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The Google Button Changed My Day

Exploring the power of moments and the art of creating them

This is getting harder. I typically lead with the silver lining but frankly, like most of you, I have been inside since March 13th. The days are blurring into weeks and the weeks into months and though I have been through hard times before, there is something uniquely groundhogs day about waking up and starting over day in and day out right now.

This a global pandemic has taken a toll in many ways. As many have lost loved ones, whole industries have disappeared and mental health is being deeply challenged. I hold the collective grief of the world in one hand and look out the kitchen window merely able to articulate my very singular point of view.

I fall in the "high risk" category so my loved ones have been working hard to honor the strictest regulations to support my wellbeing. I am thankful. I also don't have children of my own so I don't know what it is to balance working from home with raising a family in this 24-7 whirlwind. So, humbly I say...I don't have much to complain about and yet, this still feels hard.

Wake up, pick breakfast, ZOOM, ZOOM,ZOOM, ZOOM, pick dinner, watch a show, go to sleep, repeat.

I miss special moments. The unexpected kinds of moments created by surprise. The casual conversations that unearth learning on the subway, the stranger who bought the other stranger a coffee in line, the time the sky opened up and poured rain on Times Square and everyone scattered all different directions.

Where have all the surprises gone?

Then, amidst the flurry of Zooms a confidante said, "Staci-- go to Google." I rolled my eyes, as I do in the moments I am not always proud of later, and I said "why"? I probably use Google 10-20 times a day to answer every question I have.

Google- what is my IP address?

Google- what is the origin of pancakes?

Google- how do you turn silver jewelry back to silver?

Reliable every single time. I wouldn't use the word surprising to describe Google. It is in every way reliable, predictable, and consistent. I wouldn't have it any other way.

And.... it turns out there was a button I have been missing, (I still need to google how long it has been there) but there it was sitting right next to the search. "I'm feeling curious," it of course, I pressed it.

Then, the purpose of the sensory nerve appeared. Bold as day. Now, I can't say I ever cared about this before but in this moment I felt this flash of sudden delight, the pleasant and familiar feeling of surprise.

I was still sitting at my computer, not much had changed and still, in this moment I relished in an unplanned and impromptu aha-- Sensory neurons are nerve cells within the nervous system responsible for converting external stimuli from the organism's environment into internal electrical impulses. For example, some sensory neurons respond to tactile stimuli and can activate motor neurons in order to achieve muscle contraction.

Fascinated with my newly acquired nugget, I raced back and pressed again! feeling lucky it said? yes, yes I am. Before I knew it I was chuckling with myself. Silly Google you caught me off guard and I like it!

But why? how did this inconspicuous google button manage to bring delight? I thought back to the book I read on an airplane a few years ago. The Power of Moments by Chip and Dan Heath explored the lasting impact of moments in our lives powered by elevation, insight, pride, and connection. I remember that the things that truly stand out to us are usually the ones we didn't see coming.

For better or worse we remember the blaringly special, overtly bad, or last things that happen..while the rest of our experiences fade away completely.

In the book, they explained the lasting impact of surprising moments through an anecdote about the Magic Castle Hotel in Florida where the amenities hardly compared to the luxury hotels surrounding it, but whose TripAdvisor ratings were off the chart.

How? I wondered and then found out that they had a phone by the pool where you could pick it up and soon be delivered an ice-cold popsicle by a server well dressed and wearing white gloves. How special you would feel each time!

In this, case the "popsicle hotline", like the unexpected google button interrupts the cycle of expected action. Google broke the script.

I thought to myself,

Even in a pandemic, this little surprise from Google reminded me that it is still possible to engineer special and memorable moments. Like, the Heaths said, "Once you realize how important moments can be, it's easier to spot opportunities to shape them".

Do we have to wait for the world to reopen? Nah, if Google can do can we.

So where might we start?

We have the power to take ordinary moments and transform them for ourselves and others, at home and at work.

At Home:

  • Surprise the family with breakfast for dinner.

  • Send a friend a gift you know they have been wanting, they will never see it coming.

  • Go to Spotify's "Made for You Playlist" and relish in how well it knows you.

  • Call a restaurant you have never been to and ask them to deliver "the usual"

  • Pick a big goal that you have been meaning to tackle and celebrate the moment you accomplish it!

  • Take a walk around the neighborhood and find your way home (the only rule is you turn the opposite way you usually go each time) Get lost, you might find things you never saw before.

At Work:

  • Sign up for Lunch Club and meet someone new on your lunch break.

  • If you manage folk, schedule a Friday staff meeting and cancel it abruptly noting that everyone should enjoy a long weekend.

  • Send an appreciation e-mail to a co-worker shouting out their hard work on a Sunday night so that it is top of the inbox Monday morning.

  • Plan a pets and friends virtual hangout where you and your colleagues can introduce each other to the people and furry friends you share your workspace with.

If you have made ordinary moments into the kinds we remember I would love to hear about them. Please comment below any examples or recommendations for engineering elevation, insight, pride, and connection at home or at work.

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