Ask: Why express gratitude for things in an illusion?
…The self-help industry stresses a gratitude practice. If nothing exists and everything is an illusion, why express gratitude for the things in the illusion? Does it play a role in awakening from the dream? – CL
Self-help practices are centered on the personal self but do play a limited role in growing your awareness of Truth. Practicing gratitude is important not for the specifics of the gratitude practiced but for the mind training involved. It is especially helpful for those who have a tendency to dwell on lack. The real lesson is not that you need to be grateful for what shows up for the personal self but that your thoughts are your choice and are not happening to you against your will.
You will notice that much of A Course in Miracles focuses on replacing dark thoughts with lighter thoughts about a world that it teaches is not real. This teaches you that you have control over your thoughts and therefore over your experience of peace or conflict. Eventually you will realize that since you can change your experience of the world by changing your mind about it then it must not have any meaning in itself. You will recognize that the universe of form is a neutral projection onto which you have projected meaning. This is when you will begin to understand that there is really nothing there. And you will realize that you do not have to think about it at all. This awareness is not something that you can force but that you will develop naturally as you take more responsibility for your thoughts.
So exercises like practicing gratitude have value for spiritual awakening in the short term but they will fall away naturally when you no longer need them.