In this On Purpose episode, Dr. Rangan Chatterjee interviews Jay Shetty about his book, Think Like A Monk.
They delve into training the mind and how it often goes unnoticed in society.
Train Your Mind
Growing up in England, Jay Shetty observed a focus on physical activities and sports but no corresponding emphasis on nurturing the mind. Even as people mature, the education system doesn’t prioritize mental training. In his view, humans have developed a fascination for the external environment but have yet to explore their inner space.
Monks are the true experts who have devoted their lives to mastering the mind. Scientific studies reveal monks possess the highest form of gamma waves in their brains, associated with happiness, attention, and focus.1
Jay Shetty is convinced that thinking like a monk is accessible to everyone, regardless of background or location. It is a matter of learning and implementing the principles and practices that monks have honed over time. He believes anyone can benefit from training their mind and adopting a monk-like mindset.
Change Comes Unexpectedly
An MIT study compared two groups: one surrounded by people who knew each other, and the other exposed to individuals without connections to their existing network.2 The results revealed that those interacting with diverse and unfamiliar perspectives were more creative, innovative, and impactful in their professional and personal lives.
In his early years, despite his young age, Shetty was surrounded by friends who seemed to have everything yet still felt unsatisfied. This contradiction intrigued him, leading him to attend a monk’s speech with initially dismissive expectations. Yet the monk’s contentment, compassion, and genuine happiness profoundly impacted him. It sparked Jay’s desire to learn more and understand the monk’s perspective on life.
In his book, Jay Shetty has taken the teachings, lessons, and principles from his experience but made them relevant and practical for modern life. The aim is to empower individuals to think like monks, regardless of their circumstances. Jay’s realization that happiness transcends external achievements and material possessions propelled him to question the meaning of life and share his insights with others.
Dr. Rangan Chatterjee reflects on the influence of childhood and societal expectations on career choices. Being a doctor was a natural progression for him due to his upbringing and the impact of his parents’ friends. However, he has observed that many medical professionals feel discontented despite their apparent success. He realizes the importance of understanding what makes people happy, including himself.
Jay Shetty shared his own pivotal experience at the age of 18 when he attended a talk by a monk. He admits that he initially approached it with arrogance and skepticism but made one of his best decisions in life. He feels grateful for encountering the monk’s teachings and their transformative impact on his life.
Meeting the right people and being open to new experiences can expand one’s perspective. Living in bubbles may be limiting, yet seeking alternative ideas and practices can enrich one’s life. Jay Shetty’s book, Think Like a Monk, aims to inspire individuals to explore different paths and cultivate a mindset beyond societal norms.
It is essential to stay curious and open-minded in a society where people are often stuck in their narrow viewpoints and quick to judge others. We need to listen to different ideas and perspectives, encouraging curiosity as a catalyst for personal growth.
Find Your True Self
Dr. Rangan Chatterjee and Jay Shetty shed light on the pervasive tendency to seek validation from others and anchor our self-worth in their perceptions of us. Jay believes that values are a crucial starting point for self-discovery. He recommends examining how we allocate our financial resources and time to discern priorities.
Jay suggests scrutinizing our bank statements and observing where our money is spent to uncover our values. He highlights that, according to research, individuals who lead meaningful, purposeful lives and enjoy greater well-being and success tend to prioritize education over entertainment.3
Jay Shetty presents a three-step approach to help individuals reassess their pursuits and goals:
- Identify three things you are currently striving for.
- Question whether these desires stem from your dreams or external influences.
- Inquire whether you still wish to pursue those goals or want to alter your approach or abandon them altogether.
By engaging in this thoughtful questioning, you can unearth your true passions and ambitions while avoiding chasing goals that don’t align with your authentic selves. Jay Shetty encourages the listeners to embark on a journey of self-discovery. Live a life shaped by your desires rather than the expectations and judgments of others.
Living In Alignment With Your Values
In their discussion, Dr. Rangan Chatterjee and Jay Shetty highlight society’s current dissatisfaction and lack of contentment, emphasizing personal transformation. Jay Shetty explains the concept of a “value audit,” meaning assessing one’s priorities. He emphasizes the significance of evaluating how individuals spend their time and money to determine if they truly live according to their values.
People often perceive themselves in a more positive light than their actions reflect, leading to a discrepancy between intention and behavior. Therefore, conducting a values audit is daunting but essential to realign one’s priorities and move in the right direction.
Jay Shetty suggests treating the values audit as a gardening exercise that requires regular attention. Just as a garden needs maintenance to prevent weeds from overpowering desired plants, values need consistent nurturing. He practices mindfulness thrice a week to refine his values and intentions.
Jay recommends a monthly review of values with an annual deep dive for better integration into one’s life. Individuals can uproot negative influences, plant positive values, and lead more meaningful lives by conducting a values audit.
Our self-talk and how we express ourselves influence our mindset and impact those around us. Words and thoughts play a significant role in shaping our reality. Therefore, Jay Shetty and Dr. Chatterjee advocate being mindful of negative self-talk and avoiding defining ourselves based on temporary emotions or experiences. Then, separate yourself from negative habits and beliefs and focus on positive change.
Jay Shetty shares the concept of emotional vocabulary, which involves expanding our range of words to express emotions accurately. By identifying and articulating our feelings, we can communicate effectively with others and better understand ourselves.
Childhood experiences significantly impact our beliefs and behaviors, particularly in relationships. Attachment styles, such as avoidant, secure, and anxious, are formed based on the love and attention received from parents or caregivers. Awareness of these patterns allows individuals to develop emotional skills and break negative cycles.
