In the exciting episode of “On Purpose,” Jay Shetty shares a fascinating perspective on mastering our minds through ancient practices known as the monk mindset.
There have been many studies that looked into what makes monks’ brains special. They concluded that monks can control their minds better due to regular meditation practices.
Harnessing the Monk Mindset for Resilience
Jay Shetty highlights an intriguing story about a monk named Yungay Mingyur Rinpoche. He showcased exceptional control over his mind, effortlessly entering and exiting meditative states. “Whenever they gave the monk the signal to start a meditation cycle, his brain immediately went into meditation mode,” Jay says. This phenomenon, which Jay calls the “monk switch,” encapsulates the great mental control developed through traditional monastic practices.
This monk was not unique, Jay explains; he was living the everyday life of a monk. Numerous studies have shown the same results with long-term monks – an astonishing degree of mental control, whether in focus, compassion, or indicators of happiness.1
Jay Shetty introduces the concept of “monk switching,” a practice that allows individuals to tap into a resilient mindset in the face of challenges. He provides an illustrative example with ZocDoc, an online medical appointment service. When bookings fell by 50-90%, instead of laying off staff, the company built and launched a successful telehealth platform. Jay describes this as “one of the greatest monk switches out there.” In adversity, they saw an opportunity – an example of ‘grateful living,’ a concept shared by Monk David Steindl-Ross.
Neuroscience of Resilience
Jay Shetty places significant emphasis on the power of gratitude. He quotes Monk David Steindl-Ross saying, “When you receive every moment as a gift, you ask yourself, ‘What’s the opportunity in this moment?'” It is about finding the potential hidden in every challenge.
Moreover, he introduces the insights of Dr. Andrew Huberman, a professor in the Department of Neurobiology at Stanford University. Huberman’s research focuses on brain plasticity and resilience, asserting how we perceive and manage stress largely determines our ability to cope.
“Neurologically, it’s only really in conditions of discomfort that we can train our brains to learn to thrive from stress and become more resilient,” Jay Shetty shares. This statement underscores the value of adopting a growth mindset and using stress as a trigger for self-improvement.
As Jay reveals these profound ideas, he invites the listeners to explore their minds. By embracing the monk mindset, you can reshape your perspective, tackle your fears head-on, and develop greater resilience.
Jay Shetty discusses a formula for personal growth, learning, and resilience. He emphasized the importance of setting clear intentions, maintaining focus, and fostering motivation. He explains that these three elements must be applied continuously and paired with rest periods for effective results.
- Setting Clear Intentions
Jay describes setting clear intentions as essential to learning and growth. He stresses that having a clear goal or direction is the first step in achieving high performance. Drawing on the lifestyle of monks, he presents an interesting perspective on how intentions should be set. He suggests aligning goals with one’s values, with deep-rooted intentions serving as a guide to achieving success.
Jay Shetty encourages listeners to continually ask “why” when planning to enhance self-awareness and ensure that the intent aligns with inner values rather than surface-level pursuits. This constant questioning can lead to a more profound understanding of the self and helps in focusing on the task at hand.
- Harnessing Focus
According to Jay, focus is a fundamental element in the learning process. He states that progress becomes a challenge without the ability to concentrate fully on a task and maintain that focus. From a monk’s perspective, the focus is cultivated through mindfulness, which he describes as noticing the present moment without judgment.
Jay Shetty suggests a practice to cultivate mindfulness: sit comfortably, breathe deeply, and acknowledge thoughts without judgment, then let them go, returning focus to the present moment. He underscores that acknowledging distractions and releasing them can enhance focus. Jay shares a quote from essayist and novelist Pico Iyer, which encapsulates this concept: “In an age of distraction, nothing can feel more luxurious than paying attention.”
- Motivation and Its Role
Motivation is the third crucial component in Jay’s formula for growth. He refers to Hindu philosopher Thakur’s theory of four fundamental motivations: fear, desire, duty, and love. Fear and desire, he argues, have limitations as long-term motivators. Fear exhausts us and impedes creativity. Yearning for personal gratification leads to constantly needing more to maintain satisfaction.
On the other hand, Jay Shetty praises duty and love as sustainable motivations. He says these forms of motivation create meaning and help us to see beyond immediate gratification. When our actions are motivated by love, such as helping others, a passion for learning, or by duty, like supporting our families, we are driven to keep striving and growing.
A Life of Service
In addition to the three components mentioned above, Jay introduces the concept of service as a powerful motivator. He presents service as a ‘hack’ to stimulate growth and resilience, stating that when work or goals are tied to the love and service of others, it can spur us on. This stems from the idea that service boosts our self-esteem, creates connections with others, and is inherently rewarding. Ultimately, the satisfaction derived from service can motivate us to keep working and serving, fostering a cycle of continued effort and growth.
Monks devote their lives to two significant focus areas, the self, and the not-self. Their days are divided between personal development through meditation and learning and selfless service to others. According to Jay Shetty, service is highly regarded, profoundly motivating him. His suggestion is to ‘monk switch’ your work from total self-focus to benefit as much as possible. Serving your family, community, or company can instill feelings of motivation, direction, and energy. It can create a real impact, especially when everything else collapses around you. The understanding here is that positive emotions will follow these actions.
Creating a Supportive Environment
Jay Shetty shares a monk tip for incorporating a sense of ashram-like peace into everyday life. The key is to create an environment that supports your growth and reduces anxiety. This can be achieved by paying attention to the three S’s of your environment: sights, sounds, and smells.
- Sights for Personal Growth
Jay suggests controlling what you see, particularly first thing in the morning. He mentions the habit of many people starting and ending their day by checking their phones, which often leads to feelings of agitation, negativity, and loneliness.
Jay recommends limiting this interaction as much as possible and instead surrounding yourself with inspiring visuals such as motivational quotes or beautiful images. Monk training, he jokes, would be far more challenging if monks had smartphones.
- The Power of Scents
The second ‘S’ scent has a potent link to memory and can evoke strong emotions. Jay Shetty recommends exposing yourself to scents you enjoy or calming or energizing you as needed. Personal favorites of his include lavender, eucalyptus, and sandalwood.
- Sounds to Support Your Peace
The final ‘S’ sounds. Jay explains the concept of cognitive load, which refers to unnecessary mental tasks that use up your brain’s energy. To reduce cognitive load, he suggests controlling the sounds around you. Having the news on in the background or being surrounded by constant chatter can make it hard to find stillness and positivity.
Final Call to Action
Jay Shetty concludes his podcast episode with a challenge for the listeners: list 15 opportunities in your life right now. This exercise is intended to stretch your perspective and encourage creativity. From these opportunities, choose one goal to pursue that aligns with the resilient, powerful version of yourself. Jay Shetty assures listeners they have a science- and monk-tested formula to make it happen.
More From Jay Shetty
Listen to the entire On Purpose with Jay Shetty podcast episode on “6 Ways To Transform A Negative Mindset & How to Overcome Fear and Anxiety” now in the iTunes store or on Spotify. For more inspirational stories and messages like this, check out Jay’s website at jayshetty.me.
1Dingfelder, S. F. (2003, December 1). Tibetan Buddhism and research psychology: A match made in Nirvana? Monitor on Psychology, 34(11). https://www.apa.org/monitor/dec03/tibetan