Word-Of-the-Week #701: Surprises

January 11, 2018 by  

Surprisesfeeling wonder, astonishment, or amazement, of things unanticipated.

When was the last time you felt wonder or amazement? Or absolutely blown away by the unexpected? And would you believe that surprises bring vitality to your life?

Long time friend Ken wrote this about Adventure, “I loved your WOW this week. It reminds me of what might still be on my bucket list!” Which triggered me to write this week’s WOW.

Some of my best surprises showed up in my travels. Like when my mother said, “You have to go to China to see the Terra Cotta Soldiers.” I had no idea what I was going to see and what an incredible surprise! Over 8000 life-size clay soldiers poised for battle along with horses and chariots were buried and found by a farmer in his field.

And then the time I was in Mexico City and went to Xochimilco dubbed the “Venice of Mexico.” Thinking I was taking a nice quiet canoe ride on a narrow canal we turned into a much wider one lined with boats filled with flowers, food, and festive mariachis. It was so much FUN we went back several months later and celebrated one of my friend’s birthdays there!

Jill Suttie, author of “Why Humans Need Surprise” says that surprise, whether good or bad, is critical for bringing vitality to our lives. She writes, “During a recent out of town vacation, I was in a restaurant having dinner alone when I overheard two women at the next table having a conversation about their children going off to college. Though I’m normally shy with strangers, I decided to butt in—I too have a college-bound senior—which led to a great conversation and an unexpected surprise: one of the women had a child at my son’s high school…and our kids knew each other! 

Delightful surprises like this can make your whole day. Of course, not all surprises are good ones—those two women could have just as easily chastised me for interrupting their conversation. 

But in the book “Surprise: Embrace the Unpredictable and Engineer the Unexpected,” Tania Luna and Leeann Renninger argue that surprise, whether good or bad, is important for bringing vitality to our lives. Their book explores the science and practice of engineering surprise—whether at work, at home, or in our relationships—and provides a pathway to living life with more engagement and wonder. 

Why is surprise important? It turns out that surprise works on the dopamine system in our brains, helping us to focus our attention and inspiring us to look at our situation in new ways.

This week I want you to think about delightful surprises you’ve had. Does the memory bring a smile to your face? How about that feeling of amazement? Can you imagine a life where you embrace the unpredictable and engineer the unexpected?

Stay tuned…Next week I will share more reasons why surprises are good for you!

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