Everything Is Surprise
Being open to surprise is an antidote to a life lived on autopilot. Nothing surprising will come from projecting what we think we know. It does not come from anticipating the same-old same-old. It comes from the unforeseen. We need to be relieved of our propensity to think that life is within the white-knuckled purview of our control. With fewer efforts to predict and control, more of life emerges as itself, and with that will come both delight and difficulty. If we try to control everything, we may screen out some difficulty, but we will inevitably screen out delight, too.
As we become more present, surprise will accompany us on what was formerly a mind-numbing commute to work, or a routine trip up and down the aisles of a grocery store. We are alert to appreciation as we weren’t before, and the old becomes new again. Textures and complexities suddenly surface and beckon amazement. We notice things in sharp relief, as if we have not seen them before: colors, sounds, feelings, sensations. Once set on this new path, we find that everything and everyone we thought we knew begins to surprise us: weather, foods, neighbors, words. Even ourselves.
Surprise is the seed of gratefulness. Become aware of surprises. Relish surprise as life’s gift.Br. David Steindl-Rast
When we are available for unencumbered encounters with life, we see that there is a lot more going on, and a lot more possible, than our limited capacities and interests can fathom. One of the great enemies of learning is “knowing.” To greet life with curiosity and wonder is to value surprise. Curiosity is a willingness to learn anew, to be changed, shaken out of our comfort zones. A state of wonder opens us to new ways of seeing, and delivers us space for discovery and inquisitiveness. We spend great reserves of energy and resource orchestrating elaborate enjoyable experiences, and all the while things are happening around us that can offer greater pleasure than we could ever coordinate. Look up — shooting stars. Look down — heart-shaped stones. Look around — faces with stories they are longing to tell. We all have room for discovery, and grateful living is the doorway that opens to it.
Openness to surprise delivers on the big promise of Grateful Living: awareness of opportunity. When we live gratefully, we open all our senses toward opportunities, aware that they are always there, no matter our circumstances. We become surprised to discover opportunities between, behind, and around the things to which we have become accustomed. It is we who need to lean in, listen for them, and follow their invitations. The process of continually waking up points us to live more gratefully, with each opportunity seen as the chance to notice and appreciate the gifts in our midst, and each moment we are alive as the chance to truly live.
Excerpted from Wake Up Grateful: The Transformative Practice of Taking Nothing for Granted
Wake Up Grateful
The Transformative Practice of Taking Nothing for Granted
What does it mean to truly live gratefully, every day? Wake Up Grateful unlocks the path to recognizing abundance in every moment, and gives readers the tools to bring this transformational shift in perspective into their daily lives.
The Way of Grateful Living
Grateful Living is supported by guiding pathways, daily practices, habits of mind,
and behaviors that make us more appreciative and available to life.
These Five Guiding Principles are touchstones to support your practice: