The Secret of How to Harness the Power of Positivity and Be Happy Now
Life gets busy. Has Think Like a Monk been gathering dust on your bookshelf? Instead, pick up the key ideas now.
Jay Shetty’s Perspective
Jay Shetty is an award-winning host, viral content creator, motivational speaker, and author. Jay launched his YouTube channel in 2016 to provide wisdom videos. Four years later, he has obtained over four billion views on YouTube and has over 20 million followers globally. On top of this, Jay was named in the Forbes 30 Under 30.
Jay’s life was changed when he met a monk at the age of 18. Jay started redefining success for himself and wanted to serve others. At age 22, he spent three years traveling across India and Europe as a monk. His daily routine was waking up at 4 a.m., taking cold showers, meditating, and eating. He would meditate approximately 4-8 hours daily. Half of Jay’s day would be spent on personal growth, and the other half serving others. Today, he has moved back into society. However, he aims to help people apply the monk mindset to busy city life.
Think Like a Monk includes a combination of ancient wisdom and Jay Shetty’s personal experiences. The aim of Think Like a Monk is to help individuals apply a monk mindset to their lives. Think Like a Monk shows you how to clear the roadblocks to your potential by overcoming negative thoughts, accessing stillness, and creating true purpose. It can be challenging to apply the lessons of monks to busy lives. However, Shetty provides advice and exercises to reduce stress, improve self-discipline and focus, and maintain relationships in the modern world.
StoryShot #1: Jay Met a Monk While at College
Shetty had a friend in college who asked him to attend a session with a monk. At the time, Shetty was reluctant. He did not believe the monk would know anything he did not already understand about the world. He still agreed to attend this lecture with his friend. To his surprise, he was immediately inspired by the monk. He was shocked by the passion with which the monk spoke about the importance of service. Shetty was so impressed he asked to meet the monk personally and eventually made the decision to become a monk. He is not expecting readers to become monks. He would like them to think like a monk.
StoryShot #2: Create Deliberate Values to Form Your Identity
Our identity is like a mirror covered in dust. We have no idea who we are, what we want to be, who we seek, and what we want to value. This is due to the dust that obscures our vision. Shetty explains that cleaning your mirror will not be a pleasant experience. That said, only once you have removed the dust obscuring your mirror can you see your true reflection. Removing the dust allows you to see who you truly are.
Shetty distinguishes between detachment and attachment. Attachment is wanting something to happen in a particular way. Detachment occurs when you want something to happen in the best way. The problem with attachment is that you think you know the best way.
We need to be more deliberate about the values we follow because our values guide us in life. Shetty uses the example of method actors like Heath Ledger and Daniel Day-Lewis. These actors would utilize method acting to better adopt the role they were playing in a movie. But, they would often feel lost after leaving this role. They had started to adopt the identity of their character. Shetty explains the same concept is experienced by individuals who do not have deliberate values. If you are continually following your life based on projects rather than your purpose, you will be lost when these projects fail.
You are not at the end of your last journey when you choose purpose over projects. Instead, you are at the beginning of who you’re going to become.
StoryShot #3: Pursue Higher Values
Shetty describes two types of values with differing outcomes. He encourages readers to pursue higher values, including gratitude, service, truthfulness, and compassion. These higher values are what will give you happiness, fulfillment, and meaning. In comparison, Jay Shetty suggests readers avoid lower values. Examples of common lower values include greed, lust, anger, and envy. The outcome of these lower values is a combination of anxiety, depression, and suffering.
StoryShot #4: Use Mistakes as Fuel to Create Protective Shields
You need to learn to encourage a culture of compassion, specifically self-compassion and self-forgiveness. Choosing this approach rather than dwelling on negative actions can have a significant impact on your life. Instead of beating yourself up about your mistakes, you should be trying to build the muscles to help you be resilient. If you feed your resilience effectively, then you will be happy irrespective of what life brings you.
You need to put on your protective shield. You should not walk onto the battlefield of life without doing your training and shielding.
