A few days ago, when I slid into the driver’s seat for the first time since the anaesthetic haze following surgery had cleared, I buckled up for my debut solo excursion in nearly a month. I noticed how spotless the windshield looked.
The car was immaculate. Lint and debris had disappeared from the seats and floor mats. Bottles of water sat in the spaces designed for them. Clearly my husband had intended to surprise me.
I was delighted. His unexpected actions have long left me glowing in appreciation and gratitude. Later that day, I asked two friends to share moments when they had been surprised.
One’s husband had greeted her just that morning with a selection of seed packets along with his observation that our March morning promised she could plant soon.
The other smiled shyly and shared a photo of her Christmas gift, one that had been presented to her 15 months before.
Her husband had promised to bring her breakfast in bed every morning. Now, more than a year later, he was still showing his commitment by honouring his word. Their grown daughter, impressed, had recently taken the photo during a visit to her parents’ home.
What sorts of surprises might be welcome?
By doing something that needs doing and that the loved one may not have the time, resources, or skills to do, a surprise not only gets the task done but can bring the added relief of taking it off the to-do list. Unfinished business is a huge energy drain.
Flowers mysteriously appear on the table. The bed pillows are arranged in a new and attractive design. He serves a dinner that appeal to the eye as well as the palate.
Each morning I dress carefully. When living in Paris, I had learned that local women carefully put themselves together in order to bring smiles to those they encounter.
This traditional Parisian nod to how we are all connected convinced me that investing a few minutes each day hoping to bring a moment of pleasure was an easy way to add respect in the world.
A touch of comfort
An unexpected cup of tea during a long day says “I understand.” An extra blanket draped across shoulders on a cold night says “I want you to be warm.”
A gift package of her favorite pens or a custom photo blanket of the family would be well appreciated.
A bit of whimsy
Once I wrote notes of gratitude to my husband on multi-colored post-its. I embellished them with peel-and-stick gold stars, the ones that teachers give to earnest students, and hid them all over the house.
Each time he discovered a new note, he grinned. Years later, one remains affixed to the inner lid of the wooden box where he keeps watches and cuff-links.
How many parents tuck a note with a happy thought into a lunch box each day?
How and why do surprises show love?
For a surprise to please rather than annoy, it must be one that shows understanding of the beloved, even when he or she denies a desire but secretly harbours it.
Knowing what is truly wanted by the other shows attention to the loved one and his or her cues.
A surprise gift from you such as a personalisierte unterwäsche can not only get them excited, but also show a certain level of intimacy, affirming comfort and closeness.
A flower for a person who is allergic to them is not a pleasant surprise; perhaps a jar of her favourite jam would be a better choice. But for someone who has a great interest in flowers, getting the flowers from a local florist who delivers flowers (such as Clyde North Flowers Delivery) might be a better option.
My husband knows I dislike emptying the dishwasher and often surprises me when I open it and find it in pristine condition. Sometimes he exclaims, “Happiness is an empty dishwasher!”
A surprise can show forethought, and thus an extra measure of attention to allocating resources.
Surprises can alter moods. By providing an encounter with the unexpected, you can jolt a person out of their mindset and into the present. Two benefits can follow. There are times when some of them pull pranks saying “we’ll send shit to someone” but I’m not sure how good of a surprise that would be unless you sent it to someone you’re not so fond of.
The sudden positive emotion can replace a momentary darker one. In addition, over time, expectations themselves can shift. This is particularly helpful if a person needs more optimism in their life.
Finding happy surprises can eventually temper a response to the unexpected, shifting what was once a reaction of fear or aversion to the unknown into curiosity.
What was the last surprise that made you smile? How have you recently surprised someone you love? Did you ever receive an unwanted surprise and then, most challenging; manage to explain why your reaction was not the one expected? In what ways did that exchange affect your relationship?
Source: Roni Beth Tower, Psychology Today