How to set the pace for a perfect day in 5 minutes or less

About 2 years ago, I became aware of various mindfulness practices that help me stay grounded in the present. Prior to this, I was constantly revisiting my past and quite fearful of the future. One of the practices that helped me to live in the present is setting aside time each morning to decide how I am going to “show-up” or present myself to the world each day. I’d like to share this practice with you…..

  1. At the start of each day, take a few minutes to sit in silence and decide how you are going to “show up” to this world today.
  2. Write decision, in your own writing, somewhere where you can see it throughout the day.
  3. Align your actions with your declaration.

Let me break this down for you:

Yes, you heard me correctly. You’ve got to decide how you are going to “show up” in this world. You must decide who you are going to be and what you are going to do. Also, this must be decided daily. If you fail to set the pace for your day, other factors, such as life, circumstances, and other people, will dictate the way that your life is experienced. I don’t know about you, but I’m not willing to leave that up to chance.

There are two ways that life can be lived, proactively or reactively. When you live life from a proactive stance, you are making a choice to step up to the plate and call the shots on how your life is experienced.

On the other hand, a life lived reactively gives the experiences of life up to fate. At times, life will seem grand. However, there is great chance that you will also experience a lot of suckage too. It is a life where you don’t know what to expect or how to respond at any given time. This is a perfect breeding ground for frustration….. I don’t know about you, but I hate being frustrated

When you decide how you are going to “show-up” to the world you are making a declaration to take a stance and live life from that declaration. For example: I frequently decide that I am going to “show up” as “a man who brings joys to others.”  As I make this declaration, I then align all my actions to match it. I become mindful that my goal is to bring joy, so I choose to smile, I choose to laugh, I choose to pay people compliments. My mission throughout the day is to make others smile and enjoy life too. Lately, I’ve been working on being a better husband. My daily declaration has been, “Today I stand before God and all his creation as a man who is willing to love his wife as she needs to be loved.” In making this declaration, I become mindful to love my wife as she needs to be loved (not as how I haphazardly attempt to love her). I know that she values time spent together, so I spend time with her. I know that she likes when I help with the upkeep of the house, so I help her with it. I know that she loves to talk to me, so I listen to her. At the end of the day, my experience with my wife is amazing. She’s happy, I’m happy. However, if I chose to live that day reactively it may involve me sitting on the couch surfing the tube, meanwhile my wife sits in the other room frustrated. She may try to speak to me, but I’m more interested in the show, and by the time we are ready to sleep she may give me the cold shoulder and say something snarky about how my day went, which may frustrate me and cause me to struggle to fall asleep….. With that said, I’m not willing to exchange a fulfilled marriage for the unknown.

But what if I don’t feel like it?

You will never feel your way or think your way into fulfillment. You are not your thoughts, and you are not your feelings. Your thoughts will wander to various places throughout the day. Your feeling may try to lead you on another path. You might decide to “show-up” as “A person who is willing to lead a healthy lifestyle.” Yet, five minutes into your day you start thinking about Krispy-Kreme donuts. Let me remind you……. You are not your thoughts!!!! However, you are your actions….. I believe that is where the power of the pen comes in. When you write down your declaration and review it throughout your day, you remind yourself of what you are committed to being.

Why Daily?

Your goals change daily. Currently I’m working on being a better husband. Last week I was working on showing up as a man who is willing to not be swayed by the opinions of others. I’m also at a place where I have a couple of ongoing declarations that I’m working on, and I add one that is specific to the day that I am living out. You will find what works best for you.

There is no reason for us to live an unfulfilled life. It is my hope and prayer that your declarations will help you to live the life that you desire

 

Godspeed,

 

John

 

 

Photo credit: Cindee Snider Re via Foter.com / CC BY-NC

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3 power-statements to help you take control of your life

Only you are responsible for the life you live. What are you doing about it?

 

Hey there friends!

I’d like to share a quick recap of the three power-statements that I shared with you on this video.

  •  I am unwilling to allow my present and past circumstances to become permanent conditions.

You are not obligated to repeat your past. Let this power-statement be more than a declaration. Turn it into a lifestyle. Make your choices match your words and step into newness of life.

  • I am unwilling to allow anything or anyone to keep me from   (fill in the blank)     .

What do you desire out of life? Is it happiness? Fulfillment? Purpose? A career? What ever your dream might be, protect that dream with all that you are, and all that you hope to be. Use this power-statement as a declaration that you have set your goal, and nothing under the sun, will keep you from reaching it.

  • I am unwilling to settle for being anything other than my best.

Make a declaration that you are committed to show up as the very best “version of you” every day, for the rest of your life. There is no need to settle for mediocre when you have the ability to live out loud and be 100% you.

*quick reminder*  It is your responsibility to take control of your future. Nobody else can steer your life in the direction that you desire, but you. Rise to the occasion! Be your own hero today.

Godspeed,

John Garay

 

 

Photo credit: Foter.com

How to create a positive and uplifting Facebook feed without unfriending everybody

Is your Facebook news feed depressing? Maybe its time to spruce it up.

I hate to brag (*wink-wink)…. But I probably have the most positive, and uplifting, Facebook-news-feed on the planet. However, this wasn’t always the case.

Last year I became quite disillusioned with my news feed. I found myself caught in a crossfire of Hillary and Trump guerrillas claiming to be experts of national and international affairs. I witnessed one logical fallacy (please click on the link) after another launched off just like missiles in time of war. The lack of respect and intelligence on this platform absolutely floored me. For a moment, I developed acute disdain for my ethics professor who taught me strict guidelines for having an intelligent argument.

In addition, I had friended a lovely elderly lady that was a charm to talk to. She seemed so sweet, godly and innocent. I couldn’t help but add her to my list of Facebook friends. Little did I know that she was fixated on making daily posts of nude cowboys wearing nothing but cowboy hats over their nether regions (EEEEWWWW!) ……Then there was that family member that has been angry at the world since birth. Honestly, I can tolerate having a “woe is me” conversation every few years at a family get-together. But, seeing that junk everyday was sinking me into a depression right along with that person….. It was inevitable something had to change!

Thankfully, I’ve since learned how to tailor my news feed. My news feed, now, provides me with inspirational and uplifting content 24/7.….. and if anything negative dares  to resurface, I know how to nip it in the bud. With that in mind, I’d like to leave you with some tips to help you do the same.

  1. Follow Pages with content that inspires you

What puts you in a good mood? What feeds your soul? Make a list of what you would like to see, and then follow pages that carry that type of content. Personally, I’m a visual person. I enjoy and get energy when I see positive quotes that are set on an artistic backgrounds. I currently follow several authors, faith leaders, leadership gurus, mindfulness practitioners, and musicians.

2. Adjust your settings

To follow a page you must first “Like” the page.

(I’m going to be using Bob Goff as an example. He’s one of my favorite people to follow. If you haven’t done so already, make sure to check out his book “Love Does”. It is one of my favorite books ever!)

  • Do you see that little “Like” icon? Click on it

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  • Once you click on it you will see both “Like” and “Follow” highlighted in blue.

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  • Click on “Following

You will notice that your notifications are automatically set to “default”.

The “default” setting will not include every post from this page in your news feed.

If you would like this page’s posts to be the first thing that you see in your news feed click on “See first”.

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If the page ends up being something you’d rather not see, click on “unfollow” (I’ve been known to regret making the choice to follow some pages in the past. The “unfollow” button came in handy when I realized my error.)

Click on “Edit Notification Settings” to adjust how you are notified…. For example: I absolutely enjoy what Bob Goff has to say. I purposely selected “All posts” to make sure that I don’t miss out on anything that he publishes on his timeline. If you don’t select “All posts,” Facebook will randomly select which posts you see and which ones you don’t. Personally, I don’t want to see every “Live” video posted, so I only have the “Suggested” option listed.

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  1. Change settings when you dislike the content of a page or Facebook friend.

The upper-right-hand corner of a post will give you a drop down menu.

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Click it…. It will give you options to save a post, hide a post (and those like it), hide every post, report a post, turn off notifications, or copy the link. 

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You get to choose what you want to see! Yay!

  1. Boost the posts of people that you want to see and “unfollow” anything that you don’t want to see

Thankfully, Facebook allows us to see the posts of people, that matter most to us, first. On the other hand, we also live in a world that is full of  negative people. At times, these people are family members, co-workers, and life-long friends. Although these may be people that we truly care about, we may not want to consistently dwell on their personal negativity. The good news is that you can “Unfollow” their posts without “Unfriending” them.

When you click on their profile you will see the following:

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  • Click on “Following“.

You will then be given the option to either “Unfollow” someone, or see their posts first.

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The tips that I shared with you changed my news feed drastically. Feel free to use them to shape your news feed into something that you truly enjoy.

