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Discover this Principle

Explore the principle Everything Is Surprise through this curated collection of resources.

Community Reflections

Community Reflections: Trusting Life

by The Grateful Living Community
Deep trust in life is not a feeling but a stance that you deliberately take.…

Deepening Our Comfort with Uncertainty

by Kristi Nelson
You do not need to know precisely what is happening, or exactly where it is…

Everything Is Surprise

Being open to surprise is an antidote to a life lived on autopilot. Nothing surprising will come from projecting what we think we know. It does not come from anticipating the same-old same-old. It comes from the unforeseen. We need to be relieved of our propensity to think that life is within the white-knuckled purview of our control. With fewer efforts to predict and control, more of life emerges as itself, and with that will come both delight and difficulty. If we try to control everything, we may screen out some difficulty, but we will inevitably screen out delight, too.

As we become more present, surprise will accompany us on what was formerly a mind-numbing commute to work, or a routine trip up and down the aisles of a grocery store. We are alert to appreciation as we weren’t before, and the old becomes new again. Textures and complexities suddenly surface and beckon amazement. We notice things in sharp relief, as if we have not seen them before: colors, sounds, feelings, sensations. Once set on this new path, we find that everything and everyone we thought we knew begins to surprise us: weather, foods, neighbors, words. Even ourselves.

Surprise is the seed of gratefulness. Become aware of surprises. Relish surprise as life’s gift.

Br. David Steindl-Rast

When we are available for unencumbered encounters with life, we see that there is a lot more going on, and a lot more possible, than our limited capacities and interests can fathom. One of the great enemies of learning is “knowing.” To greet life with curiosity and wonder is to value surprise. Curiosity is a willingness to learn anew, to be changed, shaken out of our comfort zones. A state of wonder opens us to new ways of seeing, and delivers us space for discovery and inquisitiveness. We spend great reserves of energy and resource orchestrating elaborate enjoyable experiences, and all the while things are happening around us that can offer greater pleasure than we could ever coordinate. Look up — shooting stars. Look down — heart-shaped stones. Look around — faces with stories they are longing to tell. We all have room for discovery, and grateful living is the doorway that opens to it.

Openness to surprise delivers on the big promise of Grateful Living: awareness of opportunity. When we live gratefully, we open all our senses toward opportunities, aware that they are always there, no matter our circumstances. We become surprised to discover opportunities between, behind, and around the things to which we have become accustomed. It is we who need to lean in, listen for them, and follow their invitations. The process of continually waking up points us to live more gratefully, with each opportunity seen as the chance to notice and appreciate the gifts in our midst, and each moment we are alive as the chance to truly live.

Excerpted from Wake Up Grateful: The Transformative Practice of Taking Nothing for Granted

Wake Up Grateful

The Transformative Practice of Taking Nothing for Granted

What does it mean to truly live gratefully, every day? Wake Up Grateful unlocks the path to recognizing abundance in every moment, and gives readers the tools to bring this transformational shift in perspective into their daily lives.

Digging Deeper

For continued exploration of opening to surprise, dive into these additional resources.

silhouette of a woman standing at the shore of a tree lined lake at sunset with her arms open

Trusting Uncertainty

by The Grateful Living Team
Living with uncertainty asks us to experience a level of vulnerability that can often feel…
a wooden dock juts out over a calm lake surrounded by green trees

Stop Being a Glass. Become a Lake.

by Carrie Newcomer
In such troubled times, it can feel as if the world has poured a handful…
A person looking up with curiosity

Daily Questions: Our Invitation to Mystery

by The Grateful Living Team
Returning to the magic and mystery of questions as a daily practice, we continually open…

This Love Poem Living Through You

by Greta Matos
Imagine for a moment: It’s your last day on this beautiful Earth. As you draw…
silhouette of person gazing up at night sky
Community Reflections

Community Reflections: Moments of Wonder

by The Grateful Living Community
“Every moment is unique, offering its own way to connect to what is deepest within…

Gratitude Art Journaling: A Guided Exploration

by Margaret Alvarez
Margaret Alvarez shares how gratitude came to be such an important part of her life,…

The Way of Grateful Living

Grateful Living is supported by guiding pathways, daily practices, habits of mind,
and behaviors that make us more appreciative and available to life. 

These Five Guiding Principles are touchstones to support your practice:

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Life is a Gift

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Everything is Surprise

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The Ordinary Is Extraordinary

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Appreciation Is Generative

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Love is transformative