8 tips to make your life more surprising, from Tania Luna, Surprisologist

I’m onboard with Surpisology. This is a great article for someone who is looking to enjoy life nuances a little more.

TED Blog

A closeup of Tania Luna, with glow stick. Photo: James Duncan Davidson A closeup of Tania Luna, with glow stick. Photo: James Duncan Davidson

In today’s talk, Tania Luna shares her experience of immigrating to the United States from Ukraine as a little girl. Perfectly happy with her family’s outhouse and with chewing a single piece of Bazooka gum for a week, Luna found herself blown away by the wonders of her new country. From pizza to pennies to pit-bulls, Luna’s moving story reminds us to appreciate the unexpected joys of daily life and to embrace uncertainty. This philosophy translates directly to Luna’s day job, as a Surprisologist. Luna co-founded Surprise Industries, a company that curates delightful experiences for both individuals and teams. (Read more about Luna’s work in this TED Blog Q&A.) “Surprises make life simultaneously more serene and more exciting,” says Luna. Below, she offers 8 pieces of advice for how everyone can make their lives a…

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How Gloves Caused My Paradigm Shift

I’m weird.

Although I don’t have the tenure on this earth as the truly “wise”, my varying life experiences continually add up in my mind over time and constantly allow me to appreciate life more after each life incident. When I say “life incident”, I don’t necessarily mean a MAJOR life event, but even a seemingly mundane task. Because all life events are naturally so important to me, I tend to over-analyze anything and everything. The point of view I am about to explain will feel like a paradigm shift to some, but hopefully my insight will allow for great amounts of appreciation and optimism in your life, as it did for me.

Here is what I suggest you try: think deeply about anything (e.g. an object, a lifestyle, a song, etc.), and try to truly appreciate where that thing came from — how it was created and who created it.

For Example…

Around a week ago, I ordered a pair of black leather gloves from Tanga. I ordered the gloves on a Saturday and received them the following Thursday. Maybe I am the only one in the world who feels this way in our modern dog-eat-dog society, but in a situation like this I instantly think of the people sending me my new gloves. Their daily tasks and perspectives in life come from the Tanga warehouse. Just as I go to work in a marketing firm everyday, these Tanga employees work 8:00 to 5:00 Monday through Friday to ensure that people like me are receiving their gloves and other products in a timely manner and efficiently.

Upon shipment, the gloves are put on a semi-truck, driven hundreds of miles, then transferred to a local FedEx truck. Finally after making his city-wide rounds, the FedEx driver pulls up to my house, sets the package down, and rings the doorbell. That’s his job – delivering packages!

Thinking about this, in turn, allows me to appreciate the idea of capitalism. Capitalism is essentially the idea that each person in a society specializes in one specific thing. As communities we count on others to make our products for us, make us dinner, or provide our entertainment. Just think about this — if we never adopted capitalism we would still be making our own clothes, cars would not exist, and we would all be farmers for a living, living on the ground and planting only that which we can use ourselves. It would take me a long time to make a pair of leather gloves.

Alongside my appreciation for capitalism comes my appreciation for all of those innovators throughout past societies — those who have ever thought, “why is it this way?” and  “how can this system be more efficient?”. If these people were not bold enough to speak up against status quo, we would not improve anything as a society, just plateau. Things like the internet, smartphones, Tanga, Facebook, or Twitter would not even be in existence if it weren’t for innovation.

Even deeper yet, I appreciate the parents of those thought-provokers for either a supportive upbringing, or making that upbringing challenging enough so that they inevitably learned to make all decisions on their own without adjusting to what society tries telling them. If it weren’t for those specific parents of those specific thought-provokers of societal changes giving us capitalism, I would have no leather gloves!

(Keep in mind, these thoughts all sparked because of a “simple” ten dollar internet order consisting of a few pieces of prettied-up cow skin that I plan to wear over my own hand skin to keep from feeling cold while outdoors in somewhat-rural Nebraska.)

At the same rate, I appreciate the leather from these gloves. I begin to find myself wondering what the cow looked like, where it was raised, who owned it, etc. I then try to picture the factory where these gloves were made. According to the tag on the inside of one glove, they were made in China. Where and how did these Chinese adults (formed together to run a company) acquire this leather, thread, and polyester? Was it made in a sweat shop where children are working like slaves? Was it shipped to them domestically via EMS Worldwide Express Mail Service or produced in a different country which is more specialized in producing these components? Nebraska is known for having an overwhelming number of cows and corn; maybe a farm just down the highway from me sent this cowhide, freshly cleaned, to someone who specializes in leather production. This particular example is located in Boone, Iowa — a fairly small town five hours from south-central Nebraska. Once the hide gets to this small shop, it goes through the following broad steps: tanning, retanning, and finishing. Now, each of these broad steps has several tactical steps within them that each employee of this leather manufacturing shop focuses on every single day of their waking adult lives. If one of the above steps does not happen, I don’t get my gloves!

What’s the Big Deal?

Needless to say, this idea has made me think of life from a much different point of view than that of the average American. In turn, this type of thought process has given me a more positive attitude toward everything. It is also apparent that this way of life allows for a more empathetic personality – it gave me a new appreciation for everything I have – I am confident that this will provide you optimism and appreciation as well.

Have you ever tried thinking this way? Try it! Share your insights in the Comments section below. Also, get your friends thinking by sharing this on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn. Thanks for reading – fill out the contact form for occasional insights directly into your inbox!

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