A sense of astonishment or amazement that is caused by something “sudden or unexpected (Psychology.iresearch.net, 2018); This is considered the very definition of what “surprise” is, but there is a little more to it than that. According to Plutchik, in the realm of survival as a basic human emotion it is a primary catalyst to focus and dedicate some period of time to analysis/appraisal of events and circumstances and to learn from them to later incorporate them into the greater framework of our applied knowledge of the world (changingminds.org, 2016). There are two important factors that play into this. The first is the ease of imagining, and the second is the current state and level of anticipation (Psychology.iresearch.net, 2018).
The more you can imagine as a possibility the less likely it is to be unexpected. That seems a bit self-explanatory, but why are people at times surprised by common occurrences; The answer may lie in their current state and level of anticipation. It’s easy to imagine that a soccer ball (or football for my readers outside of the States) would fly across a playing field. However, if one is having a conversation and a game or practice are not under way, it may come as a surprise to see one zipping by close to where you stand. The state and level of anticipation could take on 3 elements of consideration: nature of occurrence (how/ the ball falling seemingly directly from the sky), nature of event (what/ the ball appearing at all when few are even present) and the aesthetics (the details of what manifested such as physical appearances/ the ball being on fire). If all three examples given for each element occur, surely the level of surprise would be quite high, unless the experiences, imagination and current anticipation of the person in question (which I couldn’t imagine would not be too common) are aligned with the event.
What does this mean for us in a practical sense? Well, I would first venture to say that we could take a look at what surprises us and consciously try to learn from it, rather than passively which from my personal experience is how I mostly learn from surprise. I would ask is this something that I wouldn’t have imagined? Is it something I would have easily imagined and why or why not? Why did I not anticipate it? Was I unaware of my surroundings, unaware of circumstances leading up to it? What does that say about myself, my relationships with those involved in and or effected by the event? What does that say about my safety, my awareness of the present moment, my concern or involvement with circumstances surrounding this? What does this say about my understanding of the world around me and myself?
I thought that I knew
A Moment of a New Reality
Plausibility, trapped in new eyes
grasp the new ambition
bringing feeble states into uncertainty
sudden instances, experiments
expiration of worries
the beginning of sight
Poem by Stephen Perro
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Changingminds.org, (2016),Explanations, Evolution, “Plutchik’s Ten Postulates”, retrieved from http://changingminds.org/explanations/evolution/plutchnik_postulates.htm#10
Psychology.iresearch.net, (2018), Social-psychology, Emotions, “Surprise”, retrieved from http://psychology.iresearchnet.com/social-psychology/emotions/surprise/