It’s How You Choose To Look At Your Life

I saw a meme recently. It said something to the effect of, “Nothing makes you clean your house like a friend calling and saying he’ll be over in 10 minutes.” Lee and I are hosting our growth group on Wednesday night, and we’ve been in full cleaning mode since the workday ended.

Normally, this would be a gripe session about an aching back, tired muscles, and dry, cracked hands. But before I started cleaning, I took my wife’s advice by grabbing my mp3 player and listening to a sermon from Elevation Church. Now, I know it may sound strange to fill my time by listening to someone preach, but if you’ve never heard Steven Furtick preach, you’re missing out. This sermon, however, was delivered by Steven’s wife Holly, and it helped me remember to keep things in perspective.

Instead of being pissed about how dirty the grout gets, I should be thankful for the tile floors that decorate the house. Instead of getting furious at the cats that shed all over the place and leave nice, regurgitated ‘presents’ on my lanai, I should be thankful for the companionship they provide and the calm, soothing effect they have on my wife (she’ll be the first to tell you there is no better therapist than those with claws). Instead of fretting about having the house look perfect, I should be focused on the opportunity to invite my friends over and share in continued fellowship with them.

My favorite band Sister Hazel has a song called Change Your Mind. Before he performs it, lead singer Ken Block reminds the crowd that, “It’s not your life. It’s how you choose to look at your life.” All you have to do is change your mind.

So when you’re feeling stressed, change your mind. When you think you can’t, change your mind. When you feel alone, remember that He is always there for you. You just need to change the way you’re looking at your situation.

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”Philippians 4:8 

It’s Just a List

I thought I had some semblance of direction about what I wanted to write for this entry. I don’t have a bucket list, per se’, so I was going to write about the Be, Do, Have items we outlined when I was in the Change Your Mind workshop in August. This is basically a road map of what I want to be, what I want to do, and the things I want to have in life. It’s also the cornerstone activity for creating a vision board for myself. It’s a great exercise, but the more I thought about it, the more I managed to break it down from the tangible to the abstract. At the end of the day, I really want to Be good, Do good, and Have time and resources to do so. Long story short, this blog entry took a wrong turn in Albuquerque.

It’s seems the more I think about bucket lists and the whole concept of things I want to do or accomplish before I die, the more intimidating and overwhelming it becomes. What would be at the top of the list? Is there anything I wouldn’t do? Why put something on the list I know can never possibly happen (go to the moon)? Goals are great but a bucket list is not for goals (or is it?). See what I mean? I’m just confusing myself.

So I thought I’d approach it from a different perspective. Looking back to when I was a kid, have I done or accomplished the things that would have been on the list penned by the thirteen year old version of me? Let’s see:

  • Become an fighter pilot >>>> NOPE
  • Become an airline pilot >>>> NOPE
  • Play quarterback for the Miami Dolphins >>>> NOPE
  • Become a Wall Street big wig >>>> NOPE
  • Marry Justine Bateman (hey, don’t judge) >>>> NOPE

Wow. Nothing. Not even close. I look at this and wonder what pre-pubescent Gil would think or say. Would he be disappointed? Probably. Looking at my life now, am I happy? Most definitely. Given that information, do bucket lists really mean anything? Maybe not.

So I’ve come to the conclusion that bucket list is just another way of saying, “Dream Big!” It’s permission to envision yourself doing things you’d probably never otherwise consider. In its own way, a bucket list is not unlike a vision board. It’s a future event we so diligently want to make true. Still, life is what happens in between making plans and dreams, and the measure of greatness is not how many items you check off your list, but rather how well you adapt when life gets in the way.

This brings us back full circle to Change Your Mind. We are completely in control of how we choose to view the circumstances and setbacks in our lives. What’s important now may not be important thirty years from now. What we plan and aspire to do now may not be possible because of a higher calling we may not hear until later. It’s perfectly okay to dream big. Just remind yourself that it’s also perfectly okay to dream anew down the road. It’s all part of what makes life so fun and interesting.

I have to admit this entry was influenced by the fact Ken and Tracy Block and the team at 4th Street Training are in St. Pete Beach this week hosting a CYM Workshop. That being said, I hope you enjoy the video below.

Change Your Mind

It’s not your life … it’s how you choose to look at your life.

It’s pretty amazing what a little change in perspective can do. It’s really amazing what the power of thought can do. These are principles I’ve known for quite some time now, but it was only until recently that I had the opportunity to truly study them and learn to use them in my day to day life.

I’ve been a fan of the band Sister Hazel for quite some time now, and I make no secret about how their music and the community of Sister Hazel fans – affectionately known as Hazelnuts – have had such an incredible influence in my life. One of Sister Hazel’s songs in particular that has been an inspirational beacon to not only myself but to so many others is ‘Change Your Mind’. It’s a song about perspective. It’s a song about point of view. It’s a song about letting go of all the noise that tends to make blurry our priorities and finding clarity in the simplicity of taking a new and different look at our lives.

“Did you ever think there might be another way to just feel better, just feel better about today?”

Over the course of the last several years, Sister Hazel frontman Ken Block, in collaboration with his wife Tracy and his friends at 4th Street Training, Dave Neal and Ray White, has developed a workshop for personal betterment that is centered on the principles of ‘Change Your Mind’. I recently had the privilege of participating in the pilot program for this workshop, and to say it was life-changing would be an understatement.

I’ve always considered myself a very fortunate individual with a personal history void of major hurdles, trauma and catastrophic events. I am very blessed and my life, for the most part, has always been in what I would consider a good place. I did not go into the workshop feeling lost or confused or seeking some higher form of enlightenment. Quite the contrary. I was bursting with excitement and anticipation knowing how much the song has meant to me and so many others, and eager to see how the workshop would be built around the concept of positive thinking. To put it simply, my expectations were met and exceeded, and the whole experience was so positively overwhelming.

From the beginning, the workshop was an exploration into my priorities and core values; understanding what is truly important to me and how I can incorporate those values into my life journey. It was an exercise in aligning my goals and dreams with these core values, and making sure my thoughts and actions support both the short and long term vision of who I want to be and what I set out to accomplish. The workshop showed us how to dream big and then create a plan to realize these dreams. It was eye-opening, thought provoking and, most importantly, inspiring.

It was also very rewarding in many different levels. Having had the privilege of knowing Ken Block for several years, it was very cool to be able to see and appreciate the person he was during the workshop. Ken is well known for being an open, humble and approachable musician. I imagine whatever ego he has is something he displays behind closed doors. Still, during the workshop we got to see Ken Block, the man with the Master’s degree in counseling and the person who lives with a spirit of giving back and doing positive things for others. He was still his fun-loving and jovial self, but it was great to see him be also very deep and passionate as he addressed the group. Pair this with the focus and energy from his wife Tracy, the superb presentation and group management skills of Ray White, and the excellent ‘behind-the-scenes’ work of David Neal and Danny Thomas, the Change Your Mind workshop was an experience like no other.

The best part of CYM is that it does not stop once the workshop is over. The program is designed to be ongoing, with the community of CYM participants working together to support each other’s visions, and to continually make better the program as it grows and evolves over time. Whether you feel stuck in a rut or that life is good and on cruise control, the CYM workshop has something for everyone. It is a program I highly recommend. If you’re unsure about looking into the workshop, just remember that changing your life is as simple as changing your mind.

Please follow these links for more information on Sister Hazel, Ken Block (Facebook), 4th Street Training and the Change Your Mind workshop. You can find the CYM workshop on Twitter at @CYMProject