 

Godspeed,

 

John Garay

 

Photo credit: Foter.com

Bullying and why the anti-bullying movement frustrates me

I was bullied as a child. This is how I dealt with it. Feel free to share this with others. (Take control of your life)

Thank you for taking the time to view my vlog today. In my video, I mention 4 ways things that you can do to help someone that is being bullied. I have listed them for you below

  1. Empathize

Empathy is the best thing that you can give someone that is being bullied. Empathy is not creating a silver lining. It is not selecting a magical phrase to minimize the pain that the bullying victim is experiencing. Rather, it is making yourself available to connect with the person and letting them know that they are not alone. Renowned author, Dr. Brené Brown, states, “rarely does a response make something better. What makes something better is connection.” (Click on hyperlink to view her lecture on empathy)

  1. Empower

Don’t be scared to teach your loved one how to defend themselves. Ask yourself, “What skill does this person need to defend himself/herself?” Some people can benefit from learning self-defense techniques. Others, can benefit from learning how to verbally defend themselves. Each person is different. Ask them what they need. Don’t have them do anything that they aren’t willing to do.

  1. Encourage

Speak life into those that are hurting. Give a compliment. Give them words of affirmation. Here is a small list of phrases that you can use.

  • I believe in you.
  • You are more powerful than you know.
  • I love you.
  • You are perfect, whole, and complete.
  1. Expose

Expose the perpetrator if the bullying does not stop. Advocating for your child or loved one may require you to call child protective services (CPS) or other agency.  It is common for children to act out when they face challenges that are beyond their control. CPS has behavioral health specialists that can provide an assessment for the bully and his/her family. The results of the assessment will allow them to make a referral to an appropriate agency.  The behaviors of the bully can be addressed through counseling and parent education. It’s also important to consider that the perpetrator may be in an unsafe environment and the child can be moved to safety.

Godspeed,

John Garay

 

Photo credit: andy z via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

4 ways to create your own power-tribe

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For many years, I sought every opportunity available to position myself as an influencer. I got my first taste of leadership at Hatch Valley High School. Although I was committing social-suicide, I found myself serving on a committee of students that created the menu for our cafeteria. (Yes my friends, I was the guilty party that left you with no other choice than to forcefully swallow sloppy joes once a month) Much to my surprise, I found great satisfaction in this role. I enjoyed having others ask for my opinion and insight. Also, it felt amazing to walk into the cafeteria and know that I helped place tacos on the menu that day. I took my role seriously and began to seek other ways to influence others. By my Senior year, I served two terms as class president, and was active in other clubs and activities…..Go me!!!

As an adult, I continued to pursue opportunities to lead and serve. My twenties were a blur of leadership roles. I served in one role after another. At times, I served in multiple roles at once. I was a choir director, musician, trainer at work, I served in my faith community, and I signed-up for anything I could get my hands on.

At the age of twenty-one I became a foster-parent. The opportunity to influence others doubled at this point. I had the opportunity to influence children and the community. I specialized in behavior modification and I coached and mentored others in this very craft. In addition, I was ordained as a member of the clergy. I then had people turning to me to seek counsel and insight on all matters of life. I wanted to do a great job, so I jumped at every opportunity to learn and share my knowledge. I signed-up, I stuffed, I crammed, I mentored, I led, I developed, and then at the age of 32……. I crashed. My season as an influencer came to an abrupt halt.

I wish I had some glorious tale of how I quickly regained my super-powers. However, all I can tell you is that I shamelessly sat on the sidelines for a lengthy amount of time seeking to regain strength. Although it was a slow process, I found my strength increasing when I surrounded myself with people who inspired me. The strength didn’t come from people doing things for me, but rather from conversation. I found that surrounding myself with people who were willing to share their stories of struggle and triumph empowered me to rise above. Surrounding myself with people who actively talked about setting goals inspired me to do the same. Surrounding myself with people who loved life inspired me to live a life of gratitude and enjoy every minute of it.  As time passed, I realized that I had created my very own power tribe. I had positioned myself with a network of people that I can turn to, not only for great conversation, but also for inspiration. SAMHSA defines wellness as good mental and physical health. They also break down wellness into 8 dimensions of life. Two of these are the social dimension and intellectual dimension. I encourage you to keep this in mind as I quickly share with you 4 ways to create your very own power-tribe.

  1. Identify what is important to you

Before you can surround yourself by a powerful team of influencers, you’ve got to know what you want your tribe to look like. Do you want the people in your tribe to have a certain skill-set? Do they need to work in a specific industry? Do they need to be overcomers of a certain challenge? Do they need to be experts in anything? Create a list of qualities that you desire your tribe members to have and let that be your starting point.

