(NewsNation) — Giving thanks can be an easy thing to do, and it can bring a world of benefits. Gratitude has the ability to change the molecular structure of the human brain, and doctors say it can help reduce anxiety and depression.
When expressing gratitude, the brain releases dopamine and serotonin — the same hormones released when running or exercising. It has the ability to enhance a person’s mood immediately and to sharpen critical thinking skills.
Research at the Mayo Clinic has shown that cultivating gratitude can build immunity and decrease fears.
But gratitude doesn’t just happen, humans have to train their brains to think differently.
“The cool thing about something like appreciation or gratitude is although we experience it accidentally from time to time, we can actually treat that as a skill and train ourselves and train our mind to experience more of that,” Cortland Dahl, a scientist at the Center for Healthy Minds, University of Wisconsin-Madison.
According to scientists, people are hardwired to notice the negative. Gratitude is like a muscle; humans need to work on it daily to make an impact.
Therapists and psychologists recommend getting a gratitude journal and making a habit of writing what they are thankful for before going to bed and first thing in the morning when waking up.