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The Power of Your Own Pleasure
“The soul should always stand open, ready to welcome the ecstatic experience” – Emily Dickinson
How much pleasure did you have today? Yeah, let’s be honest, unless you’re one of those rare people who experience a lot of pleasure, you probably didn’t get your pleasure meter off the ground today. The Webster Dictionary definition of Pleasure is: a pleasurable feeling; enjoyment; joy; satisfaction You know the feeling—the warm, open feeling of joy all over your body—hard to put into words—but you know what I’m talking about–Pleasure-it’s fun to say and almost evokes the feeling just by saying it. Try it — say it out loud — Pleasure. What a great pun to say and even more fun to fully experience!
When I ask my clients “What makes you happy?” they may take time to generate answers to the question. There may be reactions like “I shouldn’t focus on my pleasure, which is selfish” or “It’s been so long since I felt pleasure that I don’t know what would give me pleasure.” Another reaction is that they are able to list the things that give them pleasure, but when I ask them the last time they did these things—they answer sarcastically that it wasn’t for a long time. Women especially have a hard time staying focused and taking care of their own pleasure because they are socialized to channel their energy into supporting other people’s pleasure, not their own. A few years ago, when I was vacationing with my family at a cottage in Upper Michigan, my Aunt said she would like to go see the sunset on Lake Superior, a fifteen minute drive from where we were. I was so excited because rarely did she say anything that would give her pleasure — because she was so focused on what would give pleasure to her husband and children, but not to herself. We were getting ready to leave when a family friend from a neighboring cottage came over and asked my aunt to prepare a fish he had just caught–without blinking, she said yes, and her trip to watch the sunset was gone. air Again, someone else’s pleasure was more important than her own. I was both angry and sad at how quickly she let go of her own pleasure.
Think of the ripple effect of her denial of her own Pleasure. To look at this, let’s use the framework of Inner Linkage, where we have a child that we are constantly communicating with. Imagine the internal communication that my aunt had within her—she told the child that they were going to watch the sunset–and just like any child, that part of her began to get excited, anticipating the fun and pleasure of seeing the sunset. —got more excited as the time to go got closer (you know that’s just what kids do) and now imagine she chooses not to go and prepares the fish for her friend instead. How would that child inside her feel? Devastated, angry, sad, unimportant. There would definitely be an effect on the internal level – a feeling of hopelessness, irritability, her energy level might have gone down, she might have snapped at others later in the evening. There are negative consequences for both her and the others around her – these kinds of denials do not go without profound consequences. If such denial of one’s own pleasure continues, it can lead to feelings of depression, anger, weakening of one’s Spirit and even illness.
Let’s look at the ripple effect of what would have happened if she had followed her Pleasure and gone to watch the Sunset. She would have had the wonderful feeling of Joy and pleasure in her body as she watched the sunset. Her energy would be raised, open and she would feel a deeper connection with herself and those around her. She would feel relaxed—all the tension that had been held in her body would melt away—her breathing would open and deepen. In this relaxed, open, elevated state she can gain creative insight into how to deal with some of the issues she has recently been facing—allowing her to resolve these with ease and grace rather than struggle. She would feel inner confidence from listening to herself—that childish part of her that was excited about going to see the Sunset—this part of her would feel valued and important—so she would feel her own worth and importance . . The childish part of her—which is the part of her most connected to what would give her pleasure–would feel safe to bring more ideas about future pleasurable activities—pleasure would open up and spread in her life– – rather than limiting and diminishing — which would be the consequence of not following the sunset pleasure.
Our mood affects those around us — even if we don’t say a word — people close to us can tell if we’re in a good or bad mood and are generally influenced by how we feel. Because of this, my Aunt’s good feelings of following her pleasure would have had a ripple effect of spreading good feelings to those around her. Her elevated mood would also positively affect the way she interacted with her family—she would be more open and loving with them. So you can see all the benefits of following your own pleasure — your life opens up and expands in positive ways.
The following are 6 guidelines for experiencing the power of your own pleasure:
1. Take Your Own Pleasure Seriously- You must be the champion of your own pleasure—pursue and honor the things that bring you pleasure–not bow to outside pressures that derail you. Listen to that voice inside you when it comes up with a great idea for something that would give you pleasure — the more you listen, the more ideas will come. Open the pleasure doors!
