Think Like a Monk by Jay Shetty

In Think Like A Monk, Jay Shetty gives advice on mental health, meditation, and dealing with life. 

Jay spent several years living in a monastery until he realized his mission was amongst other people. 

His book is full of useful exercises ranging from dealing with fear to living your dharma. 

His work offers a practical guide to living a healthier and more fulfilled life.

Book Details

Personal Notes

This posts contains all my personal notes. 

I’ve categorized them so it’s easier to read. 

3 Types of Meditations

The monkey mind is demanding and entitled and not determined and patient. 

  1. Breath Work brings physical benefits, stillness, balance, and calms you.
  2. Visualization offers physiological benefits, heals the past, and prepares for the future.
  3. Chanting to connect to your deepest self and the universe.

The roles we play should be as close to who we are. You play a role to get around easier in the workplace, but we then take those roles to other parts of our lives.

Monks don’t use mirrors, so they don’t obsess over their looks.

We see ourselves in a mirror full of dust because of all the distractions. Live a simpler life.

Useful Tools for Life

  1. Ask yourself how your day went and what emotions you felt?
  2. Go someplace you’ve never been before to see yourself in a different environment.
  3. Find something meaningful to you as a hobby or charity.

What Are Your Values | Exercise

  • Check what your values are, for example, being sporty.
  • Ask yourself where these values came from. Did I get them from my parents, school, etcetera?
  • Are these values still true to me?
  • Filter out the ones that are not true to you anymore.

Audit your time and look at if it matches your priorities. Mark extra work as a different category to track it separately. Do they match your values? If not, you should rearrange your priorities.

Write down your best and worst choices.

Focus on sports, meditation, and music first. Then turn outwards. Don’t look for others to give you your positive emotions. Start with yourself first.

If you don’t feel enough, you’re focusing too much on the beauty-standard marketers push on to you. Limit your social media use and focus inwards instead.

How to Deal With Negativity

Whenever you think a negative thought about someone, write it down, followed by ten positive ones. Do the same for yourself. Once you start noticing the positive in others, you will see the same in yourself.

Positivity and gratefulness create flow and make you feel more in tune with the universe.

Negativity is contagious and can create aggressivity against random people.

Don’t bring others down at work to feel better.

A monastery is like a hospital. Even the doctors get sick sometimes. And it’s not an achievement of itself being there. It simply means you’re ready for healing.

We’re only upset by how others treat us because of our mental models. We feel we can’t be happy if others don’t treat us as we expect them to.

If you can, help people. If you can’t, at least don’t harm them.

The act of letting go leads to freedom. And freedom is the only prerequisite to happiness.

For every negative person in your life, have three happy people. 75% of your close circle should be uplifting people.

You don’t have to solve other people’s problems. If you’re frustrated, that’s the ego talking or your expectations not matching reality. Do something about it or stop complaining.

You shouldn’t compare yourself to others. If someone sells more apples than you but fewer than the day before, it says nothing about how good you are and how well you are improving.

Freedom is getting rid of things not wanted, but it’s normal to have negative thoughts.

SPOT, STOP, SWAP. Apply this to all negative patterns.

Don’t complain, compare, or criticize for a week. Keep track of how often you criticize and try to bring it down the week after. The goal is zero.

Take joy in other people’s successes. if you do this for fifty people, you’ll have 50x more happiness than just your own.

Everything is abundant. Time. Money. Joy. Happiness. Focus On This.

The three mindsets that are the most important are the growth, positive, and abundant mindset.

Think about someone who you like but also envy. Ask yourself: Did what they got really take something away from me? Focus instead on celebrating with and for them.

How To Forgive Anyone (Including Yourself) | Exercise

  1. Write I forgive you for X. Feel free to write it a couple of times.
  2. Take responsibility for your role by writing; please forgive me for Y.
  3. Record it and listen to it as an objective observer. You can also do this for yourself. Another book with a similar approach is The Fear Book.

Wish well to the people you want to forgive.

How To Deal With And Use Fear

Fear disconnects us from our abilities, but it’s also the wind that makes us stronger.

You have to face fear head-on. Four common reactions to fear are bury, run away, panic, and freeze. These actions are avoidant behavior. Instead, follow the next steps.

  1. Accept fear. Breath in and say, I see you. Breath out and say I see you and am here for you.
  2. Rate your fear. Think of a 10/10 fear and then rate your current one compared to that one.
  3. Ask your fear: When do I feel you?

Nothing belongs to us. We could all lose it at any point in time. If you realize everything is temporary, you enjoy it more.

Audit your attachments. Do this with external ones, such as your house, looks, and car, and internal ones, such as reputation and sense of belonging.

Change your relationships with these things by becoming less attached. You can say, for example, that I appreciate my looks because I have them now, knowing that nothing lasts forever.