StoryShot #5: Use Sights, Scents and Sounds to Tackle Life’s Struggles
Think about the first thing you see in the morning. Studies suggest 80% of people see their phone before their partner in both the morning and evening. Make the first thing you see in the morning a quote you love, a work of art that inspires you, or a picture of your family that means a lot to you. Making these things the first thing you see in the morning will help you pause and think. Looking at your phones first means you start your day by reacting to other people’s agendas.
Shetty talks about the power of smell. There is a reason that spas use smells like lavender and eucalyptus. These scents help create positivity and relaxation that helps protect you from negativity.
Finally, Shetty talks about how irrelevant sounds can increase your cognitive load. While living in New York, the author was starting to feel exhausted for no true reason. After reading academic articles, he learned how having irrelevant sounds in your environment could increase cognitive load. You are wasting 80% of your cognitive load if you have news on in the background or loud drilling nearby. Seek to create an environment where you are intentionally creating sound—for example, choosing music that uplifts you and gives you energy.
StoryShot #6: Spot, Stop and Swap
Addressing negativity involves awareness, addressing and amending. Shetty then breaks these three actions down into three simple Ss: spot (awareness), stop (addressing), and swap (amending). This is the way that stoics used to approach negativity. Firstly, you need to learn to spot negative thoughts as they arise. Once you have spotted the negative thoughts, you can start considering how you can stop them. For example, are these negative thoughts associated with a specific environment or activity? Finally, you should swap the time you spend within these negative environments with something productive. Upgrade this time to an action that can be associated with a higher purpose.
StoryShot #7: Fear Is Driven By Attachment and Control
According to Shetty, the root cause of fear is an obsession with attachment and control. Therefore, the cure for fear is detachment. Detachment is not that you own nothing, but that nothing owns you. Detachment does not mean you should be indifferent to life and the things around you. Instead, you should completely avoid letting objects control your decisions. These objects are called “preferred indifferents”. It is acceptable to prefer having these things in your life. That said, you do not need these things to be happy.
StoryShot #8: Find Skills That You Are Passionate About
One of the crucial features of successful pursuits is passion. So, Shetty encourages readers to identify their passions. These passions should be the activities that you have a natural talent for and love. The quadrant of potential considers the overlap between skill and passion. In this quadrant, an activity can fall into one of four categories:
- Skill but no passion
- Skill and passion
- No skill but passion
- No skill and no passion
Shetty recommends you consider where most of your daily activities lie in this quadrant. You need to start moving towards incorporating more activities filled with both skill and passion.
StoryShot #9: Prioritize Alignment Over Achievement
Having the wrong intention for the right thing can lead us down the wrong path. Prioritize alignment over achievement, as alignment means having your intention aligned with your action. Being aligned means looking for the right thing in the right way. Positive intention is extremely powerful. You can be doing the wrong thing with the right intention and still get to where you want to be. Shetty uses an analogy to explain this point. Suppose you plant some seeds and then go to water them. If you accidentally water both the seeds and the weed next to them, the seeds will still grow. You can also spot the weeds later down the line. You must continue to water your seeds to think like a monk.
You need to stop and think about why you are doing something. Do not let external factors drive your internal happiness. Allowing external factors to drive your happiness means you are putting your happiness in somebody else’s hands. You are relinquishing control.
StoryShot #10: How to Improve Your Morning Routine
Morning routines are crucial for setting your day up in the right way. Shetty explains that having a powerful routine is critical to having an incredible day. Jay does not suggest that you need to be someone who achieves everything in the morning. You do not have to work out for hours or obtain your life goals in the morning. But there are a few simple practices that you can engage with to help your morning routine positively impact your life.
- Don’t Look at Your Phone
When you look at your phone in the morning, you are already letting messages and information come and override your mind. You are already setting yourself up for being reactive throughout the day.
- Plan Your Next Day the Night Before
Shetty explains that people tend to make decisions during the morning that will impact the rest of their day. For example, in the morning, we decide what to wear, eat, and do that evening. Jay warns against something called decision fatigue. We can make the wrong decisions if we have to make them on the morning of that day. Make simple decisions today about tomorrow. This approach will allow you to make significant decisions when you get into the office. You won’t have decision fatigue from the simple decisions.
