"At the time it was very difficult to go through.”
Award-winning storyteller, podcaster, social media sensation and former monk, Jay Shetty has launched his book, ‘Think Like A Monk: Train Your Mind for Peace and Purpose Every Day’ (2020).
In ‘Think Like A Monk’, Jay Shetty draws on his profound experience and wisdom from the ashram to enrich the lives of so many people.
He aims to help them overcome negative feelings and habits in order to attain peace and purpose to ensure people are content within themselves.
In fact, over the last three years, Jay Shetty has become one of the most influential voices worldwide.
One of his motivational videos was the most-watched video on Facebook in 2019 with more than 360 million views.
His purpose is to inspire people globally to live meaningful and less anxious lives.
In his empowering book, Jay Shetty provides beneficial exercises and advice which reduce anxiety and stress, improve focus and self-discipline and much more.
We speak exclusively to Jay Shetty about his book, ‘Think Like A Monk’, his time as a monk, the meaning of life, the South Asian community and more.
What did you learn as a monk?
“What I learned as a monk, there were several lessons which are in the book. One of the biggest things I think I learnt was adaptability and resilience.
“When you’re a monk, you sleep on the floor, you take cold showers, you live out of a gym locker, you wake up every day at 4 am.
“You don’t have a place to sleep, things change a lot every day. It’s that adaptability, resilience and finding certainty in uncertainty through service was interesting to me.
“We were always trying to find a way of always trying to help someone out which was a huge unique perspective.
Jay Shetty continued to mention why he left being a monk. He explained:
“And why I left was during my time as a monk I came to the almost self-awareness and understanding that I wasn’t meant to be a monk.
“I wanted to be in the world where I could share these ideas and messages.
“I felt that I still loved media and what was happening in the world. I wanted to be involved in that.
“But still be able to have an impact. At the same time, a lot of my teachers said that they felt I would be able to share what I learned if I left.
“At that time when I left, I didn’t know where I was going. So, it wasn’t excitement, it was fear and anxiety, stress and pressure.
“When I look back, I’m so grateful I joined and that I left. But at the time it was very difficult to go through.”
What compelled you to write the book?
“I started creating videos on social media four years ago, and then we launched the podcast on purpose last year in February.
“I started getting so many questions from people, ‘Jay when are you going to write a book? I want to understand more about your story.’
“There was just this massive influx of request from my incredible community and audience who I am so grateful to have.
“And for me, I wanted to be able to share everything in one place. The monk aspect of it is it really focuses on peace and wisdom.
“It shares wisdom from all over the world but primarily from texts that originate from India over the last 5,000 years.
“It was really important to place emphasis and give focus to those so that everyone in the world can access them.
“They are truly universal, completely timeless and relevant to everyone.”
Impact of Covid-19 on South Asians
“I think probably one of the biggest challenges is always our own mind.
“Our mind creates so many challenges like, ‘Oh, what about the future? Or what’s going to happen to me tomorrow?’
“They are all normal, valid feelings and I think a lot of the time we think it’s negative to think that. But that’s not true.
“It’s useful to understand that. In the book, I help you unpack and understand that feeling, worry and anxiety about the future.
“I think the second one that comes to mind is the feeling of being stuck and not knowing where you’re going. The feeling that everything around you is crumbling.
“This is so much more of a negative and depressive feeling. Again, very normal, valid and nothing we should look down on.
“I think this is a big challenge that we face in our community. We need to make people more okay with self-help, more vulnerable talking about mental health and more open to seeking therapy.
“It’s really important in our life that we’re okay with allowing each other to express that we all have highs and lows.
“Like I mentioned when I left the ashram, for me, that was a really low point in my life, in my esteem and feeling depressed.
“I think it’s scary to voice that sometimes because you think, ‘People will think I’m weak or I’m not strong’.”
“That’s probably the biggest thing about the pandemic realising that being able to share how you feel is probably going to help you get out of it more than keeping it pent-up inside of yourself.”
Addressing the difference between the older generation with the present generation, Jay Shetty explains:
“I think there are two sides to it. There’s such resilience in a lot of Asian communities.
“I know my parents have been through so much to give me the life and opportunity I had growing up in London.
“They’ve been through so much sacrifice and pain. They had so much resilience about it, I don’t think anyone asked them how they felt.
“No one stopped to say, ‘Are you working too hard? Are you taking care of your mental health?’
“It’s almost like we have to be the generation that asks them that, ourselves that and our children that.
“They never had parents who asked them that, friends or family who asked them.
“So rather than pointing figures at our parents, we have to be the generation to do that. I think we can be the shifting generation.”
Speaking about the pressures faced while growing up, Jay said:
“I felt that pressure in my own way whether it was extended family or friends. Growing up in London, I was constantly in a competitive school. I definitely felt that pressure.
“For me to grow up and become a monk, everyone was like, ‘You have committed career suicide.’
“The feedback I got from everyone was, ‘You realise you will never get your life back on track again. This is crazy.’