Slow down and see the opportunities. What are they giving you? Reframe the situation.

Be grateful for challenges because they shape you.


Face the fear and ask it for help in the form of insight and understanding. Find out what you’re afraid of most and go live there.

What are Our Core Intentions?

We have four motivations:

  1. Fear (sickness, poverty, fear of health, fear of death)
  2. Desire (personal gratification through success, wealth, and pleasure)
  3. Duty
  4. Love


Happiness comes from mastering the mind and connecting with the soul.

Take a desire you have and ask WHY until you get to the root.

Set intentions internally instead of linking your identity to something external like sports or your job.

Focus on who you need to be instead of what you need to do.

Meditation is work that is never done.

Meditation For Different Intentions

Start each mediation by closing your eyes and rolling back your shoulders. Then think calm, balance, easy, stillness, peace. Keep your hand on your stomach while doing so.

  1. Relax: Breath in 4 seconds, hold 4 seconds, and breath out 4 seconds.
  2. Energize and Focus: Breath in through the nose for 4 seconds; breath out through the nose in less than 1 second.
  3. Sleep: Breath in and breath out longer.

You can’t have everything you want, but you can be everything you are

Don’t confuse inexperience with a lack of skill.

How To Discover Your Dharma

Dharma (your purpose)= passion + expertise + usefulness.

To find your dharma, ask yourself: Did I enjoy the process? Did others enjoy the outcome?

Elements of dharma: alive (connected), flow, comfort, consistency, positivy&growth

If you follow your bliss, doors that haven’t opened for anyone else will open for you. (don’t do the things that don’t excite you. Forcing doesn’t make any sense.

Think as you wake up every day: Today, I’m fortunate to be alive. I have a precious human life. I’m not going to waste it – The Dalai Lama.

Most cars can not go from 0 to 120 km/hour. Humans are not made to start the day like that either. Don’t look at your phone first thing when waking up.

Wake up one hour earlier than you do now.

The energy you go to sleep with will likely be the energy you wake up with. Set an intention at night!

Pay attention to small things in life, like stones, flowers, and butterflies, so we don’t go through life on autopilot. Now is the only moment you have. And afterward, it’ll be gone forever.

If you can not enjoy the dishes, you can not enjoy tea afterward either.

All activities are valued equally. One is not more important than the other.

We are not the mind. See it as a friend.

How To Change Negative Beliefs | Exercise

  1. Write down the negative self-beliefs daily.
  2. Talk to yourself:
    • [My Name] you can do this.
    • [My Name] you’re looking good. Etcetera
  3. Identify the ways you’re making progress.
  4. If you hear yourself saying, I can’t do this. I’m not good enough. Change it to; I’m making progress. I’m taking this [type of] action. For example:
    • I can’t do this to I can do this by xxx
    • I am unlovable to I’m reaching out to new people to make new connections
  5. Rate how painful it really is to put things in perspective.

When your mind is racing, write everything down.

SAY: Make my mind my friend. Repeat all over.

If you don’t like journaling, record yourself and listen to it.

We say things to ourselves that we would never say to others.

Ways To Be Nicer To Yourself

  • Make a list of things you say to yourself.
  • Then make a list of how you would present this to others.
  • Then you can change it. For example: If you say to yourself, you are worthless. Present it instead as “you feel worthless; let’s talk about what you love about yourself.”

How To Be Present | Exercise

If you are not in the present, ask:

  • What is unpleasant right today?
  • What would I like to change right now?
  • What is missing from this moment?

The Role Of Attachment And How To Get Rid Of It

Attachment is pain. When things are taken away from you, it hurts. That’s why it’s important to let go of attachments.

Attachment is not that you own nothing, but that nothing should own you (including people). It’s an ongoing process and continuous work.

What can I find in silence that I can’t find in anything else?

Spot the attachment and get rid of the distraction. If it rains and you don’t like how it ruined your hair, realize that your attachment to your looks prevents you from being happy.

When are you most vulnerable to the attachment? Is it boredom, laziness, fear of missing out, or loneliness?

Detachment brings relief. You don’t have to be the best. You can simply be a vessel for work that benefits others.

Unwind, connect, and reward yourself. What time of day did you set to do this? Then stop. What do you want to spend more, and what do you want to spend less time on?

Pride of knowledge destroys knowledge.

Stay true to yourself.

If you inspire special treatment, it’s because others believe in and appreciates you. If you demand respect, you’re looking for something you haven’t earned.

The ego both tells us we’re amazing as well as that we’re terrible. Only humility and wanting to keep growing are sustainable.

Doing mundane tasks creates character and gives time for reflection and introspection.

Don’t focus on the good you’ve done for others and the bad they’ve done to you. Focus on the good others have done to you instead.

Give. Giving brings happiness. A focus on getting things shapes expectations. Life always goes different than expected; hence it often leads to unhappiness.

