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The Gift of Surprises

Article by Tom Gilbert - © 2005

Surprises can come in many new and unexpected ways. The very nature of a surprise can result in sudden realizations that things are not always the way they seem.

Routines are a natural way of living. We need organization and structure to keep us from aimlessly wandering. However, the pitfall is that our routines can become ruts. As a friend of mine is fond of saying, “I don’t just get in a rut…I move in and furnish it!” The surprises in our lives have a way of jarring us from this false reality and opening us up to new possibilities.

Some surprises are occasions of joy. Think about the times you've received a letter or phone call from a long lost friend. Somehow the time that has passed melts away with the sound of their voice or the thoughts from their pen.

A surprise can also be a shock. It’s not always a pleasant experience. News of health problems, tragic events, financial challenges or the heartbreaking loss of a loved one may surprise us. These unwelcome surprises may force you to face some personal demons. The knowledge that you are not in control of your life, that death is real and comes to everyone, and that no matter how well you plan things are not going to turn out the way you want it are often bitter pills to swallow.

The good news is that surprises, either pleasant or otherwise, are necessary for our continued growth.

Cultivating surprise in your life can have many positive benefits. Surprise can bring about discovery and a new way of seeing. The new thinking, ideas, vision, goals and plans that come from simply “suiting up and showing up” for daily living have led to many powerful “ah-ha” moments in my life.

Perhaps the greatest benefit of living with an expectation of - even a hope for - surprises is the renewed sense of wonder that comes from being truly open to change. Don’t fear surprise. It is a valuable teacher.

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