Learn / Elevate Your Life: Jay Shetty’s 10 Ways to Think Like a Monk

Elevate Your Life: Jay Shetty’s 10 Ways to Think Like a Monk

Grace Ogren
 March 5th, 2024|   Clinically Reviewed by 
Dr. Malasri Chaudhery-Malgeri, Ph.D.

Key Points

  • Jay Shetty left a lucrative corporate career to live like a monk.
  • He returned home and wrote this book to help everyone benefit from a monk mindset.
  • See the top 10 takeaways from his bestselling book.

Jay Shetty, now an author and purpose coach, lived as a monk for 3 years. He left a steady (but empty) corporate job to pursue a monk’s fulfilling, mindful life. He spent three years learning, serving, and unlocking new ways to live. After returning to his prior life, Shetty found many others desperately needed what he learned as a monk.

Shetty’s personal growth and newfound purpose fueled his desire to help others think like monks. He found that everyone—corporate CEOs, celebrities, and layfolk alike—could change the way they see the world, themselves, and their loved ones. This would lead to a new, intentional way of living that creates greater joy and purpose. 

We’ll explore 10 key takeaways from Jay Shetty’s Think Like a Monk (a #1 New York Times Bestseller) you can use to improve your life. 

Takeaway #1: Audit Your Time

Jay Shetty begins his book with an appeal to audit your time and see where you’re spending it. He points out how easy it is to spend fruitless hours on social media, watching television, or consuming other forms of media. Spending too much time steeped in others’ opinions and lives can make it hard to figure out your own.

Other pursuits can take up too much time, too. After considering where and how you spend your time, you may notice a disproportionate bulk of it is spent on work. Or, you may spend too much time “putzing”. It’s easy to misplace time, but when it’s optimized and audited, Shetty found it’s more than possible to spend it on things that actually make you well and fulfilled. 

Takeaway #2: Live Intentionally and Consciously

Jay Shetty found intentionality to be one of the core aspects of a monk’s mindset. Monks spoke intentionally, reflected and meditated intentionally, and made intentional decisions. To do that, they had to also be aware of themselves, their emotions, and the impacts those and their choices would have. 

If they did something or even ate something, a monk would know the driving force behind it and why they were driven to that point. These 2 aspects, intention and awareness, help monks and others feel more present and confident in life’s big and small parts. 

Takeaway #3: Stay Disciplined

Shetty learned discipline as a monk and how staying disciplined helped him achieve goals and find mental wellness. He and other monks would follow strict schedules and regimes, like meditation for hours straight and fasting. Shetty found he could mirror this discipline in all other areas of his life, which made goals more achievable.

For example, you could set daily schedules for yourself or time limits for certain activities. If you need to get a project done, block off time on your calendar and mute your phone. Stay focused for the time you set, including breaks in the schedule as needed. 

Takeaway #4: Prioritize Self-Control

To quote Shetty, “We are not our minds.” Prioritizing self-control allowed him and other monks to live unbound by emotions, desires, and impulses. Rather than being governed by thoughts, Shetty worked to control how he thought and the behaviors connected to them. 

Self-control also helps break the pattern of procrastination. Knowing you need to get something done can be all you need to get something done, rather than letting yourself procrastinate or come up with excuses. 

Takeaway #5: Focus on Long-Term Gains

Much of what Jay Shetty learned, including the life-changing benefits of monk life, didn’t appear right away. Part of what got him through hunger, cold, and exhaustion were the long-term gains waiting at the end. He found this future vision applicable in and out of monk life.

Setting goals or creating an ideal for yourself, your relationships, or your career is easy. But staying committed can feel much harder. That’s why Shetty focuses on long-term gains as a way to keep the end goal in sight, stay motivated, and keep working hard. 

Takeaway #6: Practice Single-Tasking

Single-tasking helps you stay present. Jay Shetty points out 98% of people can’t multitask, or at least not well. Single-tasking, as opposed to multi-tasking, allows you to deeply focus on one thing at a time, rather than hopping from task to task. 

Shetty makes this easier for himself by staying off his phone during work, having “no tech” zones in his house, and practicing mindfulness when he completes mundane tasks, like showering. Focusing only on the task at hand allows him to experience it deeply and focus his attention elsewhere only as needed.

Single-tasking may be an adjustment, but it can slowly develop into a habit and teach your brain to notice and appreciate the small things mindfully. 

Takeaway #7: Remain in Gratitude

Jay Shetty highlights the intersection of gratitude and kindness. He and other monks remained in a near-constant state of gratitude, finding small things to appreciate every moment. And since gratitude can make you happier1, Shetty and his peers could feel content and happy even in situations most of us may see as bleak. Gratitude can make you more appreciative of all your small gifts, like warm food, a place to sleep, and having people you love.

Expressing gratitude towards others inspires kindness and more gratitude, which keeps feeding the cycle. This cycle in your relationships can make them healthier and happier, whether with a loved one, peer, boss, or coworker.

Takeaway #8: Manage Your Ego

Shetty found ego, or thinking too highly of yourself, isolates and hinders growth. Judgment coincides with ego and can make us overly conscious of other people’s opinions and focus too much on how we might be better than another. Ego can prevent open-mindedness, hampering growth.

As a monk, Shetty took on mundane tasks and chores to keep his temple running, like peeling potatoes or cleaning up after animals. Wisdom helped him realize his own ego got in the way of enjoying these tasks and reaping their benefits. Humility, he found, worked as an elixir for ego and allowed him to gain the rewards of an open mind. 

Takeaway #9: Adjust Your Perspective

Little issues can feel huge, affecting your well-being more than the issue deserves. Jay Shetty found it helpful to keep a clear perspective and adjust your worries and stresses accordingly. He encourages making a scale from 1-10, with 1 being a non-issue and 10 being devastating (like losing a loved one). Think about this:

  • Where does rejection or getting stuck in traffic fall on the scale? Based on where they fall, how should it affect you?

Takeaway #10: Live to Serve

Jay Shetty says, “The highest purpose is to live in service.” Why? In short, Shetty learned that self-lessness heals the self. Shetty acknowledges it can be hard to think about others when it seems like we need so much healing ourselves. But his time as a monk proved he didn’t need to be perfect to start helping others. 

Serving can look like many things. You may give others your time, money, food, clothing, or share the roof over your head. Hosting a dinner, for example, allows you to give others many forms of happiness—food, time, and someplace safe to gather. You could also donate money to a charity of your choice, volunteer your time at non-profits, or act with confidentiality when someone confides in you about their joys and sorrows. This gives your friends a person they can deeply trust.

Some monks practice this by owning no material possessions, but as Shetty points out, that likely won’t work for everyone. How you use your possessions aligns with a life of service. 

How You Think Like a Monk Is Up to You

Whatever takeaways speak to you most, any and all can lead you down a path to greater joy. Insights from the book have inspired thousands worldwide, helping them break free from unhealthy thought patterns and baseless stress holding them back. 

You can learn more about Think Like a Monk and where to buy it by going to Jay Shetty’s website.

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