11/25/2014 06:01 pm ET Updated Jan 24, 2015

Thanksgiving -- Not Just a Holiday

Athletes know how important giving thanks is, especially after a game without injury. The same is true in life, especially when you leave that family gathering and are grateful for not punching Uncle Marvin in the face for his condescending comments about women in the workplace.

Giving thanks for even the smallest things in life puts us in a positive frame of mind and by default will cause us to feel happy. Giving thanks for your baby sleeping through the night and letting you get a full eight hours of sleep for the first time in a year and a half is all you need to start the positive thought process.

A state of happiness can help boost your immune system, causing better health. Happiness can also lead to deeper relationships and increased productivity and performance. Most successful people don't let one day pass without giving thanks, and neither should you. Whether it is that one teacher who had something good to say about your child or the amazing bonus you earned at work, there are things to be grateful for in your life, and it's time to start acknowledging them.

Life, as is sports, is 90 percent mental and 10 percent physical. That being said, gratitude has many psychological benefits. We can look at studies to back this up, or you can try a little experiment on your own. After everyone has been seated at your Thanksgiving table, go around to each person and have them tell you what they are grateful for. As each person does this, all will experience a feeling of increased happiness. Smiles will begin to appear for each person, it's contagious. Along with this feeling will come an increase of pride, power and ultimately hope for good things to come. These are the ingredients for success in life.

Gratitude is strongly correlated with optimism. Optimism in turn makes us happier and by default can help improve our health. Gratitude can make us nicer, more trusting, and more social, and people are attracted to those traits. As a result, it can help us make more friends and deepen our existing relationships, especially marriages. It can increase our networking abilities on the job -- people want to work with people they like. That could increase our job opportunities and increase financial opportunities, which can aid in boosting our self-esteem. This increases our mental and physical vigor. These all lead to successful interactions, which can lead to less stress and worry. Falling off to sleep while reviewing what we are grateful for can reduce the time required to fall asleep and increase our quality of sleep. As a result, waking up in the morning will be brighter and more joyful thus starting the day off on a positive note.

Bottom line, changing your thoughts will change your life, and it all can start with a moment of "thanks-giving."

Dr. Donna's weekly blog examines life and equates it with different venues of sports. She talks to her daughters, and all young women, about their role as young wives and mothers and answers their questions and frustrations while equating it to a sport to make her point. Whether it be about dating, successful marriages, parenting, working mom issues, sibling and in-law frustrations, or insecurities about their role as women of their generation, her advice takes on the role as General Manager of the greatest game of all... LIFE.

You can read her recent blogs at