illustration of binoculars with hearts in lenses

Becoming A Beauty Hunter

by Brittni Barcase

If you search the internet for “beautiful” photos, literally every perfect image out there appears — images of flowers perfectly arranged, people with perfect make-up, lighting that seems too good to be true, ocean views and perfect beaches, the list goes on. But what about the kind of beautiful you have to dig for, the kind you literally need to squint to see?⁣

Enter the term “beauty hunting.” A term coined by the one and only Jen Pastiloff, author, public speaker, yoga teacher, founder of online magazine, “The Manifest Station,” and all around incredible human being. A term that means just what it says, to hunt for beauty. To dig. To search and find it amidst the clutter and fog and dirt and mess and sadness.⁣

The first time I heard this term, I fell in love with the idea of getting on my backpack and grabbing my flashlight and going on an expedition to find beauty, but instead of it being this grand gesture, it would just be part of daily focus every moment of every day, especially when life feels challenging.

Then one day, I went to an all-day teambuilding retreat. For one of the activities, I was partnered up with someone and the prompt was that each of us would take turns being blindfolded and led out into the clearing (imagine a wide-open area outside with a gazebo and woodlands off in the distance) where our partner would frame our hands to showcase something that they deemed beautiful. When my partner said “okay, open your eyes” and in my framed hands I saw a water spicket, I was able to appreciate something beyond my own thoughts and ideas. They chose the water spicket because it brings water – something that nourishes our bodies and our world – to show me. I kid you not that I, along with everyone else experiencing this activity, let out an audible “wow” upon opening our eyes to see the beautiful “thing”.

So, how might you cultivate this sense of surprise and deep appreciation in beauty hunting by yourself? Start by standing or sitting in a space you feel comfortable in. Connect with your body for a moment and your breath. Close your eyes and turn yourself to find a new facing, but don’t open your eyes just yet! Get comfortable again by feeling your roots on the ground, through your feet or your seat, and feel your breath as it calmly makes your chest rise and fall.

Now, when you’re ready, you’re going to open your eyes and the first thing your eyes land on, look for the beauty there. Ask yourself these questions:

  • What am I looking at?
  • What color(s) does it have?
  • Is there a texture to it?
  • What about a temperature— is it cold or hot or neutral?
  • Does it have a purpose?
  • What is loveable about this thing?
  • Have I ever noticed it before now?
  • How can I appreciate it?
  • Can I cultivate gratitude for it?

Maybe there are other questions you can ask yourself as you sit in the seat of the beauty hunter. Take whatever time you have to be with your thoughts and when you are ready, notice your breathing again and how your body feels after this experience. Perhaps you can carry whatever you are feeling with you as you enter the rest of your day.

This practice, whether you are deliberate about it as in this example or simply carry a more passive approach with you throughout your day, can help you adopt a habitually positive mindset, ultimately aiding you in cultivating psychological strength and resilience.

Look for beauty, even if you have to squint. Happy beauty hunting!

Originally posted on The Mental Well website. The Mental Well is an initiative of JCS for young adults navigating life’s highs and lows.

Brittni Barcase

Brittni Barcase is Manager of Prevention & Wellness at JCS.


Jewish Community Services (JCS) provides programs and services for people of all ages and backgrounds, helping them achieve their goals, enhance their wellbeing, and maximize their independence. To learn more, visit jcsbalt.org or call 410-466-9200.

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