Does anxiety loom around every corner of your day? Are you ready to take back the time and energy it steals from you? In this ON Purpose episode, Jay Shetty is joined by Glennon Doyle to dive into what's happening in society, activism, and purpose.
Shetty explained that his goal in sharing his book, Think Like a Monk, Train Your Mind for Peace and Purpose Every Day, is not to make people passive but to make people more active with deeper intention. You can still be peaceful, compassionate, and purpose-driven, without passiveness.
In a nation where there is such a state of trauma, fear and anxiety, fight or flight has become the conditioned response. Shetty shared the techniques for dealing with fear and anxiety that he acquired in his years spent living as a monk.
Life as a Monk
Born and raised in London, Jay Shetty never imagined himself to be on a spiritual path. People surrounded him who wanted to do well and succeed. While most people followed a familiar path, Shetty met a monk at eighteen that fascinated him, altering the path that Shetty decided to take.
Jay Shetty admitted to Doyle that he had a slight arrogance and cynicism around what he thought he could learn from a monk. Shetty was fascinated by people who experience sacrifice and pain to break through to do something great in life. In his opinion, monks had not done anything. They didn’t have anything. They didn’t suffer pain and sacrifice to be something great. Shetty agreed to attend the event where the monk was speaking, but he wasn’t excited about it.
That night was one of the most humbling moments in Jay Shetty’s life. He attended the event with zero expectations but left the event feeling he had gained everything he had been looking for in life.
“That moment just completely changed the trajectory of my life,” Jay Shetty explained to Doyle. “When I was eighteen, I met rich people. I met famous people. I met people who are beautiful and attractive. I met knowledgeable and intellectual people, but I don't think I'd ever met anyone genuinely joyful. That's what the monk had. He had an aura of purpose, meaning, and fulfillment in his life. It wasn't like this sparkly, halo-like energy. He just had it in himself, in his presence.”
Inspired by his encounter with the monk, Jay Shetty began to intern with the monks in the summers. He spent half the summer with the monks and half interning at a finance company in London. Despite facing backlash from some family and friends, after Shetty graduated from college, he turned down the chance of a big city office job to go live as a monk for three years. Becoming a monk at twenty-two was not considered to be a cool choice.
“I had 99.9% of the people in my life saying, ‘You've wasted your life. You've wasted all your parents’ support, your education was a waste of time’” Jay Shetty told Doyle. “I heard all this noise. People said, ‘You’ll never get a job again. You’ll never make money again. You’ve just been brainwashed.’”
Jay Shetty credits his parents’ support and the freedom they gave him to make his own decisions, along with his sister’s support in finding the ability and courage to make the life-changing decision to join the monkhood.
The Monk Mindset
For Jay Shetty, life as a monk was half of a day dedicated to self-realization, working on self-mastery, self-actualization, and time dedicated to self, followed by a half-day of service to others. The monks fed the homeless, built villages, and served others in whatever way that was needed to make a difference. They trained in the understanding that the quality of service is the quality of their sadhana, or daily practice, and purification.
“So what we were made to understand is that if you run around trying to give water to everyone in the world, but the well that you're getting water from is muddy, then you're spreading more disease and more pain in the world,” Jay Shetty explains to Doyle. “But if you're daily purifying, and cleansing and giving that pure and cleansed water from that day, then we can heal the whole world.”
Trying to live life through others can muddy the water in your life. When you make a daily commitment to live each day working on self-mastery and purifying your intentions, it allows you to be the best ambassador and advocate for the service you seek. It is not just a destination, but an ongoing daily practice to apply to your life.
“There is no point where you say, now I have solved myself. Now I can serve. It's actually in the service you go deeper in your own self-practice,” Jay Shetty explained. “As you go deeper in your self-practice, you go deeper into service. It’s a symbiotic relationship. We shouldn't wait to feel complete before we give, because then we'll never give. At the same time, we shouldn't give without trying to cleanse because we're not giving anything of value. And so it's always both.”
