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

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

by Jay Shetty

‘Think Like A Monk’ distills life coach Jay Shetty’s timeless wisdom into powerful and effective practical steps, to guide the readers through everyday life and help them in making small efficient changes, towards meaningful living. Shetty shares his personal journey of becoming and living as a monk, making this book an understandable and easy-to-follow read. 

This inspiring and empowering assortment of thoughts, ideas and experience will make you realize that anyone can think like a monk. It will help you clear the roadblocks to your true potential and purpose. 

Summary Notes

Identity: I Am What I Think

“I am not what I think I am, and I am not what you think I am. I am what I think you think I am.”

We all live in a world of constant judgment, and our identity is wrapped up in what others think of us. Therefore, most of our efforts in improving ourselves are attempts at improving that imagined ideal. 

The only way to build a meaningful life is to filter out ‘society's definition’ of happiness and look within. This is the first step in building a monk mindset: filter away the distractions. Remove external influences and see your true self, thus identifying the values that truly represent you. 

Our values are influenced by our education, upbringing, culture, etc. It is good to take away whatever feels valuable from all that learning and experience, but at the same time, it is equally important to step back and consider whether the values you carried from your past feel right to you.

Our values are also largely influenced by what we watch and absorb. Observing and evaluating what we consume is key to thinking like a monk. We do not like to sit alone with our thoughts, but this is an important process to create space for reflection.

Actions to take

Negativity

“We report the aches and pains of the day rather than the small joys”

Gossip might have value in some situations but mostly it is a method of bolstering our status by putting others down. Not only are you assaulted with negativity every day, but you also subject others to it when you judge them or criticize them. 

We have three core emotional needs: peace, love, and understanding. Negativity arises when one of our core needs is threatened. By adopting a victim mentality, we are more likely to behave selfishly and try to justify our wrong behavior. 

A negative outlook on life is contagious - the more negativity we absorb, the more we spread.

Manage and minimize your negative thoughts and anger. Don't base your choices and feelings on the behaviors of others. Revenge is ignorance. However, if you decide to tread on the path of forgiveness without expecting anything in return, it will conserve your energy and ease stress. It will ultimately contribute to your peace of mind.

Actions to take

Fear

“The longer we hold on to fears, the more they ferment until eventually, they become toxic”

Fear is a critical warning to help us survive true danger. But most of the time, this everyday fear holds us back in several ways. You need to let go of your fear. Fear is not the real problem. Fearing the wrong things is the issue. 

Due to this fear and stress, we unnecessarily spend a lot of time and energy in our comfort bubbles. When we stop perceiving fear as a negative thing, we can reap potential benefits from it and use it to our advantage.

Dealing with fear and hardship makes us realize that we are capable of facing challenges and overcoming them. To change our relationship with fear, we need to change the way we perceive it. We can try to see the value that fear offers. 

Fear is closely linked to the concept of attachment. The moment you start detaching yourself from the need to own and control things, you will find the cure to your fear.

Actions to take

Intention

“Money and mansions are not the only wealth. Hoard the wealth of the spirit”

We all have our respective set of tasks to accomplish throughout the day. Out of all the things that motivate us, duty and love are the most table.

Purpose and meaning in what we do leads to true contentment. As we upgrade from trying to fulfill our selfish needs to doing things out of service and love, we enable ourselves to achieve more.

Making intentionally big and small decisions is essential to success. Rather than focusing on what you want, think about why you want it. 

If you are attaching a good intention to a bad external goal that has no real meaning for you, it will never lead to a true sense of accomplishment. Plant the seed of good intention and live by it. Let it permeate your behaviour. 

Actions to take

Purpose

“Living in your dharma is a certain route to fulfillment”

We tend to think of many routine mundane chores as a waste of our valuable time. But our hatred for such things stems from an ego issue. Understanding and valuing the importance of time is essential but at the same time, we need to be flexible in life in order to truly learn and grow. One way of doing so is exploring our strengths and weaknesses.

Dharma refers to what you’re naturally good at. When you spend your time and energy living in your dharma, you have the satisfaction of using your best abilities and doing something that matters to the world.

It is equally important to trust others’ purpose as well. You don’t have to do everything, your limitations make space for the gifts of other people. Be careful enough to not confuse inexperience with weakness, and allow others to realise their dharma too.

Actions to take

Routine

“Between the alarm clock and the world inside your phone, you’re immediately overwhelmed with stress, pressure, anxiety”

The energy and mood of the morning carries through the day, so making life more meaningful begins there.

You can use the extra time you get by waking up early as time for yourself. Exercise, read the newspaper, make your own coffee, etc. 