We can hear the ego and not act on it. Look beyond the moment and the bigger picture of someone’s life and circumstances.

Humility comes from accepting where you are without seeing it as who you are. If your work is a narcissistic story of success, it will lead to unhappiness and feel empty. In other words, accept the opportunities you’ve been given. Be grateful for them, but don’t let them define you as a successful person or a failure depending on how things go. Use your fantasy to get out of it.

Self-esteem compares with itself instead of others, wants to be itself and vulnerable. The ego wants to be strong. If your idea of being strong is focused on how you think others see strength, it’s the ego, not self-esteem talking.

Being More Confident | Exercise

I really want to be confident in [an area of your life]. Ask yourself:

  • What will make me feel confident in this area? (realistic and achievable)
  • Break it down into small wins. Things you can achieve today.
  • Focus on this process since it’s within your power

Make sure you only ask people for advice if they’re an authority (that is, they have experience in the area).

The moment you say I’ve got this. I’m there. That’s when you fail. Stay humble.

A Technique To Counter Anxiety

This visualization is to counter feelings of anxiety. Go through all the senses by focusing on:

  • 5 things you can see
  • 4 things you can touch (imagine you are touching them one by one)
  • 3 things you can hear
  • 2 things you can smell
  • 1 thing you can taste

Visualization: if you’re creating a memory (that is, capturing the moment), keep your eyes open. If you’re returning to one, keep your eyes open.

The Importance Of Fostering Gratitude

Keep a gratefulness journal or a jar with post-its (where every day, you’d write down three things you’re grateful for and put them in the pot).

We can not focus on negative and positive at the same time.

Think of 3 things you’re grateful for in the morning

If something didn’t work, think this didn’t work out, but there’s more out there. Don’t fixate too much on what didn’t work. Be grateful for the experience and move on to new opportunities.

The Four Types of Trust In People

  1. Competence (trust their opinion)
  2. Care (about you)
  3. High character (live in accordance with values)
  4. Consistency

People will seldom have all. Focus on what they have and what you genuinely want from your relationship. Be realistic.

5 Motivations For Connection When Dating

  1. Physical attractions
  2. Material (what they have and have achieved)
  3. Intellectual
  4. Emotional
  5. Spiritual

Agree on rules around phones and screens so you connect better with your friends, family, and peers.

Loving relationships are the single most important factor in life.

We are so addicted to creating the same experiences that we don’t make space for new ones. What you’re doing at the beginning of the relationship is creating more new memories. Love is kept alive by creating new and more memories.

The Importance Of New Activities In A Relationship

  • Find new in the old
  • Find new ways to spend time together (escape rooms, dancing, etc.). When you experiment as a couple, you reconnect in new ways.
  • Serve together
  • Meditate and chant together (feel in tune and solve conflict)
  • Envision what you both want from the relationship. Live your own dharma but get there together.

Plant trees under whose shade you do not plan to sit.

Love is in the small things. Not the grand gestures. Always carry something around to give to others.

How am I serving the people around me? How am I helping my colleagues?

Make a list of the five people you’d drop everything for to help them. Now make a list of 20 people you’d help if they’d ask for it. Put this list on your mirror and see how it changes your perspective.

I want more to give more.

Genuine service doesn’t want anything in return.

Service is always the answer. Whether it’s a good or bad day, when you live in service, you are grateful and don’t have time to worry.

Use a mantra and chant it every morning and night.

How To Start A Meditation Habit

  • 2x 21 min per day
  • meditate, visualize, chant
  • first breath, lower gaze, think: calm, balance, easy, stillness, peace
  • never skip the breathing exercise
  • breath in positive energy, breath out negative energy
  • say to yourself x3 each:
    • 1) I’m happy with who I am becoming
    • 2) I’m open to all opportunities and possibilities
    • 3) I’m worthy of real love
    • 4) I’m ready to serve with all I have

Keep doing meditation, but don’t have any goals around meditation. It’s working when you start realizing you’re missing it.

If you can’t focus during meditation, it indicates that your life is more chaotic and that you need to sit down and meditate (same as if you feel tired and need sleep).

You don’t want to have regrets when you look back on life. You want to have spent your life living your dharma!

Be a teacher and a student. You can never cease learning.

Death Meditation At The Beginning Of The Year | Exercise

Fast forward to old age (100+)

  • What do I wish I’d done?
  • Which experiences do I wish I had?
  • What do I regret not giving more attention?
  • Which things do I wish I’d worked on?
  • What do I wish I’d detached from?Then see yourself at your funeral.
  • How would you be remembered?
  • What was your impact?Then think about if you’d die now.
  • What would be the difference between the two?

If you are scared and unhappy, think to yourself: what would a monk do? You get the answer 99% of the time

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