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#10. The Power of Awe, Art and Observation: Bonnie Pitman
Episode 1011th February 2020 • Rise Leaders Radio • LeeAnn Mallory
00:00:00 00:44:52

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Bonnie Pitman shares how Doing Something New inspires us to make each day extraordinary. Her Power of Observation Framework instructs us on the critical steps for moving from the first glance to making new meaning of our observations. She is both delightful and incredibly grounded in her approach to appreciating the banal and sublime.


Discovery consists of seeing what everybody has seen and thinking what nobody has thought.

Albert Szen-Gyorgi

1937 Nobel Laureate


Make Everyday Extraordinary

Awe and wonder are getting a lot of attention these days because of what happens in our brain when we’re in these states of mind. Inspiration and generosity spike and we feel more connected to the world around us. And as a result, stress and rumination decrease*. Overall wellbeing is amplified. The great news is that we can experience awe and wonder as part of our daily life – we just have to become more aware of what is already in our midst.

Bonnie Pitman, with her long and distinguished history in the world of art, developed two foundational practices that support the onboarding of these states in response to a life-changing illness that she continues to navigate.  

*Source:  What Awe Looks Like in Your Brain (

Stand-out Quotes from My Interview With Bonnie

[14:04]“Do Something New is about having the courage to take a moment and really celebrate it. And finding a way … to move beyond simply seeing and looking to really deep observation, or deep listening. It’s about going further than I normally would.” 

[16:06] “I’ve discovered that one of the really important things, which we’ve been talking about, comes from my meditation practice: the power of staying in the moment and just seeing things in new ways, or seeing the world in new ways. To slow down and really invest in those moments and to – just like when you’re meditating – focus on your breathing, focus on the people or the place”

[22:33] “…80% of the way you acquire information is through visual images. Particularly important for physicians is that ability to see if a patient over the days that they are seeing them in the hospital, or in their clinics is evolving in a positive way, or a negative way. That need to be able to look quickly and observe quickly and get solid information, to be able to remember it is something that’s very important for them.”

[ 25:56 ] “Those tangible, experiential moments transform a two-dimensional experience into memory in your brain. Now your hippocampus – your whole limbic system – is working in a different way and at a higher level to codify this memory as one you’re going to hold on to.”

The Do Something New™ practice

Take a few minutes of an ordinary day and make it extraordinary through:

  1. New places
  2. New people
  3. New experiences
  4. New experiences with old friends in new ways
  5. New big things & new little things
  6. New flavors of ice cream are ok!
  7. Cannot be work or medical
  8. Cannot carry forward to the next day

The Power of Observation Framework™

Scanning – Taking a first look

Attending – Focusing intentionally over time

Connecting – Seeking and processing information to make new connections

Transforming – Engaging deeply and creating a personal response

Note: Download the full Power of Observation Framework here

More Links


Bonnie Pitman Instagram:

DMA – Speechless: Different by Design:

What Awe Looks Like in Your Brain – Greater Good Magazine:

Videos: Art and Medicine:

Nasher Sculpture Center talks on Art and Health:

Can You Train Your Brain to Work Better? Verify – WFAA:

Be Well Lead Well® Pulse Assessment:

Rise Leaders newsletter: