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What Did You Really See?

Young people will learn that our minds shape our memories and that knowing that can help us be more resilient and thrive.

Ages

9-14 Years Old

Duration

30 Minutes

What You Need

Resources

Healthy Families Newsletter

English (pdf)

Spanish (pdf)

To find out how this lesson fits Physical Education and Health Education standards click here.

Lesson Overview

This lesson helps young people understand that the way they see things isn’t necessary the “truth” about the way they are. The youth will experience the impact a positive mindset can have, practice noticing subtle differences and cultivating an optimistic perspective.

Instructor Notes

Before facilitating this lesson, you may want to review the following information. This can be shared with young people during your discussions.

There is a lot of pressure these days on young people, teachers and others to “do and be their best.” Yet many of the things we do to try to accomplish this or help others accomplish it actually work against us. Mindset, the way we see things, plays a huge role in this.

People who thrive, rather than just survive, tend to have positive mindsets. They see the learning in difficult situations, they see the benefit that comes from hardship, and they see themselves and others as having what’s needed to be their best.

We can actually learn to think this way even if it doesn’t feel totally natural right now.

Consider this: Why is it that two people can see the same movie and describe it totally differently? Or what about when we watch the same movie more than once: Why do we notice different things each time? The truth is that our minds shape our experiences, our memories, and we can learn to influence our minds to see things differently.

Introduction

Show the Mental Remix video from  ChangeToChill.org by Allina Health.

Explain to the youth that our “success” in life, however we define it, depends a lot on our attitude and how we see things.

Ask: Why is it that two people can see the same movie and describe it totally differently? Or what about when we watch the same movie more than once: Why do we notice different things each time?

Give time for discussion of the questions. Then explain that our minds shape our experiences, our memories, and we can learn to influence our minds to see things differently.

Activity: What’s Changed?

Let the youth know that you are going to do an activity that highlights the idea that how we see things is shaped by what we’re looking for and what we focus on. Don’t tell them more than that. Then give them the following instructions:

Round one (there are three total)

  1. Pair young people each with a partner.
  2. First, tell them to stand facing their partner and simply observe.
  3. Then ask pairs to stand back-to-back a couple feet away from each other. They are not to look at their partners.
  4. Ask each young person to change three things about their physical appearance, without their partner knowing what the changes are. If they need a little help with ideas suggest removing items of jewelry and/or clothing such as a shoe, rolling up a sleeve, changing something about their hair, and so on.
  5. After everyone has made the changes, ask the young people to face their partner again and each take a turn at trying to identify the things that have changed. Some will be able to identify the three changes in their partner’s appearance; some will not, that’s OK.
  6. Ask, “Who found all three?” “Who found two of the three?” etc.

Round two

Without changing the first three things back to the way they were, repeat round one. It may be harder this time for them to think of things to change. Encourage them to be creative.

Round three

Repeat the exercise again a third time and then talk about these questions:

  • What was it like doing this activity? How did you feel? What were you thinking about?
  • Was it easy or hard to think of things to change? Why?
  • Was it easy or hard to figure out what changes your partner made? Why?
  • Did you start looking at your partner differently after I told you to make changes? Why do you think that was?
  • (Young people may say things like that they looked more closely at details; they noticed different things, they tried to remember what the person “looked” like before and couldn’t).

Make the point that how we see something changes based on what we’re looking for, where are minds our focused, what our goal or task is. This is true for life as well as in the exercise.

Activity: Changing Perspective

  1. Ask the young people if they have examples of situations they could look at differently simply by changing their perspective or changing what they are looking for. Examples could include doing poorly on a test, something that happened in a sporting event, or a situation with a friend.
  2. Encourage young people to share examples and give a least two different perspectives, such as looking at a bad test score as having messed up or as a great lesson in needing to study more.
  3. After the conversation ask them to each write about a time when they saw something as negative but looking back on it could have been seen as more positive.

Conclusion

Remind young people that our minds shape our memories and that knowing that can help us be more resilient and thrive. Present this challenge: Next time you are confronted with a potentially negative situation, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is the situation really as bad as I think?
  • Is there another way to look at the situation?
  • What can I learn from this experience that I can use in the future?

Continuing the Conversation

Hand out the Healthy Families Newsletter in English or Spanish, which also includes these tips, so that families can practice seeing situations from different perspectives at home.

Additional Instructor Resources

Change To Chill by Allina Health

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