- Integrate TIME Into Your Life
Shetty introduces an acronym of TIME. The T stands for thankfulness. Try to find a moment daily to be thankful and truly grateful for the things you have in your life. The I stands for insight. Try to find some time for insight during your day. Do so by listening to a podcast while commuting or listening to an audio book while traveling. These mediums will help your brain to grow and keep active. This can improve the quality of your life and well-being. M stands for meditation. You don’t have to engage in prolonged meditation sessions. Instead, try to find 2 minutes each day to focus on meditation. A short amount of meditation will allow you to keep calm and provide you with mental clarity. Finally, E stands for exercise. Merely 15 minutes of exercise each morning will help you to feel energized when you need it.
StoryShot #11: Stop Feeding Your Mind With Negative Information
Shetty explains his experiences as a monk helped him quickly learn that our minds influence our values. We are not our minds, but our mind is a vehicle for deciding what is important to us. Your mind is fed by the movies you watch, the music you hear, the books you read, the TV shows you binge and the people you follow online and offline. The more you are absorbed by negative sources, including troubling news and gossip, the more your values are tainted with envy, judgment, competition, and discontent.
StoryShot #12: Start Feeding Your Mind With Positive Thoughts
One way to ensure you are feeding your mind with positive thoughts is to observe and evaluate. Then, integrate space, stillness, and silence into your life. When you tune out the opinions, expectations, and obligations of the world, you can begin to hear yourself. Silence allows you to start differentiating between outside noise and your voice. In the modern world, people are often scared of being still and alone with their thoughts. So, we fill our days to the brim. This means we are too busy to listen to our thoughts. In fact, certain studies have found that people would rather give themselves an electric shock than spend fifteen minutes with no distractions.
Despite this inclination, if you do not stop and listen to yourself, external factors will guide you. The music, videos, and news will be the means providing you with your purpose.
Shetty provides three approaches that can help you actively create the space, silence, and stillness required for reflection. Together, these approaches will help you think like a monk:
- Sit down daily to reflect on how the day went and what emotions you are feeling.
- Monthly, try to go to an environment you have never been to before. Visiting these new places will help you explore yourself within a different environment.
- Get involved in something meaningful to you, such as a hobby, charity, or political cause.
StoryShot #13: Be Present With Those Most Important to You
If you don’t know who you are, you will not know what you want from a relationship. This means you will send out the wrong signals and attract the wrong people.
The heart of all challenges in relationships is diagnosing what we are asking for and what we need. Most of us are asking for something from relationships that we don’t actually need. From Shetty’s time coaching people on their relationships, the most common thing that people want from their partner is time. Just being in the same area as your partner is not spending time with them, though. For example, suppose one of you is sitting on their phone and the other is watching TV. In this instance, you are not truly spending time together. So, Jay outlines three ways that you can genuinely spend time with people you care about:
When loved ones are asking for your time they are asking for these characteristics. They want something deeper than just spending time with them. Try to be present in the moment by avoiding digital and thought distractions. Ensure you are paying full attention to the other individual and what they are saying. Finally, put time aside to enjoy the company of your loved ones alone. Intimate conversations are where you can both be yourselves.
StoryShot #14: Use Harvard’s Emotional Vocabulary to Make Yourself Clearer
Shetty also provides guidance on better diagnosing how you feel and articulating it within your relationships. He recommends something called the Harvard Emotional Vocabulary. Instead of giving a blanket response of ‘Things are bad’, this tool provides all the words associated with you feeling emotionally bad. For example, under the banner of ‘bad’ would be anger, disappointment, and sadness. Seeing these words can help you better diagnose how you feel and improve the communication of emotions within your relationships. If you are asking for the right thing, then people will understand you.
Final Summary and Review of Think Like A Monk
Think Like a Monk provides the key lessons that Jay Shetty has learned from his transition to Buddhism and his experience of applying these messages to the modern world. The concept is that being a Monk is compatible with technology, relationships and full-time jobs. As long as you find your identity in the right areas, think positively and treat your loved ones well, you will start to think like a monk.
One criticism of the book is the simplifications it makes. For instance, while meditation is a beneficial activity, it can also trigger negative insights for some people.
This post was first made in November 2020. It was updated in January 2022.
StoryShots Rating: 4.5/5
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