Life & Lifestyle

Taking an Ordinary Day & Making It Extraordinary

Imagine waking up and doing something you have never done before… every single day. You could experiment with a new recipe, explore a different place, walk on a new trail, meet new people, or quietly read a new novel. This is a deliberate practice I developed called Do Something New™. This is the story of how and why I created it, and how it increased my resilience and capacity to live a life full of joy and compassion.

In 2008, I became ill with a bronchial infection while serving as the Director of the Dallas Museum of Art. I absolutely loved my work with the arts and the Dallas community. Frequently under medical care and constantly working, I never paused to focus on healing myself. It became difficult to travel and to be around large groups of people, which was a key component of my work.

Eventually, I recognized that it was time to leave the position I cherished to focus on my health.

The day I started my practice, I had just left the doctor’s office – it was July 8, 2011. The doctor informed me that a recent biopsy report had shown that the infection was growing in my lungs. Leaving his office, I started thinking, “I need to reconfigure my life,” and rather than focus on being ill, I wanted to celebrate being alive. After a nap that afternoon, I awoke and wrote the Do Something New™ practice. It challenges me to take an ordinary day and make it extraordinary through intention.

Blue Ice CreamOver the past eight years, my daily choice has been to engage fully with the world around me. Each day has been a journey doing one to five new experiences every day. It has brought me many new experiences, friends, new places, and many new flavors of ice cream!

Importantly, over the past years, the Do Something New™ practice has provided a daily focus that keeps me challenged, creative, engaged, and excited in mind, body, and spirit.

I decided to do this for a month or so, but here I am, roughly 3,000 days later, continuing to write, photograph, and post my new experiences. Documenting helps me stay on track and reminds me of the joyous life I live as I scroll through past posts and reminisce.

TileStepsDo Something New™ has been life changing. Now I challenge each of you to develop a practice of your own. It doesn’t have to be every day – it can be once a week or once a month. Each day is full of new experiences. What you see, how you see it, and your perception of the situation is what truly opens your eyes and heart.

Tag me on Instagram @bonniepitman or Facebook if you start a practice and be sure to use #dosomethingnew. I look forward to reading your stories!

Smell the flowers on a hectic dayIf you would like to learn more and participate in a workshop, we will be offering one in the spring. Check or send me a message!


Bonnie Pitman

Ms. Bonnie Pitman is the Director Art-Brain Innovations, Center for BrainHealth® and a Distinguished Scholar for the Edith O’Donnell Institute of Art History, The University of Dallas at Texas. Pitman was the former Eugene McDermott Director for The Dallas Museum of Art. As Director of Art-Brain Innovations at the UT Dallas Center for BrainHealth®, Pitman expands her research and teaching of the power of observation and her “Do Something New” Practice to foster brain health. These initiatives connect neurological research and foster brain health with the process of seeing, looking, and observing, and experiencing life with innovation and resilience.

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