Wednesday, April 7, 2010


"The experience of surprise is a sign of one’s readiness to grow. Amazement and wonder signify that one’s concepts of self and of the world and of other people are ready to be re-formed. When we can be dumbfounded at which comes out of us or what others are capable of disclosing, we are growing persons."
Sidney Jourard


  1. I wished he was right, but this seems an optical illusion to me. A dumbfounded person meets the potential of growth, and a growing person is much more aware than one which doesn't grow anymore. But if a person is surprised, unfortunatly we are not necessarily in front of a growing person.

    Yet my mother comes to my mind. She was still growing from time to time at a very high age. In front of something unexpected she showed a funny expression of deep surprise which became a question mark while her eyes were searching for a solution. This expression of puzzling disorientation can be seen as a sign of growth, o.k. And I know another person as well who is just to blind to be ever surprised, and he would even in front of a blatantly new experience try to push this experience into one of his old categories.

    I think Sidney Jourard's consideration can tell us something about the extremes: someone who is never surprised isn't growing anymore, and someone deeply surprised probably is still growing even at a high age. But between the two points there is a large zone were surprise just means that someone is surprised and nothing more.

  2. I tend to agree with Jourard's statement. After all, allowing oneself to be surprised, amazed, and dumbfounded indicates a certain degree of open-mindedness. It is the starting point for a growth experience.

    Perhaps it means only planting a seed - an inspiration for bigger changes to come in the future. Perhaps we need many of such "ah-ha!" moments before we are ready to give up our old ideas.

  3. Remember people with an open face of astonishing. How beautiful! Remember the open mouth and eyes of a child when you have been talking about something new. We like talking to people with this reaction. They hereby get new information and get growing. It ist he smiling.

  4. Oh yes, it is so wonderful to see the expression of surprise, especially in a person which loves to be surprised and confuted by surprise.

    This theme brings us back to the theme of how remaining children. Childlike openmindedness again is the opposite of childish aging.

    Giacomo Casanova once said: "What is love if not a very particular way of being curious!" In this sentence the word "curious" can be considered in both senses.

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