There are givers, and then there are takers. Generally, at some point in time we have all received – either from our friends or family, and at times from absolute strangers. 

Have you noticed that, when we get a favor from a stranger, we feel immensely grateful, for there was no expectation of such favor. However, when we receive from our family and friends, there could be a greater chance that we ignore our blessings and tend to take them for granted. 

As a kid, I lost my father at a young age and we struggled to make ends meet. However, we were supported in times of need by close relatives and family friends, who went out of their way to help us, despite their own personal situation. My family and I have never forgotten the value of this timely help we received years ago, that sailed us through. It’s easy to forget with passing time, but to remember it keeps the basis of relationships strong, which in turn have ensured that we help each other not only monetarily (which is a shallow measure of depth), but also emotionally in times of duress. And that’s the power of gratitude – it nurtures sympathy, empathy and support for each other in happiness and sorrows.

Why is gratitude so important? There remain very few unconditional relations in today’s world. When we remain grateful for the smallest of things our close and far ones do for us, it pushes us to do good back. And it sets in motion a vicious circle of doing good and staying good. When you take someone or something for granted, and expect obligations in a ‘matter-of-factly’ way, you set a ticking timer for the slow demise of that relation. 

In today’s fast paced world, we very often tend to forget the difference between right and obligation. E.g. To get paid our salaries, is a right. However, to expect social support during an adversity is an obligation not a right – an obligation to give back in money, kind or simply efforts at the opportune time. To have food, clothing, shelter, health and education is a right, but to be funded for personal vagaries or excesses is an obligation (did you know of the beggar in Mumbai who owns three homes in the city, but even today makes a livelihood of begging?). 

Can we think of moments, where we unintentionally took a help for granted, missed thanking the people around us or got too busy to return good deeds? Can we utter a silent prayer to thank our stars and our universe for giving us everything it has, and look for ways to give back? For in the barter of give and take, it’s only gratitude that can balance the scale!!