“The feedback I got was really negative so to go and become a monk and then when coming back after three years everyone was like, ‘You failed at being a monk, what are you going to do now?’
“It was almost like I had proved everyone right. So, I felt so much anxiety and pressure that I felt maybe I am going to fail at life.
“I made this big decision and it didn’t work out. Then I got into a steady cooperate job. I almost started to tick all the boxes of what traditionally would have been.
“Then I had another crazy idea that I wanted to start creating content online to share these messages.
“And the same thing happened. People were like, ‘You realise you’re getting married next year, this is not a viable career.’
“As I started making that transition, I started to realise that I had to take the risk and take the belief and confidence in myself.
“Even sometimes when I didn’t feel it, I had to work really hard.
“But all I can say is that if somethings align with your purpose, talents and skills and you’re willing to give it everything you’ve got then you’re going to be happy no matter what.
“Most people, in the beginning, are not going to understand you because it’s also scary for them when someone breaks the mould.
“Whatever it is you want to do just don’t wait for someone to say, ‘Yes, that’s what you should do that’s the right way to do it.’
“That probably will never happen. And people only kind of believe you after you’ve taken a few steps.”
What is the real meaning of life?
“There’s a beautiful statement from Picasso. He said, ‘The meaning of life is to find your gift and the purpose of life is to give it away.’
“In the book, Think Like A Monk, I’ve broken the book down into, ‘Let Go’, ‘Grow’ and ‘Give’.
“I think the goal of life or the meaning of life is to discover your talents, skills and passion and not just stop there.”
“But use that in the service of other people. To offer that in a way that changes someone else’s life.
“If you’re a photographer take pictures that transform the stories of people’s lives.
“Any occupation, skill and talent can have a positive impact on people’s lives.”
Difference between success and happiness
“In the book, I talk about two parts: success and happiness. I think of them as two separate pursuits.
“I think the biggest issue is that we see them as correlated. We think, ‘If I’m successful, I’m happy.’
“Or we think, ‘If I’m happy, I’ll be successful.’ The truth is they’re not connected in any way.
“Success is money, power, control, wealth and awards make you feel successful.
“But that’s not going to make you feel purposeful or joyful. The purpose of happiness is all about how you feel about what you do and what you’re offering in the world and think about yourself.
“That is where happiness comes in. So, for me, I see them as two separate things. I realise what I need to do to feel purposeful may not make me successful.
“Stop trying to get them to mix and affect each other. You need to figure out what you want and redefine these words for yourself.”
What impact would you want to see in the world?
“I think I would just be really happy to see a world that is more compassionate, non-judgemental and responsible for growth. That includes me too.
“I think that’s going to happen through entertainment and education working together.
“I imagine and visualise a world where every piece of content, whether its TV, films, social media whatever genre if it was made from a space of wanting to serve and help people.
“It could be hilarious, tragic, dramatic whatever you want it to be but it was created with the intention that this is going to improve someone’s life.
“I look forward to that world because I really believe entertainment and education have the biggest role to play in helping everyone.”
Tell us about your three E’s
“The three E’s are element, energy and environment. In the book, I talk about how you can find your element.
“Your element is your natural potential your passion when you feel when you’re in the zone.
“You see it in spoken word artists, in musicians, rappers and dancers.
“The second is energy. It is about what type of energy you thrive in. Do you want fast-paced energy?
“Are you someone who likes to work a bit slower and patiently? Are you someone who wants to be surrounded by people or alone?
“It is really important to understand the energy of people you like to have around you.
“Sometimes we think, ‘Maybe I’m not strong enough because I don’t flourish around people. Or maybe I have a weakness because I can’t keep up with them.’
“Everyone’s different and it’s really important to know your energy.”
“The final is the environment. Do you work best in a noisy and busy environment? Or do you prefer the countryside?
“So, when you ask yourself these questions you start to see where you’re most productive, effective and in your element.
“As opposed to trying to fit into everyone else’s expectation of energy, element and environment.
“My element is that I am someone who loves to study and share. My energy is that I love working alone because I am quite an introvert in my personal life.
“I can be alone with books and meditate for days. It’s my way of functioning.
“I like environments that balance out my high energy. I can be quite focused and intense so I like being in environments that help me feel more grounded.”
Watch Jay Shetty’s interview here
In ‘Think Like A Monk’, Jay Shetty proves that everyone can and ultimately should think like a monk.
Through the inspiring book, Jay Shetty helps you achieve the following:
- Train your mind for peace and purpose every day
- Learn to stop living based on people’s opinions and start living on your terms
- Remove negativity and overcome toxic relationships and habits
- Heal your anxiety, fear and pain from the past
- Uncover your true passion and purpose
- Create effective morning and evening routines that transform your daily habits
- Stop overthinking and procrastinating and train your mind to focus
- Put aside your ego to clear the path to success
- Develop an impactful gratitude practice that goes deeper than a list
- Find and develop true compatibility in relationships
To purchase a copy of ‘Think Like A Monk: Train Your Mind for Peace and Purpose Every Day’ click here.