Think Like a Monk: Train Your Mind for Peace and Purpose Every Day

Jay Shetty is a storyteller, podcaster, and former monk. He is on a mission to share the timeless wisdom of the world in an accessible, relevant, and practical way. Shetty has created over 400 viral videos with over 5 billion views, and hosts the #1 Health and Wellness podcast in the world, On Purpose.

Below, Jay shares 5 key insights from his new book, Think Like a Monk: Train Your Mind for Peace and Purpose Every Day. Download the Next Big Idea App to enjoy more audio “Book Bites,” plus Ideas of the Day, ad-free podcast episodes, and more.

Next Big Idea Club · Think Like a Monk: Train Your Mind for Peace and Purpose Every Day

1. Understand your identity.

Think about what you’re pursuing in life; is that what you truly want, or has that goal been impacted by society and the expectations of others? The writer Charles Horton Cooley once said, “I am not what I think I am. I’m not what you think I am. I am what I think you think I am.” In other words, we generate our lives according to what we think people think we should do. So to truly understand our identity, we have to reflect on our goals and ask ourselves whether what we’re chasing is really aligned with who we are, or whether it has come from some external influence.

2. Minimize negativity.

We all experience negativity in our lives, and while we can’t control the people around us, we can often choose who we want to be around in the first place. This is an important quality of monk life, and it’s one of the reasons why monks have been shown to have the happiest brains on the planet. This idea is nicely wrapped up in the 25/75 principle—25% of the time, we may be around people that drag us down, but why not spend the other 75% of our time with people who pull us up?

“How can you use your passion and strengths to make other people’s lives better?”

3. Find your purpose.

Purpose equals passion plus strengths plus compassion. If you don’t know what you’re passionate about, start with what you’re curious about. What is it that you love reading about, that gets you excited and enthusiastic? (If you don’t know, ask the people around you.) But passion alone isn’t enough—strengths are important, too. And the mistake we often make is trying to gain the strengths of others. Albert Einstein once said, “If you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will spend its whole life believing that it is stupid.” So don’t forget your own unique strengths. The final part of purpose is compassion: How can you use your passion and strengths to make other people’s lives better? We can do incredible things when we use our passion and strengths compassionately.

4. Slow down.

“Slow down” doesn’t mean “achieve less,” or “be less ambitious.” It just means doing everything with clarity and at the right pace. When we’re rushing, we’re not able to be our best selves; being slow, on the other hand, is about starting off with stillness and silence. For 80% of us, our phone is the first thing we look at in the morning and the last thing we look at at night. How can we change that to be a quote that we love? Maybe it’s a song, or a paragraph from a book. Maybe it’s an idea that we just sit with for five minutes, to create a sense of stillness and calm before we take on the chaos of the day.

5. Make time for T-I-M-E.

This acronym represents a few habits that can help set our foundation for the day. The T stands for Thankfulness. If you can express gratitude to just one person a day, you will see a boost in your mood, a deepening of that relationship, and more. Next is the letter I, which is Inspiration. It’s important to find a daily activity that keeps you inspired, perhaps a walk with a podcast or reading a book you love. Then the third one is Meditation. From billionaire Ray Dalio to the late Kobe Bryant, meditation is a key habit for many of the world’s most successful people; it’s a great way to bring yourself into the present moment. And the fourth and final part of the acronym is the letter E, Exercise. Whether it’s a workout at the gym, getting your 10,000 steps, or even an impromptu dance party, it’s so important to move throughout the day.

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