When it comes to finding your purpose, Jay Shetty has been on a unique personal journey. But now, the former monk who became the global keynote speaker, life coach, and podcast host shares the insights and wisdom he has learned
I’m really excited to read this article because I’ve shared so many things that I haven’t said before, ”said Jay Shetty as we parted. It was an enlightening hour in the company of a man who, only a decade ago after graduating from Cass Business School in London, traded fancy suits for saffron robes and gave up his business pursuit to become a Vedic monk.
For three years, Jay’s existence was devoted to service and purpose. He spent hours each day studying Buddhist teachings and volunteering until, encouraged by his elders, he left to share what he had learned with the world.
Since then, the global appetite for Jay’s teachings has been insatiable. His life, love, business, and health motivational videos have been viewed by more than 7.5 billion people. A-listers – from Russell Brand to Deepak Chopra – appear on his podcast, and Jay, 32, is one of the most respected motivational speakers in the world.
To learn that Happiful has sparked new thinking in such a spiritual mastermind is of course exciting. Speaking from the LA house he shares with his wife Radhi, Jay is in the middle of an advertising campaign for his debut book Think Like A Monk: Train Your Mind Every Day for Peace and Purpose, examining our conversation as detached from ours so. The so-called “monkey mind” is the key to living a less anxious, more meaningful life, improving focus and relationships, and removing obstacles to our true potential and strength.
“The monkey jumps from branch to branch, gets distracted, and is easy to entertain – and the monkey minds are the same,” says Jay. “It runs in autopilot and deafness mode by default. The monk mind stops watching, being present, gaining awareness, and is proactive and not reactive. There is a constant attempt to find ways to improve instead of finding ways to satisfy immediately. We all need a little guidance in our lives. “
Here Jay shows how lessons from 3,000 years ago are just as relevant today as they were then …
Check your time and energy
The first way to think like a monk is to align yourself. For many of us, we think one thing, say another, and do another, and as a result, we feel out of alignment. Do you wonder what you value and does your time, schedule, and energy reflect this? If I asked you, “What do you value more: being happy or watching TV?”, You would probably say, “be happy.” But if I say, “What do you spend more time on?”, You could say, “TV.”
Wisdom traditions teach us that most of the stress and pain we experience is due to our living in the past or future. So you have to think: “Where in my life can I start to implement habits that make me more present?”
One of my favorite tips is the acronym T.I.M.E. – Gratitude, Insight, Meditation, and Movement. Just as we need to feed our bodies every day to stay alive, we also need to feed our mind and soul.
Connect with your breath
A younger monk once told me that the only thing that stays with us from the moment we are born until we die is our breath. What changes when you experience different emotions? Your breath. When you’re late for work, nervous, or stressed, your breathing changes. Most of us become fiction writers when under pressure. You are creating a story in your head about what is going on in your life that is not based on facts. Breathing brings clarity and brings you back to the present moment. By learning to control the breath, we can control our emotions. Breathing is a very tangible experience of meditation. As you breathe deeper, you will feel your heart beat slower and your body calm down. So meditate!
Be honest about your use of social media
Whatever is in your news feed feeds your mind. So be selective about who you are exposed to and set limits. You could say, “I’m really excited about starting this social entrepreneurship business,” but find that the past few weekends have been spending your time scrolling social media. When you stare it in the face like a mirror, you feel the enthusiasm and energy to restore balance.
My greatest test was to live my passion and purpose in a world that forces us to be safe and secure
Update the negative internal dialogue
Become aware of what arouses feelings of unkindness or judgment towards ourselves. Is it a feeling from the past? Is it a statement from a friend or family member? Every time you find yourself talking negatively to yourself, think about it and say, “Why am I having this thought? Do I really deserve this? “Then swap it for another statement. Instead of saying, “I’m so exhausted,” say, “I’m energized when I exercise.” The mind then trains itself to think, “I can feel energized or productive in this activity.”
Do not copy other people
When dealing with a challenging person with negative habits, remember that they are human and that their negative experiences have conditioned them. Ask yourself, “Do I have the strength to lift this person up, or will I end up being dragged down?” If it [the latter]Chances are you’ll need space to strengthen yourself before you can get this person up. Sometimes you might not be the person to inspire them, but you can introduce them to someone who can.
Own your flaws
I’m not proud of what I did as a teenager. I’ve experimented with drugs, fought, and drank too much. I’ve hurt people and caused pain. It is important for the monks to use these mistakes as anchors to keep us humble and grounded. So we never take it for granted how tough growth and development are.
As we grow and evolve, it is easy to think of everyone else as “less than”. When you remember where you came from, you realize that we are all on our own journeys and each have our own growth process. Most of us believe that forgiveness is about the other person. We are waiting for others to apologize or for them to change. You may be waiting forever and while you wait you worry about someone over whom you have no power. Try to implement unconditional forgiveness. It frees us from that worry.
Serve others … but serve yourself first
Service makes us happy because it creates the deepest connection with another person. Scientific studies show that spending time or money on others than yourself will always make you happier. In the monastic tradition, this service is fully realized when you take care of your health, add self-love, and then serve. However, when you don’t manage your health and apply self-love, service feels like a burden. This is why so many people feel overwhelmed by giving because they think, “Will someone help me back?” You are a better partner, parent, and person when you feel like you are giving yourself what you need. Of course we need people in our lives who are very committed to us, but doing things for ourselves fills us with so much more strength and confidence.
Be what you need
There’s a lovely statement from Timber Hawkeye that I love: “Don’t wait for the storm to calm down, calm your mind and the storm will pass.” Instead of waiting for a perfect situation and making the sunny day happy – things that we cannot control – the sunny day becomes. The monk’s mind [thinks]”Let me be what I need, don’t make me need it.” So if you need rest, get calm. So many of us seek distraction when experiencing pain or stress. Instead, just sit down and think, “OK stress, I see you, I know you are there.” Understand the stress and talk to it. Stress is an emotion that tries to tell you something. Don’t ignore it.
Familiarize yourself with conflicts
A 75-year Harvard study shows that the most important indicator of human happiness is the quality of our relationships. This quality is not based on the number of people in our lives or on how many people attended our birthday or funeral. It’s about the depth to which we feel understood. Most relationships fail because people don’t know how to deal with difficult situations. Learn how to feel comfortable in awkward conversations. As you struggle, remember that you are not against each other, you are both against the problem. Team up against the challenge instead of believing that you are on opposite sides. If you want to win in a relationship and the other person wants to lose, guess what? You both lose. The only way to win in a relationship is to realize that you are either winning together or losing together.
Find your passion
My greatest test was to live my passion and purpose in a world that forces us to be safe and secure. When I came back from India in 2013, people said, “Jay, you have no money, you’d better get a job just to pay the bills.” I’ve been doing this for a couple of years, but I realized I wasn’t satisfied. I had a passion and a purpose to share what I had learned, and it was through the monastic teachings that I learned to protect my purpose. Many people are scared of trying things out, but how would it feel if we didn’t try? How scary would that be? I feel humble and grateful for the life I am living today and that people are taking the time to listen to my podcasts, read my book and learn from it. I hope I can do that for many decades to come.
Jay Shetty’s “Think Like a Monk” (Harper Thorsons, £ 16.99) is available now.