Gratitude is powerful and useful
Feeling Gratitude and being grateful is powerful and enabling. Feeling obligated, a sense of indebtedness, needing to be repaid, isn't. Some use the terms interchangeably. And there's much difference between the two. Feeling grateful for everything in useful and good. Feeling a sense of obligation, indebtedness, etc. isn't.
When one has received a good deed from another, it's good to feel grateful. And as the doer, do the favour without expecting anything in return, not even gratitude. Do because one wants to and is choosing to help. And not because the recipient should feel grateful and definitely not obliged or in debt!
Pay it forward
As a receiver of the favour, feeling and expressing gratitude, is extremely useful. For example, being grateful to those who took care of us when we were unable to, being infants or infirm, is useful. And taking care of our children or parents ought to be out of gratitude, not out of obligations or considering it a "duty. "Feeling obliged is "I have to do it since it's my duty or responsibility." Gratitude is, "I want and love to do it."
No being is alone and every being is part of an intricate network of interdependence. The tree gives its fruit because it wants its lineage to continue. When seeds fall right under the tree itself, the chances of the seedling growing aren't great. So, it makes the fruit sweet so that other beings might eat it, and then carry the seed elsewhere. As a receiver of the sweet, expressing gratitude constantly to the tree and to the Universe for the bounty it showers us with is useful. As the beneficiary of the act of carrying its seed to a place that's conducive for the seed to grow, the tree is grateful - evident by the fact that it continues to give fruit.
Be and feel grateful for everything!
Like the tree giving fruit, we do things for our own benefit. And so, the teacher must be grateful to the student, as the student is grateful to the teacher. The buyer is grateful to the seller as the seller is grateful to the buyer. None is superior in any exchange. If there is a person to do another a favour, then there must one to accept the favour. And so, both must be grateful to one another, and not feel obliged or superior!
Feeling gratitude, often and much, helps the person who feels grateful the most. It helps replenish energy levels. It increases the levels of oxytocin in the body, which is also called the "cuddle hormone." It is called so since it makes one feel good as being hugged by a loved one. This creates a favourable biochemical environment in the body, leading to better health. Which might begin an upward spiral of happiness and health. Feeling "indebtedness" creates "stress" and induces "cortisol and such - and alter the biochemical environment in the body, which is not useful, beyond a point.
When and why should I choose to feel and express gratitude? When I find that there are things that are worthy of being grateful for? Or be grateful as the norm? The moment I make it dependent on other things, it becomes conditional and almost transactional. When I choose to be grateful as the norm, it is dependent only on me and my behaviour. Gratitude is the greatest act of self-motivation that one can practice. And yes, writing a journal with all the gratitude, and then thanking others helps