On some level our culture no longer values the Thank you card or expressions of appreciation as it once did because we are an entitled people. However, in the realm of being a human being and having a positive outlook on life and in being an influence on others, I think that there is a thing or two to be said about being grateful.
A life without gratitude is one that we simply must bear and it is hard to find enjoyment in life if a person is just "grinning and bearing it." My lessons in learning how to be grateful started a little later in life (I think it should be taught from the time a child is very young i.e. "please and thank you" which ought to be taught as more than words to say, it is an attitude to be cultivated. ). I was 19 years old. It was hard. This lesson was going to help save my life. At 18 I was hell bent and when I actually faced my 19th birthday, I was surprised that I was still walking around on this earth and I was anything but grateful. Here I write many years later and grateful that I am still teachable and still learning how to be grateful.
Gratitude is indeed an attitude and one that does need cultivation. An open mind and a humble heart, I believe are essential to the garden of appreciation. And like any other garden, it needs to be tended to: water, sunshine, and weed. God is the Gardener and He delights in including helpers like me and you to help tend the gardens of our hearts. Once we agree that this Garden is worth our time and attention, we open ourselves up to a place of strength especially when life is changing. The changes are right, appropriate and good and can be painful at the same time. Gratitude can and will help carry us through the changes.
It is not enough for me to just say, "I am grateful for x,y and z" my gratitude needs to be directed toward someone else. For me, as a child of the Living God, I need to be grateful to God to give him thanks for every good gift and to be thankful in all circumstances. To be thankful in all circumstances: the way I understand this line of thinking has to do of what I believe about God, his role not just in my life but in all of life. If I believe that God is indeed in control of this world that He has created and I believe that in His character He is perfectly just, perfectly merciful and perfectly loving, then with my heart I can be thankful in any circumstance.
Time to drink in what I have just written.