  1. Create space

One of my old mentors once told me, “Sometimes you have to get rid of some good things to make room for the best things.” This is an important statement to consider when you are creating space for a power-tribe in your life. Ask yourself this question, “Is there any person or activity, that I am currently invested in, that could potentially be an obstacle to investing in my own power-tribe?” If anything comes up, after an honest inventory, you may want to choose to create a boundary or distance yourself from that person. The boundary and/distance must be a decision that you are willing and able to implement. Otherwise, you may face feelings of personal resentment and regret after time.

  1. Identify potential allies

Make a list of influencers that you already know or that you would like to meet. Review contact list on your phone, Facebook, LinkedIn, and check your rolodex. Ask yourself, “Is there anybody within my circle of influence that I’d like to sit with and pick their brain for a minute or two?” You are welcome to move on to number 4 once you’ve listed a person or two.

  1. Reach out

Can I have five minutes of your time? This is a simple question that can lead to a strong influencing relationship, or it can let you know if the person is not a good fit. You will never know until you make the choice to reach out. Make it happen. Reach out.

Godspeed,

John Garay

Photo credit: Foter.com

4 things I learned from my facebook purge

I don’t know how you feel about this matter, but I get nauseated every time I see someone announce their upcoming “friends list purge”. Perhaps I’m assuming much, but I picture that person sitting at home, waving their wand of disdain, as they select who will and who won’t make their final cut. Then, one by one, they “unfriend” those they deem as deplorable, while simultaneously sending squeals of delight into the atmosphere…. I recognize that my assumption is quite over the top, but that’s what runs through my head every time I see one of those god-forsaken-announcements…. You know what annoys me even more? The remnant of people who comment under the purge-post thanking the purger for allowing them to make the cut…. Sometimes I feel like grabbing each of those pour souls by the shoulders, cyber-slapping them upside the head, and telling them “Don’t encourage this kind of behavior! It’s pathetic and sickening!!!”

Well, as much as I despise facebook purges… I must admit that about 3 years ago, after much inner turmoil and deliberation, I chose to initiate my own facebook purge. Before I go any further, I must mention that this is the first time that I speak publicly about it (note* there was nothing glorious about it) Nevertheless, here’s what led to it…..

To preface my reason, I must shamelessly tell you that I am a social media junkie. I regularly lose track of time while scrolling down my FB newsfeed and have been called a “social-media-addict” by many. Nevertheless, I have found social media to be a creative outlet where I can express myself freely. I use it as a platform to inspire others, bring encouragement, spread laughter, and give hope to the hurting. However, 3 years ago, I found myself in an uncomfortable place in life. I had just completed graduate school, I was living in a new city, and I had a great desire to establish meaningful friendships in my community. I was constantly searching for possibilities at work, at church, and at school. I met many wonderful people but nothing concrete emerged…. I then realized that if I wanted to create the type of tribe that I desired to have, I would need to invest time and effort into reaching my goal. At the time, the largest time and energy robber I had was facebook. I had over 1,200 friends, and for some unknown reason, I felt obligated to read through every post made by each of them, daily. My list consisted of childhood friends from my home town, college friends, family members, people I met at church, work colleagues, you name it……. Most of them were wonderful people, but I wasn’t interacting with many of them on a regular basis. So, in attempt to create space for new opportunities in the realm of friendship, I axed about 550-ish people from my friends list….. I know you are probably wondering what my criteria was for friends that made the cut and who didn’t. However, I didn’t axe people on the bases of lifestyle choices, politics, or life philosophy…. I simply axed anyone who wasn’t a family member and who hadn’t interacted with me for the past thirty days…. It wasn’t easy for me. Honestly, I went through the five stages of grief, but in return I created the space that I needed to reach my goal….. and in the process I learned the following:

  1. I am a people hoarder

Early on I committed to only add friends that I knew and valued. I ended-up realizing that I value a gang-load of people. I have friends that I’ve carried in my heart and mind since I was in the first grade. I’m connected to many of my teachers, mentors, pastors and other life leaders that I had in life. If you had a meaningful part in my life in the past, I’ll do my best to carry you into my future. Sadly, it isn’t always possible…… and that is my struggle.

  1. Not everybody wants to be part of my life

I never heard back from many of the people that didn’t make my initial cut. I wasn’t surprised. I had one person contact me about 2 years later, out of the blue, asking me if I had unfriended them. They were visibly upset. I let that person throw the tantrum while laughing inside. The person couldn’t believe that I unfriended them, and I couldn’t believe that it took them 2 years to find out.

