Think Like a Monk: Quotes by Jay Shetty

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "Think Like a Monk" by Jay Shetty. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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What are some of the best Think Like a Monk quotes from Jay Shetty? What can Shetty teach you about adopting a monk mindset?

Former Vedic monk and award-winning content creator Jay Shetty claims that the route to happiness and fulfillment is to think like a monk. According to him, monks are the calmest and happiest people in the world because they live with a sense of purpose that aligns with their true, inner selves. 

Continue reading for some of the best quotes from Think Like a Monk.

Think Like a Monk Quotes

You don’t need to cut yourself off from the modern world or shave your head to benefit from this mindset. Shetty draws from his experiences as a monk, ancient spiritual texts, and the latest psychological research to transform abstract concepts into actionable methods you can easily incorporate into your life. 

Here are some of Shetty’s best quotes from Think Like a Monk:

“The more we define ourselves in relation to the people around us, the more lost we are.”

When you’re preoccupied with chasing false images of happiness—by conforming to and pleasing others—you end up accumulating other people’s values and pursuing things that you think will make you happy. However, while your different personas enable you to navigate and perform in accordance with the various values you’re influenced by, you don’t stop to consider if any of these values align with your inner values. Consequently, Shetty argues, you’re unable to understand or appreciate the meaning behind what you’re doing, or to gain any real satisfaction once you get the things you’ve been chasing.

“Negativity is a trait, not someone’s identity. A person’s true nature can be obscured by clouds, but, like the sun, it is always there. And clouds can overcome any of us. We have to understand this when we deal with people who exude negative energy. Just like we wouldn’t want someone to judge us by our worst moments, we must be careful not to do that to others.”

If you’ve developed the habit of thinking negative and unproductive thoughts, you may find it difficult to focus your attention and make decisions that align with how you want to live. So, we’ll conclude this first part of the guide by exploring methods you can use to counter negative thoughts, calm your mind, and gain a deeper awareness of what you need to feel satisfied and happy. 

Shetty argues that you’ll never be able to fully control external circumstances (other people, situations, and so on). Further, attempting to control the uncontrollable only fuels thoughts that make you feel uncomfortable (for example, “they should act like this,” “that shouldn’t have happened”). Fortunately, there is something you can control that will massively impact the way you perceive, feel about, and respond to your experiences: your thoughts. 

“Monks understand that routine frees your mind, but the biggest threat to that freedom is monotony. People complain about their poor memories, but I’ve heard it said that we don’t have a retention problem, we have an attention problem.”

Unfortunately, there are always going to be things that you need to do that don’t interest or engage you. However, Shetty claims that it’s possible to find meaning and satisfaction in any activity you do by finding different ways to think about it. Let’s explore the three methods Shetty suggests to help you feel more engaged and satisfied no matter what you’re doing:

1) Track the activities you take part in: Shetty recommends that you log every activity you get involved in and consider whether or not you enjoy them. Ask specific questions to uncover what exactly you enjoy or dislike about each activity. In addition, reflect back on times when you’ve performed at your best and felt satisfied with your accomplishments. Consider the patterns that link these experiences and how you can create opportunities for similar experiences in different circumstances or with different people.

2) Reframe what you don’t enjoy: If you find yourself having to do things that you don’t enjoy, Shetty suggests that you reframe the way you think about them so that you can switch your focus from dislike to appreciation. For example, you dislike your job but you choose to focus on the transferable skills you’re currently honing. This allows you to find meaning in the skills you’re developing because they’ll serve you well in the job you’re aiming for. 

3) Add to-be lists to your to-do lists: Shetty claims that focusing on who you want to be while you’re in the middle of an activity changes the way you perceive it and opens you up to experiencing it in a more engaging way. For example, every evening you have the frustrating task of trying to get your kids to finish their homework. When you consider who you need to be to achieve this (calm, patient), you switch your focus from feeling frustrated to feeling calm. This changes your experience of what’s happening and reduces the tension you normally feel when involved in this activity.

“There is toxicity everywhere around us. In the environment, in the political atmosphere, but the origin is in people’s hearts. Unless we clean the ecology of our own heart and inspire others to do the same, we will be an instrument of polluting the environment. But if we create purity in our own heart, then we can contribute great purity to the world around us.”

Shetty argues that you can generate immense feelings of satisfaction and happiness by sharing your values, strengths, and compassion with others. He suggests that you begin to consider ways that you can make a positive difference and show your care for the people you value.

1) Track where you spend time this week. What opportunities are there for you to leave a positive mark in each of these places? 

2) Think of three moments in your life when you would have benefited from help or guidance. Now think of a charity or cause for each of these areas. Do any of these have opportunities to serve that suit your unique skills and abilities?

3) Regularly involve yourself in something that’s meaningful to you. This might take the form of pursuing a hobby or lending your support to a charity or political cause.

Think Like a Monk: Quotes by Jay Shetty

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Like what you just read? Read the rest of the world's best book summary and analysis of Jay Shetty's "Think Like a Monk" at Shortform.

Here's what you'll find in our full Think Like a Monk summary:

  • Tips from a former Vedic monk on how to find happiness and fulfillment in life
  • The three stages to adopting the monk mindset
  • How to positively influence the world around you

Hannah Aster

Hannah graduated summa cum laude with a degree in English and double minors in Professional Writing and Creative Writing. She grew up reading books like Harry Potter and His Dark Materials and has always carried a passion for fiction. However, Hannah transitioned to non-fiction writing when she started her travel website in 2018 and now enjoys sharing travel guides and trying to inspire others to see the world.

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