heart has no bottom.
No duty is more urgent than that of returning thanks.
I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.
– G.K. Chesterton
An attitude of gratitude is carefully cultivated and encouraged by our society. But there is a danger of receiving gratitude that only fuels our selfishness. Many never progress beyond the stage of seeking to hear praise and gratitude because it simply feeds the ego and bolsters one's pride. I, sadly, often fall into this trap of puerile thinking. Yet, all of us need to learn the importance of gratitude, both expressing it and receiving it. We begin with these simple baby steps, learning it from our parents, teachers, and mentors. And if it stopped there, it would be a sad life exercise since it would be a conditional gratitude; we would only express it because we hope that we, in turn, would receive it as well.
...for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.
Hebrews 5:12-13 (ESV)
I am thankful that God has shown us a more excellent way. He shows us how to move beyond the receiving of milk and to the solid food of the teachings of Jesus Christ. He gives us His Word to give us greater discernment. The more we read His Word, the deeper He is able to take us out of a childish and immature notion of gratitude and place us on the solid footing of a mature understanding of what giving and receiving gratitude should be. All gratitude originates with God. It is our attitude that needs to mature. It is a Christ-centered attitude, recognizing that we are only able to give and receive gratitude because of what He has done for us. True gratitude is advanced humanity.
It is the constant practice that is painful and the aspect that I fear the most, since it is unknown. To live a life of gratitude is to live a live honed by pain and trials. And when we encounter these inevitable trials, if we fail to dig deeper into God's presence but simply retreat into our own sorrows, we will never mature. We will relive the same hurt and pain, never breaking the cycle, remaining mired in our own self-pity. Gratitude will remain a temporary emotional fix from our drudgery and problems, not the glorious change that God intended it to be.
I struggle with this all the time. I wish it were easier but if this is how God intends to bless me, I must reorient my priorities and mindset with His.
Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.