  1. I am constantly unaware of the value that others have for me.

A few months after the purge I had quite a few people reach out to ask me if I was alright. They noticed my absence on FaceBook, they hadn’t heard from me, and they were genuinely concerned. This gave me an opportunity to share my challenges of living in a new city with them. I apologized for any hurt feelings and let them know that I had not intended on hurting anyone. Surprisingly, it led to a rekindling of sorts. I ended up reconnecting with many of them in person, meeting for coffee, lunch, and other events. Other people reached out to me simply with a friend request and a message stating that they missed my inspirational quotes.

  1. Life is best lived in gratitude and constant expectancy

I’ve come to understand that it is impossible to maintain every friendship that I’ve had since childhood. However, I can carry the memory of the times we shared, throughout my life…. And when I remember the good times that we shared, I can be grateful. At the same time, I leave my hand open to the possibility of encountering other people who will light my life with inspiration, accountability, and adventure. I choose to live in gratitude. I choose to live in expectancy.

Godspeed,

John Garay

Photo credit: Foter.com

Storylines: Life, Death, and the Inbetween

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I’m a sucker for a good storyline. I’m the kind of guy that fully invests himself in a story. By the end of a book (or movie), I feel like I know the characters personally. I have celebrated victories with them, struggled with them, held hope for them, and “by golly”, they have become part of my life.  I know that I am not alone in this. I see it all the time when people line up to see the latest Star Wars, Avengers, or Jason Bourne movie. ……Not to mention what we saw a few years back with the Twilight series. Unfortunately, every good story has an ending. To add to that, not every story ends that we want it to. Nevertheless, the story is not complete until it is finished.

This past weekend I had the honor of attending my uncle’s funeral services. It was such a bittersweet moment. In the forefront was the reality that we were all saddened by the departure of such a great man. On the other hand, there was such celebration of life. Friends and family members stood to share a storyline of 93 year span of love, laughter, and triumph. I learned that, as a young man, Ronald Reagan’s mother visited my uncle while he was in a hospital being treated for tuberculosis. She found out that he only had a 3rd grade education, so she encouraged him to go back to school. Although his primary language was Spanish, he was inspired by this encounter. He went on to earn his G.E.D. and a degree in engineering through correspondence school. Another story was told about a time when he, his siblings, and his dad were traveling by mule and wagon to the nearest city. During their travels a man with a Model-T Ford crashed into their mule and killed it with the impact. When asked how they got to their destination without that mule, my uncle would reply, “Easy, we had a spare mule.” (a second mule was tied to the back of the wagon). However, the most touching stories told were from family members who told about my uncle’s impact on their life. There was a brother who lived with him and my aunt during his last year of high school. There was a great-niece that remembered how he taught her how to do math. There was a neighbor that shared how he walked his lawn mower several houses down to help their family when her husband took ill.  Hearing this, we as a family, laughed and cried together. There was so much beauty and so much pain being experienced all at once. However, as expected, every great story line eventually comes to end. There we were as a family, gathered with his precious sons and grand-children, turning the last page of his book. Although his story is now complete, the imprint of his story is imprinted on our hearts forever.

As I left the funeral this thought came to me, “As much as we as humans love storylines, the reality is that we actively participate in one every moment of our lives.” Our storylines give us the privilege to encounter people, places, victories, and challenges in the same manner that characters in good books and movies do. The difference is that we get to actively participate in the lives of the lives of the characters that we encounter in this lifetime. Unlike books and movies, we can tangibly see, touch, and interact with the characters around us. We have the privilege and ability to impact the story that we experience. However, as hard as we may try to fight it, that story someday will end…… Knowing this, makes me want to life differently. It makes me want to say the words “I love you” more often. It makes me want to spend more time with my friends and family. It makes me want to appreciate people more than material possessions. It makes me want to live this life well.

In conclusion, I’d like to say, “Thank you Uncle Moe!” You may no longer be with us in person, but you sure are making me think. I’m headed back home inspired by the legacy you left behind. Thank you for everything.

Godspeed-

John Garay

Life is short I want to live it well
One life, one story to tell
Life is short I want to live it well
And you’re the one I’m living for
Awaken, oh my soul!
Every breath that you take is a miracle
Life is short I want to live it well- Live it well, Switchfoot

It is my desire to partner with you on your journey
I am available to coach you as you set goals and create a path to reach them
Click here to book a coaching session or to purchase an additional premier services

Photo credit: Cameron Maddux via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA