Lesson: A Personal Change Story

I want to learn to forgive my mother. -high school student, Florida USA
Read this student's personal change story here.

Susan Michael Barrett and Terry Barrett

Lesson Idea: Personal change is a way to gain insight and wisdom to live a better life, that sharing our personal changes lifts others' spirits, and that listening to others' changes can inspire us to be contributors to the world.
What I want the learners to learn:
That using our breath is a way to still, calm and become aware of the present moment.
That one’s personal history already shows evidence of being able to change and grow.
That sharing one’s personal change lifts others’ spirits higher.
That listening to the changes others have made can inspire us to be contributors to the world.

To breathe to still, calm, and focus
To be self-aware
To be self-reflective
To be empathetic listeners
To creatively express a personal change
I am capable of stilling my body and mind using my breath.
I am able to connect with my basic goodness.
I am capable of making personal changes in my life.
I am able to inspire others by how I live.
I am able to learn from others personal changes.
I am able to express my positive change.


Meditation is a formal way of practicing mindfulness or being aware of the present moment.

Before we write our personal change stories, let's take a few minutes to chill out. 

How to access this chill out space is to bring into your mind the idea of a long school day. One with tests and nonstop activity, feeling exhausted, maybe feeling uptight. And then, imagine you fall into your favorite comfy chair at home. So before we being, tighten your fists and hold it for 10 seconds, and then breathe out with a big sigh as you imagine falling into that chair. (Do this a couple times.)

Now, take a few minutes to meditate. 

Let's take a reasonable seated posture. Sit in your chair with your back up and down. Chin slightly tucked. Chest open and relaxed. Notice your breath. Say silently to yourself, "I am breathing in" as you inhale and "I am breathing out," as you exhale. Or say, in - out. Count to 10 breaths and begin again. 


Self-reflection is a way to see what is meaningful. 

Quietly think of responses to these questions. Read a question out loud and then pause to give time for silent wondering. (Some of these questions are from Alexandra Franzen.)

What’s one thing you’re deeply proud of—but wouldn’t share publicly?

If a mysterious benefactor wrote you a check for $5,000 and said, “Help me solve a problem, any problem!” what would you choose to do?

What’s the most out-of-character choice you’ve made?

What personal positive growth can come from one of your secrets?

What are you freakishly good at?

What's the best compliment you've ever received?

What’s your most urgent priority for yourself right now?

What was the last time you astonished yourself: what did you think, say or do?

What's one behavior you keep repeating and repeating but would like to change?

What was the most agonizing moment in your life? What did you learn from it?

Who is on your panel of imaginary mentors and what are they encouraging you about?

What habits or quirks do you wish you could erase?

What new habits do you want to create?

Have you ever gotten yourself out of a rut? How did you do it?

What brings you sheer delight?

What would you like to set into motion, today?

Write your personal positive change story by answering the question.

Anonymity allows for honest, vulnerable submissions, and encouraged for middle and high school submissions.

1. What personal change did you make or would you like to make... 

(in your thinking, in your beliefs, in your behavior, in your actions, in the way you speak to yourself or others, or in the way you relate to others?)

Write a few sentences or no more than 500 words. (Sometimes these prompts help.)

The personal change I made is.... I did it by....


The personal change I want to make is.... I will do it by....

2. If you choose, include an image with your writing--a self-portrait, a drawing, a photograph you've taken, or a sentence or phrase from your writing.

3. Place a large envelope on a table so students can anonymously submit their changes. (If they make drawings, include clips or a stapler next to the envelope.)
  • Mail: Wonder Anew, 179 Pineneedle Drive, Bradenton, FL 34210  
  • Email: wonderanewproject@gmail.com. 
Submitting stories to Wonder Anew grants permission for them to be published.

4. View the Wonder Anew website and see others' personal positive changes


Interested in bringing mindfulness to your school? 

"Mindfulness builds a foundation for attention and concentration, empathy and compassion, and academic and emotional strengths." - Sarah Rudell Beach

Sarah Rudell Beach, M.Ed, founder and director of Brilliant Mindfulness LLC, teaches mindfulness education and professional development programs. She offers programs and online courses to teachers and students. Sarah has been trained in the Mindfulness Schools Curriculum, as well as Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction. She has 17 years of teaching experience and has taught mindfulness to children, teens, and adults. She also writes about mindfulness, education, and healthy living for the Huffington Post.

Meditation Resources

Mindfulness Resources for Teens

Insight Timer
A worldwide meditation community. Free guided meditations by a variety of teachers and a timer. Insight Timer's Facebook page here.

A Handful of Quiet by Thich Nhat Hanh

Here's a Start on How to Meditate, a free PDF Booklet by Tara Brach for people who are new to meditation 

How to Meditate by Pema Chödrön

Meditation: Getting Started by Jon Kabat-Zinn

20 Tips to Quiet the Minda blog post by Leo Babauta