This I Believe Challenge
This I Believe Challenge avatar

Anthony Rivera, PSY. DWillow Wisdom


It is that time of year when we are struggling to keep our New Year’s Resolutions and might be ready to go back to the old and easier ways of doing things. Whether you are going strong on those resolutions or decided not to make any at all, I challenge you to take some time this new year to consider what it is you truly believe in.

Self-reflection is a powerful tool for growth and healing. Writing your own statement of personal belief can be a great way to start a journal or just to get in touch with you. I wrote my first This I Believe Statement in graduate school. My professor got this idea from an NPR episode and he was one of my favorite teachers I ever had. He had the knack for helping his students use their personal instincts to find wisdom, growth, healing, and fulfillment within themselves. To complete the assignment he then asked us to read our statements in front of the entire class as we visited Ben and Jerry’s. Quick side note. I just realized I strongly believe I need to eat more Ben and Jerry’s this year. As I look back on what I wrote about back then, I realized it was time to update my statement. In a few weeks I will post my original statement and my updated one. First, I want to challenge you to write your own and share it if you wish. Perhaps do this as a family and then read them to each other. Below are some suggestions we were given to help get us started.

Tell a story about you: Be specific. ​Take your belief out of the ether and ground it in the events that have shaped your core values. Consider moments when belief was formed or tested or changed. Think of your own experience, work, and family, and tell of the things you know that no one else does. Your story need not be heart-warming or gut-wrenching—it can even be funny—but it should be real. Make sure your story ties to the essence of your daily life philosophy and the shaping of your beliefs.

Be brief:​ Your statement should be between 500 and 600 words. That’s about three minutes when read aloud at your natural pace.

Name your belief: ​If you can’t name it in a sentence or two, your essay might not be about belief. Also, rather than writing a list, consider focusing on one core belief.

Be positive:​ Write about what you do believe, not what you don’t believe. Avoid statements of religious dogma, preaching, or editorializing.

Be personal:​ Make your essay about you; speak in the first person. Avoid speaking in the editorial “we.” Tell a story from your own life; this is not an opinion piece about social ideals. Write in words and phrases that are comfortable for you to speak. We recommend you read your essay aloud to yourself several times, and each time edit it and simplify it until you find the words, tone, and story that truly echo your belief and the way you speak.

Have fun with this and stay tuned for my statements in a few weeks!