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Navigating Uncertainty with Surprise and Delight

Support from the Page of Cups for Pieces and The Moon Card

Are you someone who enjoys surprises? What about a surprise birthday party?

If the idea of all your friends and family jumping out from behind the furniture to wish you a surprise happy birthday sounds awful to you, you’re not alone.

When Googling the word surprise, the top question was, “What is a better word for surprise?”

It’s not uncommon for adults to say they hate surprises, yet as children we love surprises.

At a birthday party of mine, I got to watch the excitement of my friend’s four-year-old daughter as she marveled at each of my gifts, exclaiming, “What is it inside?!” The actual presents were less interesting to her than the mystery of something unknown, about to be revealed.

As children, we welcome the unknown. How could we not? Almost everything is unknown when we’re kids. We need adults to keep us safe from harm as we grow.

The more that we experience, the more we learn. Based on our past experiences, we learn to anticipate potential dangers. This is a natural and healthy part of the ego’s formation.

The ego wants to keep us safe, a beautiful intention. Unfortunately, in its drive for self-preservation, the ego inevitably creates barriers for the actual enjoyment of safety.

If we’ve been surprised by a bee-sting while sitting in a field of clover, we wisely learn to avoid bees; however, the ego may also come up with a story that tells us lying in a field of clover and looking at the clouds is too great a risk.

Our brains are amazing. At all times, they calculate so much information. To do so efficiently and avoid overwhelm, the brain sorts data into categories of threatening, important, and not important buckets, so to speak. Unfortunately, our sense of wonderment can get tossed out with the ‘not important’ bucket.

Our ability to anticipate risk is critical to our survival. Wonderment is not. It is however, a requirement for experiencing joy.