Simple Surprises

Simple Surprises

Kathryn Flores, community editor

by Kathryn Flores
Community Relations and Advertising Consultant
Argyle Living & Lantana Living

The unexpected moment is always sweeter.

Life is full of coordinating sport and school schedules, planning playdates, weekly meal menus, grocery lists and organized chaos of everyday life. The need to pre-plan every plan is my biggest strength and weakness. These life tools can certainly make our lives and professions more efficient. However, they also can make people less exciting and surprising. With so much at our immediate disposal, I wonder, if we are robbing each other of opportunities for serendipity—the delightful surprises that happen when we least expect them.

Don’t misunderstand, coordinating schedules is essential, but that doesn’t mean we should ignore the element of surprise, because surprise is still probably the most powerful happiness tool of all. In fact, I’ve found surprise is quite addictive. Recently, I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to deliver two surprises to family by showing up unannounced at monumental moments. Seeing my 90-year-old grandmother unexpectedly open the door to her great-grandsons with tears streaming from her eyes is a moment that will never been forgotten. As Christmas approached, so did illness for my father. His heart is full, but it has significantly weakened, therefore my parents were unable to make the trip to share the holidays, so we drove hours to surprise them on Christmas evening. As we walked down the sterile hallway of the hospital, nurses saw us and squealed, already knowing who we were (you see, his grandsons are the biggest joy in his life). Opening the doors, it was clear he is weak, but the fullness of love in his eyes will be a moment I’ll remember forever. As life matures us, the simple joys of kindness, love, empathy and compassion coupled with moments of surprise can be life-changing.

As common people, we are designed to crave the unexpected. I find that surprise changes behavior, turbocharges emotions and is often cheap. Combine happiness with surprise, and you hit the upper register of the feeling-good scale. Whether it’s sending flowers on a random Tuesday or buying a coffee for the person in line behind you, the selfless act will certainly leave a mark on the heart of someone else. It really comes down to a question of imagination, bravery and even a bit of coordination. And, I suspect, being open to situations where you might be surprised yourself. In the end, most people are inherently good-hearted and want to please others. My guiding philosophy is this: the most valuable things we possess are our time and attention. The greatest gift someone can give me is to share their time and give me their full attention. What a rare gift in these days of excessive screen-time and devices! Eventually, the simple surprises of undivided attention is what stays in our remembrance and leaves the greatest impact on our lives and what most of us crave.

As we walk into 2017 together, I hope we won’t be afraid, look forward to the surprises in life. Each day, let’s take a couple of minutes to jot down what surprised us that day. Those notes are what makes our life special. Celebrate being special and enjoy the surprises in your life. I wish for each of you, my friends, a special year filled with joy. Happy New Year.

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