Your morning is somewhat defined by the way you spend your evening. While each morning is a new beginning, our days circle on themselves. In order to wake up in the morning with intention, it is important to start that momentum by establishing a healthy, restful evening routine. This will bring intentionality to your entire day.

Actions to take

The Mind

“When the five senses and the mind are stilled, when the reasoning intellect rests in silence, then begins the highest path”

Our mind is like a jungle, where we constantly keep swinging between one thought and another, without resolving one at a time. This battle in our mind is waged over the smallest daily choices that we have to make. Visualising the mind as a separate entity will help you work on your relationship with it. 

There is a difference between the monkey mind and the monk mind. The former is like a child, the latter is an adult. When faced with a challenge, the monkey mind reacts immediately and impulsively. The monk mind, on the other hand, is like an intelligent parent. Striking the right balance between these two minds is a constant challenge.

The mind, the senses and the body are like a chariot. Our intellect is the charioteer, the senses are its horses and the mind are the reins. If the intellect is untrained and asleep, the horses will lead the reins wherever they like. 

Make your mind your friend, slow down and reframe your thoughts. Respond to your anxious thoughts with self-compassion. Stay in the present, don’t dwell in the past.

Actions to take

Ego

“It follows that the biggest obstacle to learning is being a know-it-all”

The false confidence of knowing everything is rooted in our ego. However, there is a difference between the ego and the false ego. Our ego is the consciousness that makes us awake to reality. Our false ego is an identity we ourselves have made up to preserve a sense of being important, significant and one who knows everything.

Our false ego harms us the most. We all put a lot of effort into polishing our image in front of others. We buy certain kinds of things, attend some events, etc, and convince ourselves that we are doing this for our own satisfaction.

In reality, if you are satisfied with who you are, there is actually no need to prove your worth to anyone else.

Due to our false ego, we do not listen to advice, we jump to conclusions and miss opportunities in life. When we assume we know everything, we are missing out on a potential learning opportunity. If you don’t break your ego, life will break it for you. 

It is important to detach from false ego and step outside of failure. Think of each failure as a humility anchor. Learn from it and restore your confidence in yourself. 

No matter how much you achieve, remember there is always more to be done. 

Actions to take

Gratitude: The World’s Most Powerful Drug

“Even if your life isn’t perfect, build your gratitude like a muscle. If you train it now, it will only strengthen over time.”

Being thankful can have measurable benefits. Gratitude is directly proportional to self-esteem. If people have been generous or kind towards us, that means they see us as worthy of that kindness. Expressing gratitude also helps us deal with bitterness. No one can be grateful and jealous at the same time. 

There is no good in fixating on rejections and failures. Instead, learn from them and wait patiently to see what might be in store for you. Make gratitude your go-to response. 

Kindness and gratitude work in harmony. Your own acts of kindness teach you what it takes to be kind. Let your own kindness enable you to feel truly grateful. The best way to attract kindness is by being kind to yourself. 

Don’t restrict your expression of gratitude to just words, let it show itself in your actions. Use your talent and skills to serve and help others. 

Actions to take

Relationships

“You assume the love you receive will come from the person you gave it to. But it doesn’t always come from that person.”

Trust is central to every relationship. Sometimes we trust people too easily or we withhold our trust from everyone. None of these extremes serves us well. Our level of trust should directly correspond to our experience with a person. 

To understand relationships and connection, it is essential to identify what is attracting you to an individual. Is it physical, material, intellectual, emotional or spiritual? Remember only the last two connections - emotional and spiritual - will lead to a lasting relationship. 

You can truly love and understand others when you love and understand yourself. If you aren’t self-aware, you will look for the wrong qualities and choose the wrong people. 

At the same time, it is important to differentiate between being grateful for what you have and settling for less than what you deserve. Don’t wrap your self-esteem around someone. Your value does not depend on someone’s ability to fully appreciate you. 

Actions to take

Service

“Selflessness heals the self”

The highest purpose is to live in service. Selflessness truly heals the self. Seek to leave a place cleaner than you found it, people happier than you found them and make the world better. 

Service adds value to our life, it connects us, it amplifies gratitude, increases compassion and also builds self-esteem. Service yields maximum satisfaction when it is selfless. 

You don’t have to be a multimillionaire to serve and help others. Service is not done because you have something to give, but because you see pain and you are compassionate to the needs of others.

We tend to see ourselves as the giver and others as the recipients. We imagine that when the service is done, a debt is created. However, true service does not expect or want anything in return. See yourselves as instruments of grace and compassion when in service.

We have the technology and the resources, we just need to globalize compassion. It is essential to witness the world around you and feel your shared humanity. Serving is basically healing the pain you can connect with. 

Actions to take

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