2. Make your own pleasure a priority- One of my favorite ways to do this is to structure your day around your pleasure. Putting pleasure at the top of your list rather than the bottom can have a huge impact on your daily life. Pleasure feeds your Spirit and invigorates your energy system—giving you more energy to do whatever you want to do. When I plan my day I make sure I have something enjoyable planned first thing in the morning—lately it’s cycling—this infuses the start of my day with positive energy of pleasure. Than I make sure I have something fun to do during lunch like a meeting with one of my favorite friends or a walk outside. In the evenings I make sure I have something enjoyable to do—watch the sunset or watch a funny, light sitcom. Planning your day with Pleasure as your first priority will allow you to do the other items on your to-do list with ease and more energy. So tomorrow write at the top of your to-do list “PLEASE.”
3. Take Full Responsibility for Your Own Pleasure- Do you take responsibility for your own pleasure or do you pass that on to other people—your partner, your friends, your children? This is a common thing that people do and often they are unaware of it. A sign that you may be doing this is if you often find yourself let down and disappointed with people. This disappointment comes from an expectation you have of them to act a certain way to make you feel good—“they have to say this, do that, etc—and I’ll feel good.” Imagine making your pleasure independent of what others around you are doing and saying – that’s when things get really exciting and fun! An example of this is around the Holidays – if you have expectations of how your family should act in order for you to have a good time—you will likely be disappointed because you have no control over what mood each family member will be in. in , if they are open to having fun and being loving or closed and stuck in negativity. If you make your pleasure independent of what will happen with others, you will be sure to have fun.
4. Engage All Your Senses to Experience Pleasure- An essential part of feeling pleasure is connecting to the sensations of your body. If you’re stuck in your head worrying, analyzing, thinking about the past or the future, you won’t be present in your body to feel pleasure — you’ll actually probably feel tension and anxiety. To feel pleasure you must open to the experience of the moment—how the air feels on your skin, what you smell, what you see around you. You may have an opportunity for pleasure that you miss by getting lost in the thoughts of your mind. Once you are connected to your body’s sensations, you will have a better idea of what needs to happen to experience pleasure. For example you may notice in your everyday surroundings that there is a lack of visual beauty—so you can do things to change this to experience the pleasure of visual beauty. If you are now at home, look around you—does what you see give you pleasure—are the colors and things out of shape and beautiful? If not research what colors and images you would like to have in your environment. What sounds do you hear during the day? Do you hear laughter, music you love, singing, birds? Pay attention to what gives you auditory pleasure and make sure your day is filled with these sounds. What physical sensations give you pleasure? I love the feel of my dog’s soft fur on my fingertips — I close my eyes and notice how nice the feeling is to me. Does the physical sensation of different movement feel good to you — cycling, dancing, walking, jumping? What touch feels good to you? Do you like someone to hold your hand, rub your back or your feet, stroke your hair? Tune in to what physical sensations you really love and make sure you take action to bring these sensations more into your life.
5. Take Ordinary Tasks and Infuse Them with Pleasure- Think about the tasks you have to do in your life and see what you can do to bring more pleasure to these experiences. What could you do to make cleaning your house enjoyable?—play your favorite music, dance breaks, joking with whoever is cleaning with you or joking with yourself! I do this when I write articles- I play my favorite music loud, I drink my favorite iced tea from a colorful glass, I have loving and encouraging notes to me posted all over my computer screen, I have beautiful pictures on cards , which I can see in front of me, I burn my favorite incense and every 10 minutes I take a dance break! Therefore, writing is very pleasurable and fun for me. Years ago when I first started writing I didn’t do these things and writing was difficult and a struggle for me. It was after I made pleasure a priority in the writing process that writing became very fun, easy and something I look forward to. Look at what activities you have to do and see what creative ways you can bring more pleasure.
6. Push Your Pleasure Limits- You may have received negative messages from the culture and your family about pleasure, so at first it may feel awkward and uncomfortable to focus so openly on your own pleasure. Treat these feelings as normal feelings of breaking free from old limiting patterns that no longer serve you in your life. Acknowledge the uncomfortable feelings but don’t let them stop you from moving forward following your pleasure. The idea is to increase your ability to feel pleasure and feel it more often in your life. Take risks and experiment with what would give you pleasure—Ask yourself— “What would give me pleasure today or at this moment?” —listen to what comes to mind and try it. Challenge yourself to feel more pleasure during the day—don’t feel a little pleasure and say to yourself- “Enough I’ve had my pleasure during the day”—-no, no, don’t do that– -go the other way and say to yourself “That felt so great—I want to feel more of that today!” I truly feel that there is always room to stretch and grow in the good feelings we can experience—so don’t cut yourself off from the wonderful possibilities! Your great feeling will be an inspiration to others and allow them to see how they too can transcend those wonderful feelings. Commit to being a Pleasure Pioneer by exploring new territories of pleasure, paving the way for others to joyfully follow!
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