Surprising Benefits of Surprise
Variety may be the spice of life, but surprise is the whipped cream, sprinkles and cherry atop your life sundae.
Whether your “ice cream” scoops are plain old vanilla or churned with more bits of complexity like Rocky Road, surprise is that added element that brings delight to our lives…if we look for it.
Say you’re craving some Mexican food for dinner and are trying to figure out where to go. Chances are you’ll hop on Yelp!, read the reviews and make a decision on where to go—avoiding bad restaurants and gravitating toward the must-try spots in town. Based on those reviews, you’ll have an expectation on what your restaurant experience will be and your range for being surprised becomes a great deal narrower. Thirty dollars a person for a three-star restaurant seems about right. But $8 for some knock-your-socks-off burritos cooked by an immigrant family at a no-name joint you drove past and popped in would be amazing! That’s surprise at its finest.
You can’t talk about surprise without mentioning its redheaded step-sister expectation. You may expect certain outcomes in your life—your friend’s going to be late showing up for lunch because he’s always late, a theater show is just going to be great because the reviews said it was, your next online date is going to be another warm maybe because your last seven were duds. When your friend actually shows up on time, the play was just so-so, but the female lead was absolutely mesmerizing, and your Match.com meet-up turns out to have a kick-ass sense of humor, you’ll be surprised.
Those small moments of surprise sow the seeds for hope that the next experience/person won’t be exactly what you expected. It may be better or it may be worse than you thought. But if you’re not death gripping your life with expectations, then your beliefs, behaviors and observations are open to change. And, as a result, life becomes a lot richer and happier.
The good news is surprise is cheap. Take a different route home from work than your usual path. Watch a movie without seeing how many stars it gets from IMDB. Leave a gift on someone’s desk at work. Compliment the janitor for the job they did to make your space clean. The list is endless for how you can experience and create surprise for yourself and others.
If there’s a particular time you’ve experienced surprise in a novel way, let us know on our Facebook page. And stay tuned for some pop-up surprise from the Thrive Creative Team in CLE this month.