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Surprise summary

Tania Luna and LeeAnn Renninger

Embrace the Unpredictable and Engineer the Unexpected

4.2 (12 ratings)
16 mins

Brief summary

Surprise by Tania Luna and LeeAnn Renninger shows us the benefits of embracing unexpected moments. By changing our perceptions and habits, we can live more fulfilled and joyful lives.

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    Surprise is a feeling triggered by the brain when it fails to predict what will happen next.

    In a world rife with uncertainty, we often experience the sensation of surprise, whether it delights us or upsets us. But how exactly does surprise work?

    Surprise is activated when your brain fails to predict what will happen in the next moment.

    Your brain is endlessly whirring away, trying to predict what is about to take place; if something unpredictable happens, it immediately shifts into action.

    This function of the brain actually has an evolutionary advantage: when faced with a hungry predator, our prehistoric ancestors needed the sensation of surprise in order to react as soon as possible, and not end up as dinner.

    So what goes on in our brain when we’re surprised? Interestingly, the surprise response consists of several stages – a surprise sequence.

    Imagine yourself coming home to a room full of people yelling “SURPRISE!” The surprise sequence would go something like this:

    Freeze phase: in a fraction of a second, the surprise takes away your cognitive resources and brings all of your attention to the object of surprise, leaving you with the well-known duh face.

    Find phase: Your brain clambers through all the available information to figure out what on Earth just happened. In this case your brain realizes, “My friends gathered to throw me a surprise party!”

    Shift phase: Now your framework for understanding your circumstances shifts; the way you viewed your situation before has been altered by the surprise. You might start to think, “I won’t have a typical evening by myself tonight, but instead I’ll be partying with my friends.”

    Share phase: The previous three phases are hard work for the brain, so in order to lighten the workload, you share the experience with others. In this case, this means talking to your friends about it.

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    What is Surprise about?

    Surprise (2015) takes a closer look at the very concept of surprise, how it works and how to embrace and create it. What’s more, the authors show us how surprise can keep our relationships flourishing and allow us to live life to the fullest.

    Surprise Review

    Surprise: Embrace the Unpredictable and Engineer the Unexpected (2015) is a captivating exploration of the power and potential of surprises. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • With fascinating stories and real-life examples, it demonstrates how embracing surprises can enhance creativity, resilience, and overall well-being.
    • It provides valuable practical tools and strategies for intentionally incorporating surprises into our daily lives, encouraging personal growth and innovation.
    • Insightful and thought-provoking, the book challenges conventional thinking, inspiring readers to appreciate the beauty and transformative power of unexpected moments.

    Who should read Surprise?

    • Anyone bored with fixed routines and structures
    • Anyone with a fear of the unpredictable
    • Anyone curious about how surprise works

    About the Author

    A self-proclaimed surprisologist, Tania Luna is a co-founder and CEO of Surprise Industries – the only company in the world specializing in surprise. Luna has given a TED talk and is one of the leaders at LifeLabs New York.

    LeeAnn Renninger holds a PhD in social psychology and is a co-founder and director of training at LifeLabs New York.

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    Surprise FAQs 

    What is the main message of Surprise?

    The main message of Surprise is that embracing unexpected moments can bring joy, creativity, and growth to our lives.

    How long does it take to read Surprise?

    The reading time for Surprise varies, but it typically takes a few hours. The Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Surprise a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Surprise is worth reading for its unique insights on how surprises can enhance our lives. It provides practical tips to embrace the unexpected and find joy in the ordinary.

    Who is the author of Surprise?

    The authors of Surprise are Tania Luna and LeeAnn Renninger.

    What to read after Surprise?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Surprise, here are some recommendations we suggest:
    • The Power to Change by Campbell Macpherson
    • SuperLife by Darin Olien
    • The Myths of Happiness by Sonja Lyubomirsky
    • Zero Sugar / One Month by Becky Gillaspy
    • Surrounded by Setbacks by Thomas Erikson
    • One Decision by Mike Bayer
    • The Goodwill Jar by Nick O. Rowe
    • The Idea Is the Easy Part by Brian Dovey
    • The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
    • Daring Greatly by Brené Brown