Gratitude, like all the other heart qualities, is the wisdom of the universe. It is the law of the universe and provides the foundation of all activities within it. It is the wisdom for maintaining balance and harmony.
Gratitude is exemplified in the interaction between Yin and Yang. When they are able to respect each other’s need to grow, and support what’s needed for each other’s growth, they create optimal balance and harmony. The giver and receiver can be likened to Yin and Yang. When the receiver returns to the giver with true gratitude, this balance is maintained. Not only that, true gratitude will prompt the receiver to turn the gift into something that will benefit not only themselves but also the giver, turning around the role of giver and receiver. Gratitude fuels and promotes the interaction between two parties and facilitates the ongoing movement and development of everything in the universe.
We humans, being part of the universe, inherit this wisdom and the natural ability to manifest gratitude. We are born to be good at both giving and receiving. Then why is it still necessary to work on gratitude?
Many unhealthy patterns create obstacles for the heart to feel true gratitude. They direct us to our heads. We say ‘thank you’ all the time because we know courtesy is necessary, but the words don’t always come from the heart. What would be the commonest and biggest obstacle? It is probably the pattern of ‘taking things for granted’ or ‘entitlement’. Before you conclude that this is not one of your patterns, perhaps explore further.
Do you feel upset or disappointed when your expectations are not met?
Do you assume someone is obligated to do things for you?
Do you feel that meeting your needs should be other people’s priority?
Do you feel you have a ‘noble’ cause or reason, so you are right to demand others to commit?
Do you often feel unfairly treated?
Do you rarely reflect on what someone has done for you but feel right to ask the person to give?
Is it much easier to see what you do for others than what others do for you?
Do you often see yourself as ‘disadvantaged’ or ‘disenfranchised’ and deserve more?
Do you assume because someone has more, that what they have should be shared with you?
Do you sometimes feel the world owes you?
Why is it so common to fall into those traps? Because it is very easy to ‘get used to’ being on the receiving end. Sometimes it only takes a few times of receiving to forget how special the gift is and start to see it as ‘normal’ to receive. Gradually, expectations can develop, and a sense of entitlement can emerge. When we are so used to being on the receiving end, we get greedy and want more. When we are not getting what we want, we become upset.
Cultivate gratitude with your heart. Work on the patterns that might be causing obstacles, for example, self-centeredness and greediness. Use other Xin (heart) qualities to help improve the quality of your gratitude. With trust, your gratitude will convey goodwill and purity; with openness, sincerity will come through. Love will add life and beauty to your gratitude. Gongjing will give it depth and strength.
True gratitude is your heart knowing, without any doubt, that no one owes you anything.