Surprise! Your Brain Likes Surprises

Surprise! You just got an unexpected delivery of a beautiful bouquet of flowers while you were hard at work in the office. Your mood instantly changes for the better. Why is this? Recent studies have found that the brain’s pleasure center is ‘switched on’ when we experience unexpected events. Experiencing surprise is important to add variety to our lives. Just how is surprise important to our brain health and how do we invite more surprise into our lives? Here are three ways for you to get more surprise into your life:


3 Ways to Surprise Your Brain

  1. Change your mindset. Do you feel vulnerable in unfamiliar situations? Perhaps you’re at a gathering where you don’t know many people there. Rather than feeling vulnerable, try and rein in those uneasy emotions and transform your thoughts. Instead of feeling vulnerable, actively focus on changing that to feeling open. Don’t be afraid to share something personal or a silly fact about yourself. You may surprise yourself with a new, unexpected friendship. As mentioned before, this will light up the brain’s pleasure center, being that the brain finds unexpected pleasures more rewarding than expected ones. So, go on and be open to new friendships! You will make your brain happy.
  2. Change your routine. Mix things up in your routine. Do you have a set routine you follow every morning? Even if it’s a small change, change it up! Instead of going to the same restaurant every week, pick a totally different location and cuisine. Instead of driving to work, try taking the bus. Instead of your go-to coffee order, ask the barista to make their favorite drink for you. Remember this: the brain likes stimulation. More surprises mean more stimulation. You may be surprised to find that you thrive on variety in your mornings, rather than a routine.
  3. Curiosity. Try and become more aware and more curious about your surroundings. Have you lived in your town for a while? There may be areas of your town that you haven’t even discovered yet. Devote a day to getting lost in your city. Are you feeling more adventurous? Gather up your partner or friend, hop in the car, set a location in your GPS, and do the opposite of what the directions say until you are in a completely new location you can explore! Studies have actually shown that surprise motivates us to learn. So, go on and learn about your new discoveries. Your brain will thank you.


When you are open to surprises happening, you will be sure to live a more exciting and stimulating life. Your brain health thrives on variety and surprise, so use these tips and live a fun-filled life!