After this wild ride of a year, many of us feel exhausted and frustrated. We may be downright grumpy. Understand. Paradoxically, it's times like these when cultivating gratitude is more important than ever. So is doing things just for the fun of it. I suggest a gratitude scavenger hunt.

Oh, I don't care how "grown-up" we all think we are. At heart, there's always our inner kid desperate to get out on occasion and have fun. When's the last time you just went outside to play? Yeah, like tromp around through the woods or neighborhood without any preconceived agenda like... "I must run for 60 minutes to achieve "X" fitness goal. We didn't think about that stuff (hopefully) when we were kids, did we? We'd run around outside and explore freely.

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I remember one of my favorite things to do was to find some kind of "treasure" and bring it home for my parents or just to sit on my windowsill to remind me of my adventure. It could be something as simple as a pretty stone or a pine cone. That wasn't the point, really. "Things" themselves rarely are. It's usually the memory they symbolize. I'm always grateful for those.

However, over the years we may have forgotten how to "go outside and play." OK. No worries. We shall just have to re-cultivate it. I've personally found one of the easiest ways to find my inner kid, or even just to feel happier generally-speaking, is by practicing gratitude. So why don't we combine the two?

Back to that aforementioned gratitude scavenger hunt. You can do it alone or with your kids or a significant other. Or for heaven's sake, take your dog. They teach us so much about gratefulness every. single. day.

Find a place where you can be in nature. Ideally, go to a park or find a friend who has a bit of land and explore. If those aren't available, then just walk around your neighborhood with fresh eyes.

Take a bag of some sort, if you'd like. Yet, you don't need to necessarily take all the things you find. Maybe you just need a picture. Use your judgment and be grateful and respectful of nature and our fellow inhabitants on this planet. And snacks. Always bring snacks. ;)

Consider listening to some music that calms your nerves and/or makes feel chill. Once you're outside, take a couple of deep breaths, and say "thank you." Then set out and make it a note to find something in nature that checks all of these boxes:

Here's what to look for:

1. Search for something that could be useful as is--or could be made into something that is. 

2. Look for something you could use to make a gift for someone you love. 

3. Find something that immediately makes you smile or you know would make someone else smile.

4. See if you can find something that you love to smell. It could be a flower or an herb. 

5. Search for one thing that you just like to look at...for awhile. Then, do so. 

Simple enough, eh? Take deep breaths along the way. Stop every now and then and say "thank you," again. Stay outside for at least thirty minutes, longer if you can. I hope you find the things on the list. Most of all? I hope you find a glimpse of your inner kiddo and of course, a spirit of gratefulness.

Sit down on a blanket and look at what you've found. Eat your snacks. Say "thank you."

Repeat as needed. <3

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