We Could All Benefit From A ‘Gratitude Scavenger Hunt’

by Christine Organ
We Could All Benefit From A ‘Gratitude Scavenger Hunt’
Scary Mommy and Marc Romanelli/Getty

Last week, I was in a bit of a funk. Oh, who am I kidding, I’ve been in a bit of a funk for the past two and half months. I’ve been grouchy. I’m slogging through the day, unable to focus and generally just “off.” I feel mentally and emotionally and even physically exhausted. This whole global pandemic thing can really bring a girl down, that’s for sure.

I could definitely use a pick-me-up, and maybe you could too.

Folks love to tout the power of a gratitude to combat the blues. And as much as it sounds like trite advice, they’re right. Perspective really is everything.

It isn’t just anecdotal evidence either; research also backs it up too. Harvard Medical School reports that research done by psychologists Dr. Robert A. Emmons of the University of California, Davis and Dr. Michael E. McCullough of the University of Miami, found that those who wrote about gratitude for 10 weeks were more optimistic and satisfied with their lives than those who spent 10 weeks journaling about things that irritated them.

Some common gratitude practices include a gratitude journal, writing thank you letters, prayer or meditation, and generally taking a glass-half-full-count-your-blessing approach to life. But let’s be honest, some of these things are easier said than done. I’d love to have hours to spending writing in a gratitude journal each day, but most days are a sprint from sun-up-to-sun-down before collapsing in a heap, too mentally drained to do anything other than stay mindlessly at whatever is on the Food Network. Same for letter writing. And sometimes I am just too much in my feelings to take a count-your-blessings approach. Don’t even get me started on trying to get my kids to be more grateful and appreciative; they’d much rather work on mastering that art of whining and complaining.

Simply put: those helpful and happiness-inducting gratitude practices are hard sometimes, especially in the midst of world that feels flipped upside down.

Which is why I absolutely adore this Gratitude Scavenger List created by Simple Acres Blog. It was recently posted on the We Are Teachers Facebook page, and has since been shared more than 6,400 times. It is simple, straight-forward, and doesn’t even feel like a “gratitude practice,” per se.

That’s because it’s a game. Muck like a typical scavenger hunt, it includes a list of things to find – but because you’re looking for “simple pleasures,” you can’t help but feel more grateful and less funk-ish in the process.

The list includes things like “find something that’s your favorite color” and “find something that makes you happy” and “find something that you can use to make a gift for someone.” It’s perfect for a family walk, or a class Zoom activity, though as one commenter pointed out, you may be able to find all these things right inside your home – the ultimate stimulant of gratitude.

There are plenty of other options for gratitude scavenger hunts, and if you’re really creative, you can come up with your own too.

What I love about these gratitude scavenger hunts is that they don’t have to feel like we’re teaching our kids a “lesson”; it just becomes a fun game. In the process, the entire family can have a little fun, forget about how the world feels like it’s falling apart, and practice the art of gratitude. It’s a win-win.

The pandemic has really upended our lives, and maybe it’s time for a new perspective. If for no other reason than my grouchiness is getting kind of boring. I’m ready for something new. A scavenger hunt around the neighborhood to remind me that there is still so much to be grateful for, so much to appreciate, so much beauty in this wild and brutal world… well, that might be just the thing to do it.