Across the U.S., American families and friends will gather on the fourth Thursday of November to unwittingly flood their brains with dopamine and serotonin in a celebration of gratitude rooted in English traditions that date back to the Protestant Reformation.  However, the neuromodulating effects of being grateful can profoundly change your life for the better when practiced on the daily, rather than once a year over a wishbone and your Auntie May’s favorite stuffing. While tradition is important in the human experience and a day set aside to give thanks and reflect on all our blessings is a noble occasion, practicing gratitude daily will lead to a happier, healthier you and even reshape your brain according to scientists, with the key being that you must really feel it for it to wield this powerful influence over your physiology and psychology. Gratitude can act as a natural antidepressant by increasing the neurotransmitters, dopamine and serotonin, and sending them hurtling down existing neuropathways as well as forming new neural circuitry. This effect is particularly strong when we ask ourselves what we are grateful for and are mindful of it.   Choosing to practice gratitude has been shown in study after study to create new neurocircuitry through which dopamine can influence the reward center of the brain.

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