How To Be Surprised

At the moment of death I hope to be surprised.  -Ivan Illich

I’m waiting for the biggest surprise of my life – boy or girl?  My wife’s due date was two days ago and the baby has decided to keep us in suspense a little longer.  I’ve never been more excited.

Unlike me, many people don’t get excited about surprises.  In fact, many people cringe at the thought.  Perhaps that’s because surprise inherently comes with a lack of control and that can be unsettling, especially when it brings bad news or events to your life.

But what about good surprises?  You know, those surprises that bring excitement, happiness and a sense of adventure to our lives.  Those unexpected acts that make us feel appreciated and loved.  Those are surprises that should be welcomed, not discouraged.

Life is full of opportunities to surprise us.  We don’t have to wait for the birth of a child.  Even little surprises can put a smile on our face and brighten our day.

Here are 6 ways to give up a little control and welcome surprise into your life:

1. Let the chef decide
Next time you’re out for dinner, ask the chef or waiter to choose a meal for you.  Have them serve their favorite dish or surprise you with something special.  I have done this regularly for years and have rarely been disappointed.  Most chefs and waiters will appreciate your faith in their expertise will make an extra effort to serve you a memorable meal.

2. Skip the reviews and trailers
When was the last time you went to a movie that you knew nothing about?  We go to the movies to be entertained, so it makes sense that we’d want to check reviews and watch trailers in advance.  Unfortunately those reviews and trailers often tell us so much that the plot becomes predictable and any surprises or twists are ruined.  Next time you go to a movie, chose one with a director or actors you like and skip the trailers and reviews.

3. Let someone else do the planning
Heading out with for a night on the town with some friends?  Ask them to make the plans.  Let them decide where you’ll go, what you’ll do and whom you’ll see.  Do you and your partner have a regular date night?  Take turns planning your night out and be surprised by each other’s fun and creative ideas of how to spend time together.

4. Shuffle
Sometimes we’re in the mood for a certain type of music, but on those days when nothing in particular is calling you, hit shuffle on your ipod or stereo.  I’m always surprised to hear songs from my collection that I had forgotten about.  And often the memories those songs conjure up bring surprises of their own.

5. Get out of your comfort zone
Never been to the ballet or opera and always wondered what all the fuss is about?  Buy a ticket.  Always thought indoor rock climbing looked difficult?  Find out.  Do things that are outside of your comfort zone and expand your knowledge and experiences.  You may be surprised with what you like and what you’re capable of.

6. Surprise someone else
Do something special for someone, clean the house before your spouse asks or pay someone an unexpected compliment.  Surprising someone else and sharing in their excitement, happiness and appreciation can be just as fulfilling as being surprised yourself.

Surprise comes with a lack of control and that can be hard to accept.  Then again, we’re probably not in control as often as we’d like to think.  Welcome surprise and enjoy the happiness, excitement and adventure it can bring to your life.

How do you let go of control and let yourself be surprised?



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  1. I love surprises! Most of the time. Not the blind date kind of surprise. A really tame thing I like to do is go to my local library with no idea of what I want to read, and wander through different sections picking up whatever books leaps out at me.

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