Think Like a Monk – Jay Shetty

Think Like a Monk – I picked this book up at the Chennai Book Fair in January 2023 and am glad I was able to read this. Jay Shetty’s parents are from India, and he grew up in the UK. He went to Ashrams in India, learned the lifestyle of monks, and was one for three years.

Here are some of my learnings from reading Jay’s book.

The Art of Detachment

Jay Shetty, in his book, writes that nothing belongs to us in this world. We borrow or rent them and need to cherish the moment we are gifted with what we have. When you come to realize that we don’t truly control anything, you will start valuing people and the time you spend with them more. We can’t control death. We just have to accept that everything in life is temporary. Detachment is a way to get here. Gauranga Das was one of his early teachers. 

The Power of Breath

Breathing helps. Taking a deep breath, holding it for four seconds, and releasing it serves us well. When you breathe in, you take the positive energy, and when you breathe out, you let go of the negative energy. Breath is the only thing that stays with us from the time we are born we die. 

Discovering Your True Identity

Identity is what you see in the mirror. Initially, there may be a lot of dust when you look in the mirror. However, when you clear it, you can see your real self (it may not be pleasant) – however it is the truth.  ‘It is impossible to build one’s own happiness on the unhappiness of others’ – Daisaku Ikeda.

Negativity and complaining are contagious.  We do not want to judge someone by their worst moments (just like how we do not like to be judged by our worst moments). When someone hurts you, it is because they are hurt. It does not make sense to gossip.  If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito – Dalai Lama. 

Read More: Dive into my thoughts on Arthur C. Brooks’ book From Strength to Strength for Enlightening Insights on Identifying True Self

Cultivating Joy and Forgiveness

It is good to find joy in others’ success (otherwise we are limiting ourselves). Forgiving others and receiving forgiveness both contribute to our overall well-being. Fear is good because it helps us get better. Detachment is a good way to overcome fear. We fear the wrong things. Jay Shetty encourages us to acknowledge and accept our fears. Time is a valuable form of wealth, and managing it wisely brings great rewards. While fear can serve as a motivator, it can also hinder our progress. By confronting and experiencing challenging situations outside our comfort zones, we can effectively overcome fear.

Motivations in Life

There are four motivations in life: Fear, Desire, Duty, and Love. It is hard to sustain a high level of joy. Having a purpose in life makes it simpler and easier to focus on this. It is important to do chores. No work is too small. Wash dishes, clean the house, restrooms, and more. Do things you are good at and love. Discover such things. Jay also talks about test-driving your dharmas and finding out what you are good at (Leader, Creator, Guide, or Maker).

The Power of Routines

Having a daily routine is important for creativity. Getting up early always helps. It is great to have a routine (e.g Coffee at 4:00 pm). The secret to getting up early in the morning is sleeping early in the night. Write down three things you want to accomplish before you go to bed. Evening routines are also helpful. 

Delving Deeper and Embracing Single-Tasking

Designated places serve the purpose of aiding and segregating various activities within a confined space. Even in a small studio bedroom apartment, you can designate places. (Place to eat, place to read). Find what is your rhythm and also find things you enjoy, places you enjoy most, and do more of it. Just as the ocean holds countless treasures, diving beneath the surface allows you to uncover them all, whereas swimming merely on the surface limits your exploration. Therefore, it is essential to delve deeper. 

Embracing the concept of single-tasking over multitasking is key to maximizing efficiency. By focusing on one task at a time, you can enhance productivity and achieve better results.

Mind and Detachment

Jay says that the secret to success is controlling your mind. Meditation helps, and Jay recommends that it is one of the first things we should try. Try fasting (not eating anything for a day or more). Also, try not to talk to anyone for a day or a week and be silent the whole time. He also suggests traveling with no money, no change of clothes, and trying to survive with nothing. 

You will quickly realize that you do not need much in this world to live. You also understand detachment. If you detach yourself, you can lead a joyful life (as everything is temporary anyways).  

It is important to train your brain. He also suggests that talking to one’s self every day helps. Writing helps declutter problems. Jay suggests removing unwanted sensory triggers from home (or) deleting apps we get distracted by. 

Bhagavad Gita says

For him who has conquered the mind, the mind is the best of friends; but for one who has failed to do so, his very mind will be the greatest enemy’. 

Training the Brain and Ego Management

The author quotes Sama Veda’s‘ Pride of Wealth destroys Wealth’, pride of strength destroys the strength, and Pride of Knowledge destroys Knowledge’. We need to get rid of our egos. We play only a very small part in the context of the Universe. 

What belongs to you today belonged to someone else yesterday and will be someone else’s tomorrow. Whatever we end up doing is not just because of us. It is because of the help and knowledge of thousands of other people. Spanx Founder Sara Blakely’s Dad would ask her and her brother not what did you do at school today, but, what did you fail at school today.  

Recommended Reading: Discover the Power of Ego Management. Read my thoughts on Ego is the Enemy – A Blog by Ryan Holiday

The Power of Visualization

Anything that you see in today’s world (e.g. a table, clock) existed in someone’s mind before it came to be. It is a very good practice to visualize things (or) even visualize the future. 

Cultivating Gratitude and a Service Mindset

We often take things for granted. We need to be thankful for little things. We can be thankful even for a morning walk. We can find joy even in little things like washing dishes. No work is too small. Gandhi said ‘ The golden way is to be friends with the world and to regard the whole human family as one’. 

The Impact of Service and Simple Life Hacks

The service mindset is portrayed  by Helen Keller’s quote: ‘I cried because I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet.’ It illustrates the profound realization that our highest purpose lies in living a life of service. By putting others before ourselves, we cultivate selflessness, which in turn leads to inner peace and meaningful existence.

When we extend a helping hand to someone in need, it is not merely their lives that benefit; we also experience a deep sense of peace and fulfillment. The act of helping others becomes a mutually beneficial exchange, enriching both the giver and the recipient. This reciprocal nature of service magnifies its impact and reinforces the bonds of humanity. Jay writes that the more detached we are, the easier it is to let go of time and money.  A simple life hack is a Service. 

My Take On the Book

Jay, being suspended from his school three times, is able to transform himself. This book is a great read for someone who has seen a bit of success and is looking at what is next. It is also a good read for someone who is low and looking for ways to better themselves. Detachment, Service, Visualize, being thankful, and having a routine were some of my key learnings from reading this book. Washing dishes, washing your own clothes, not having too many clothes, (Jay writes that monks just live with two, one to wear and the other to wash and dry), and traveling with no money are some of the key things which can teach us that we do not need a lot to live in this world. Service to others is a life hack and keeps us going.

Thanks Jay for writing this book. You did teach us how to Think like a monk. 

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