Communication Is Key
Each individual has unique expectations and perceptions, often shaped by personal experiences and upbringing. However, problems arise when both parties need to communicate effectively and understand these expectations. This calls for open, honest dialogue to bridge the gap between differing perspectives.
Jay Shetty recalls how his wife surprised him with two parties, despite him not wanting such events. Hence, it is vital to understand and accommodate each other’s preferences, even if they differ from our own.
Love can sometimes be misinterpreted, as individuals may attach different meanings to the word. Misunderstandings and misalignments can occur without clarifying these definitions, leading to relationship issues.
Initially, Jay Shetty believed that grand gestures and extravagant dates were necessary for romance, only to realize that his wife valued simpler experiences like grocery shopping. Understanding and appreciating each other’s unique preferences is more valuable for a healthy relationship than conforming to societal ideals.
Therefore, Jay encourages the listeners to actively engage in open dialogue with their partners. Respect each other’s differences and work together to build a foundation of mutual understanding and happiness.
Jay Shetty emphasizes the importance of gratitude in all aspects of life, not just when things are going well. Individuals can approach life with a positive mindset and energy by finding meaning and lessons in difficult moments.
Being aware of societal influences can help us to break free from external expectations and live a life aligned with our true desires. Gratitude is a daily practice that expands beyond superficial thanks, allowing individuals to find meaning and growth in every aspect of their lives.
It is vital to cultivate the “muscle” of gratitude through regular practice rather than expecting instant results. There are three essential habits to put gratitude into practice:
- Express gratitude to a specific person daily. The experience becomes more meaningful and deepens the relationship by conveying appreciation directly to someone.
- Spend time in a place that elicits gratitude, even by reminiscing about past experiences.
- Acknowledge a project or endeavor in one’s life that sparks gratitude. Expressing gratitude is not limited to mere thoughts or feelings; it extends to taking action.
Dr. Chatterjee shares his practice of expressing gratitude through voice notes, finding it a powerful way to communicate appreciation. There is a transformative impact of genuine and specific gratitude, both for the giver and the recipient.
Ego vs. Gratitude
Insecurities and fears can hinder people from expressing gratitude. The ego can block gratitude by making individuals hesitant to acknowledge others’ positive actions, fearing it will diminish their worth. Therefore, people may also fear being perceived as insincere or manipulative when expressing gratitude.
Jay Shetty encourages genuine and well-explained gratitude, regardless of discomfort, emphasizing that the act benefits the giver. He highlights that the recipient’s reaction should not dictate one’s appreciation, as it is based on past actions, not future expectations.
Understanding that you cannot control others’ thoughts or reactions is crucial. Instead, focus on self-perception and aligning your behavior with personal values. Jay Shetty quotes Daisaku Ikeda, stating that building happiness on the unhappiness of others is impossible.
Moreover, Jay emphasizes the pitfalls of seeking superiority by making others feel inferior. He warns against relying on such unstable grounds for one’s identity.
The Illusion On Social Media
Dr. Chatterjee used to seek validation through competition and felt that his self-worth depended on being the best. He attributes this mindset to the pressure he experienced as a child to strive for perfection. However, he shares that he has let go of this need to be number one and found contentment over the past few years.
Social media can magnify insecurities for some individuals. People can become fixated on followers, likes, and comparisons, leading to discontentment. Jay Shetty believes that most creators, including himself, did not start with the goal of gaining followers. Instead, they began genuinely wanting to share something meaningful and impactful.
Jay Shetty explains that gaining followers is creating valuable content that genuinely helps people. Pursuing real impact and creating content that resonates with others is more fulfilling and worthwhile. He, therefore, encourages individuals to focus on their passion, skills, and compassion, as these aspects combine to create a sense of purpose.
Improve Your Life
Jay Shetty introduces the concept of the three S’s to achieve immediate life changes: sight, scent, and sound. As we underestimate the power of our senses, intentional changes in what we see, hear, and smell can positively influence our emotions and well-being.
He encourages individuals to start their day by looking at something that brings them joy—a favorite quote, a cherished picture, or a meaningful piece of art. You must intentionally design your surroundings’ sights to inspire and uplift you.
Scents can also impact our well-being, such as the calming effect of specific aromas like eucalyptus, lavender, and sandalwood. Jay Shetty recommends incorporating scents into different areas of our living spaces to create desired atmospheres.
Lastly, sound can influence our state of mind. Jay Shetty suggests listening to music that energizes or calms you or even nature sounds that resonate with your body and mind. By intentionally curating our environment’s sights, scents, and sounds, we can transform our feelings and enhance our overall well-being.
More From Jay Shetty
Listen to the entire On Purpose with Jay Shetty podcast episode on “2 Ways to Create Healthy Boundaries & Why You’re Wasting Your Time Trying to Change How Someone Thinks Of You” now in the iTunes store or on Spotify. For more inspirational stories and messages like this, check out Jay’s website at jayshetty.me.
1Lutz A, Greischar LL, Rawlings NB, Ricard M, Davidson RJ. Long-term meditators self-induce high-amplitude gamma synchrony during mental practice. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2004 Nov 16;101(46):16369-73. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0407401101. Epub 2004 Nov 8. PMID: 15534199; PMCID: PMC526201.
2Ely, Robin J., and David A. Thomas. “Cultural Diversity at Work: The Effects of Diversity Perspectives on Work Group Processes and Outcomes.” Administrative Science Quarterly 46, no. 2 (2001): 229–73. https://doi.org/10.2307/2667087.
3Brower, Tracy. “Learning Is A Sure Path To Happiness: Science Proves It.” Forbes (blog), October 17, 2021. https://www.forbes.com/sites/tracybrower/2021/10/17/learning-is-a-sure-path-to-happiness-science-proves-it/?sh=2aa70211768e.