Surprise! Why the Unexpected Feels Good, and Why It’s Good For Us

A surprisoligist explains why it feels good when the unexpected is sprung on us, and why surprise is actually good for us.

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Around 1 minutes to read

Generally, I’m not a fan of surprises. The drawbacks tend to outweigh the benefits for me. I’ve never really understood why people enjoy surprises, and even moreso why people enjoy surprising others.

This article explains:

[Surprises are a] strong neuro alert that tells us that something is important about this moment and we have to pay attention… Our cognitive resources are basically hijacked and pulled into the moment. That’s one of the things that’s really uncomfortable for some people, but also exciting for some people because your attention is completely in the moment.

That articulates well what I don‘t like about surprises: it feels like it’s someone’s way of hijacking my attention. It feels manipulative.

But dang… this one cuts deep:

[I hated] the feeling of loss of control and the feeling of vulnerability. As a kid, I had experienced a lot of change and my coping mechanism was to say, ‘I’m in charge. I control everything. Nobody controls me and I can control the world around me.’ I was protecting myself from negative surprises. But what I’ve learned is that I was also keeping out joy, wonder, and emotional intensity.

Oof. I’m gonna explore this idea a bit more and try to notice what I positive things I may be unintentionally keeping out.

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