Jun 2, 2021

Lebanon Hills Regional Park at Jensen Lake: Using the PERMA Model To Find Pleasure In Nature


I've been trying to include and live the PERMA model in my daily life. The PERMA model was brought to my attention by author and podcaster, Peter McGraw, which was originally based on the work of Martin Seligman that suggests and highlights the five paths to a good life.  PERMA is an acronym with each letter defining a meaning that can be used as life's navigating guide to wellbeing and positive emotions.
Following this model may bring a level of happiness, satisfaction and self-awareness that, hopefully, will produce a more fulfilling and remarkable lifestyle.  This is my interpretation of the PERMA model, but you can read in more detail here.
  • P = Positive Emotion or Pleasure Path - Do things that are meaningful to you and creates a pleasurable path towards individual purpose and joy. By discovering compassion, love and gratitude in your life it will produce positive emotions.
  • E = Engagement - Engage in a creative process that includes solving problems and concentrates on something that is challenging. It should encourage growth and get you moving towards your personal goals. Spend time in the activities that bring out character strengths.
  • R = Relationships - These relationships don't necessarily need to be romantic in nature, but should serve as positive connections with family, friends and a community that fulfills a belonging in your life. Strong and healthy social networks have proven to extend life and physical wellbeing.
  • M = Meaning or Motivation - Get out there...paddle your own canoe! You won't move in any direction unless you're curious and willing to learn and try new things. Pursuing interests that have meaning to you can build self-worth.  We've heard this before; include experiences that get you out of your comfort zone and provide personal value.
  • A = Achievement - Achievement can also be connected to engagement.  Try developing new goals that encourage ideas of personal growth. Be sure to give yourself high-fives for every achievement.  Listing or journaling your accomplishments, even the smallest ones, can be so satisfying and the best way to lift your confidence.  Also, it gives a hug of self-love and pride.

Finding the Positive Path in Nature

Each person's PERMA path will be different depending on where you're at in life and development. For instance, the path of a younger person will not be using the same elements of the model as a middle-aged empty-nester.  An individual's circumstances will focus on different ideas of the model through their life transitions.  One might focus on achievement while another would be interested in improving their relationships.

Personally, I've been concentrating on engagement and motivation. Previous emotional life transitions have motivated me to explore what's important to me by challenging my comfort zone and learning how to live a positive and healthy emotional lifestyle.  One of the positive things that came out of the pandemic was re-discovering and feeling rescued by finding pleasure in nature. I've been incredibly motivated by engaging in more hiking, biking and kayaking.

My recent adventure in May was to Lebanon Hills Regional Park.  This Minnesota regional park is the largest park system in Dakota County with 2,000 acres plopped in the middle of suburban Eagan, MN.  It has miles of trails, many lakes for year-round outdoor sports, recreation and environmental education.

LOVE this park and it's absolutely beautiful during the autumn season.  However, these pictures were taken in May as spring foliage was coming to life.

There are several of these boardwalks that intertwine the trails around Jensen Lake. I enjoy when the trails have a change of characteristics.  Boardwalks, stone and bridges are my favorite elements in nature parks.

It was a great day to enjoy trees in full bloom. Also, a tree growing sideways and twisted roots adds a peculiar interest to the pathway. 

Of course, you can also enjoy the park's wildlife.  Watching these two ducks plunge for their lunch provided some cute entertainment as their duck tails pop-up like synchronized swimmers.

Lebanon Hills covers a lot of ground and it would take many visits to see it all.  This park is a real gem and the hiking trails feel like you're in a remote wilderness area. Its convenient location in a metro area makes it a surprisingly fun place for adventure seekers.  Below is the link to map and location.

Final thoughts, does the PERMA model give you something to think about in deciding which pleasure path you'd like to improve?

I hope this adventure has inspired the sweet spot in you!



  1. That park looks so beautiful! We will have to check it out sometime.

    1. Lisa, yes we're fortunate in MN to have so many wonderful parks and lakes to enjoy. In my opinion, Lebanon Hills would be one of the top 10 parks in the Metro area.


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