The simple habit of saying “thank you,” and the notion of gratitude that underlies it, can be a key to understanding many of the basic assumptions, preferences, and needs of Western culture. Yet most people think surprisingly little about gratitude, unless they are in the middle of experiencing it intensely, or until they feel seriously hurt by other people's failure to be grateful when they should be.
We often express dismay at an apparent drop in the “standards” of gratitude in...
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