Happiness and Gratitude

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Today, I'd like to introduce Celeste Cooper-Peel, the RFC's Wellness Supervisor.  CelesteCeleste has been in the health and wellness field for twenty years. After receiving her Masters in Health Education from East Carolina University, she ventured into the mind/body world receiving training in Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction and Yoga. Shortly after, she received the 2003 Wellness in the Workplace Award for a large health system in the state of Virginia. In 2004, Celeste joined SAS and continues to be passionate in her position as Wellness Supervisor. She loves working with her team members, teaching yoga and meditation, presenting seminars and nurturing healthy lifestyle changes to the SAS community. Celeste is a wife of a fun-loving husband, mother of a high school daughter, yogini and professional front porch meditator. She is a nationally Master Certified Health Education Specialist (MCHES), an Experienced Registered Yoga Teacher (E-RYT) with the National Yoga Alliance, Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) Instructor and Certified Wellness and Health Coach (CWHC).

And now, a word on Happiness & Gratitude from Celeste:

Trees for GratitudeScience has consistently found that gratitude can increase levels of happiness and well-being, but we don’t need research to prove that cultivating gratitude is beneficial. Being grateful just feels good. The beauty with gratitude is that there are so many ways to express it. The first expression for me is that I’m grateful for my family, my job, my health and so on.

Once we experience appreciation for those close to us, we can begin to expand our gratitude to those items we may take for granted. This can include modern conveniences that make our lives easier or maybe it’s “self-care” time. When I take a yoga class, I always end my practice thinking of someone or something I’m grateful for. This is precious time that’s all mine. I also take this attitude into the classes I teach, always ending class asking students to do the same. It only takes a minute, but this form of appreciation has benefits that take root and grow into our days.

The next branch on the giving tree is to find thanks in items that aren’t so pleasant, such as hitting every red light as you drive somewhere. It’s difficult to nurture this side. Believe me, I know. It seems as if you get stopped when you’re in a hurry. I always wonder what the world is trying to tell me when this happens. Maybe it’s time to learn patience. Now, I take this time to drink in some deep breaths. Perfect time to do it and I won’t get to my destination any quicker by being angry. There’s always a silver lining. Try to discover it the next time you’re sitting at a light.

Now, let’s grow the practice to the top of the tree. I’ll give you an example. It seems as if yoga and gratitude go hand in hand, right? Well, I love yoga, but recently found myself in a weekend yoga class where the instructor moved into my most nemesis of poses. I took a deep breath and wondered what I could learn from this. Not just physically getting into the pose, but looking deeper. I guess my theory is I can learn something from each experience. I was thankful that I’m healthy enough to be in class and attempt the pose, although not so graceful. I discovered that this attitude helped deepen my practice and I left with a smile on my face.Natl Yoga Month Gratitude

Cultivating gratitude for the little things, the larger items and the most difficult has the potential to change your perspective in a very positive way. With September recognized as National Yoga Month, the SAS yoga staff wanted to express their gratitude. We all have contributed to a collection of 108 things we are grateful for. I smiled as each card of gratitude was attached to the suspended strings, allowing them to reflect in the mirrors of the studio. It is our hope that participants will catch a glimpse as they move into their pose and feel grateful for those they have in their life. It’s all about spreading the message and nurturing happiness.

Take a couple of minutes a day to let your branches grow towards the glow of gratitude. It can be something as simple as keeping a gratitude journal, thinking of one thing or more you are grateful for each day. This is a great way to close the day.

It’s also fun to get your family involved. Maybe during Thanksgiving you and yours can celebrate gratitude. My family started the tradition of each family member writing down something they appreciate and each person reads their item and then places them in a bowl on the table. As we eat, we are mindful that our gratitude lies before us. It’s a great way to start a meal and tell your loved ones what you appreciate.

Think of a way you can cultivate gratitude every day and share your ideas with others!

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About Author

Amanda Pack

Recreation and Fitness Program Coordinator

Amanda received her Bachelor of Arts in Exercise and Sport Science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Passionate about health and fitness, Amanda worked in the fitness and wellness industry for 6 years prior to joining the Recreation and Fitness Center team in 2011. At the RFC, she enjoys sharing her passion with the SAS Community through personal training, group exercise instruction, teaching yoga, and coaching recreational endurance athletes. A wife, working mother, triathlete, and yogini herself, wellness is an important theme in both her personal and professional life. Amanda is registered through Yoga Alliance as a 200 hour Yoga Teacher (RYT200), certified in personal training and group exercise instruction through the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America (AFAA), and is an IRONMAN Certified Coach.

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