“It may be a surprise that surprise is our least understood of emotions. Yet in a moment of surprise, we often form a new belief that becomes part of our identity. And our identity, our sense of self – of who we are – guides our actions every day.
Most surprises are processed unconsciously by our brain, but the power of surprise is to be in a ready state to be on the look out for the smallest surprises that come along, process them consciously, interpret them and use them strategically to enhance our self-esteem.
Rousell writes about the power of surprise in a lucid, scientific, and accessible way. He brings the science to life with a plethora of examples that entertain, inform, and educate the reader.
Surprise has the power to create a neurological storm – the brain loves novelty – that arouses our self-bias. Our sense of self is at the heart of our conscious awakening and a repository of the life story we tell ourselves. Our ability to process surprise helps us organise our emotional lives.
Surprise can of course be a negative experience, like losing your job, and training the mind to process experiences less destructively can improve mental health and wellbeing especially during the pandemic.
As an educator and coach, the power of surprise can be used tactically to build people’s confidence, for example when giving feedback. Praise makes people grow. Kindness and compassion connects us all as fellow human beings.
Michael’s book is full of wonderful stories of how surprise can uplift the human spirit and provide hope out of the depths of despair.
The desperate caller to the Manhattan Suicide Prevention Hotline who is surprised to hear that the volunteer actually cares whether they jump off the Brooklyn bridge is testimony to the life-saving social power of surprise.
Channelling positive thought and energy out of deeply emotional surprises and wiring them into our consciousness can ultimately result in a more positive, more resilient self-image.
Michael’s book is a timely gift in a fast-changing world where people are feeling increasingly uncertain and anxious.
Having a strong sense of self, shaped by beliefs, moulded by emotional events and sculpted by surprises, can help people be more emotionally resilient and deal with change more confidently.
The Power of surprise should be read by the widest possible audience. It has the power to improve people’s mental health and well-being in the increasingly uncertain times we are living in.”