No one is perfect, but people like to project perfection onto others. As Shetty says, we’ve built a culture where people have become perfect in their imperfection while trying to say they are not perfect. Ongoing work within yourself will allow you to improve and serve as a reminder of how much you can learn and grow.
“I think that's a beautiful goal, to give yourself a little slice of what you are trying to provide for the world, your children, your partners, your friends. It's so beautiful,” Glennon Doyle said to Jay Shetty.
Jay Shetty agreed, explaining that what inspires him is people being inspiring and people with joy. While living life as a monk in a modern world is not easily sustainable for most people, thinking like a monk is something that everyone can apply to their daily lives.
Some of the world’s most significant change-makers are driven by love and compassion, but the world we live in is filled with anger and rage. Sometimes love can look like pain when it is rooted in a cry for justice. This is a subject Glennon Doyle dives into in her best-selling book, Love Warrior.
The outpouring of pain is a direct reflection of love. Love demands justice and equality. Love supports goodness and hope. There are times when love and pain are intermingled to become a powerful voice. Love demands difference – that is what it means to be a love warrior.
“Battle is tiring,” Jay Shetty told Doyle. “Love can keep you going in battle. That’s why I think love warriors is the perfect name for it. It's brilliant. We can keep figuring it out and keep changing paths.”
Love is the most sustainable emotion we possess. Finding purpose and meaning in your actions motivates you to keep pushing through the pressure and stress in life when you are fighting for something bigger than yourself. Anger will run out of steam, but love is the motivation behind why people continue to fight for their beliefs.
Dealing with Anxiety
Anxiety daily affects nearly forty million adults in the United States. Anxiety does not discriminate and can manifest in many different ways. There are two different types of anxiety: existential and situational.
- Existential anxiety is deeply rooted in you. It stems from relationships growing up, upbringing, and situations that you need to heal from and go through.
- Situational Anxiety is caused by the moment to moment triggers that happen in a day.
Often underestimated, our senses play an influential role in how we feel. Starting your day with positivity, a prayer you enjoy, a quote you love, or a picture of people you care about can positively impact how the remainder of your day goes. Starting the day with social media, the news, negativity, and outside noise leaves you trying to get back to a happy place before you even begin your day.
“The biggest focus for anxiety is don't start your day with anxiety,” Jay Shetty explained.
An efficient grounding and centering practice used by numerous psychologists and therapists is called the 5-4-3-2-1 Technique and can be applied when you feel anxiety throughout the day.
Five things you can see
Four things you can touch
Three things you can hear
Two things you can smell
One thing that you can taste
“If you're feeling anxious, what's happening is that your energy is all in your mind,” Jay Shetty explained to Doyle. “It's all in your head. So when you get back into your physical space, I'm touching this and touching my shorts, and I'm touching this desk, I'm touching this phone, I'm looking at the sky, I'm looking at the tree. When you do that, you come back to your physical space. You’re getting out of your head.”
When you find yourself in a stressful meeting, a high paced day, or a situation that is causing anxiety, take time out to realign your body and breath. Anxiety comes from the body and mind being out of alignment.
“The way you bring your body and mind back into alignment is by being here and saying, ‘I am here, I'm present,’” Jay Shetty told Doyle. “Then when you breathe in for a count of four, out for a count of four, and you count in your mind with your breath, and you breathe out and count again. You're aligning your mind and your body.”
You can use your senses to help recenter you throughout the day, diffuse your favorite scent, listen to calming music, and create a space that radiates peace and calming vibes for you.
A life of peace and purpose does not mean that life is perfectly balanced. Some days, you are heavy on the purpose side of things, and then there are times when you find more peace. Every day is not like clockwork. Continue to put the work in and show up for yourself. When you embody the monk mindset, learn how to evaluate your emotions, and apply techniques to cope with life’s stress and anxiety, you will find yourself feeling more centered throughout your day.
More From Jay Shetty
Listen to the entire On Purpose with Jay Shetty podcast episode with Glennon Doyle on “Techniques to Cope with Anxiety and Feel Centered in Your Day” now in the iTunes store or on Spotify. For more inspirational stories and messages like this, check out Jay’s website at jayshetty. me.