Think Like A Monk by Jay Shetty (In-Depth Summary)

Think Like A Monk

by Jay Shetty

Book in 3 Sentences

Have a monk mindset rather than a monkey mindset. Breath is the most important thing in our life, breath changes along with emotions, once you know how to breathe (meditate), you can go deeper with yourself. Training your mind with positivity, self-control, gratitude, discipline is very crucial in making a more fulfilling life. 


Reading from a christian’s perspective, I feel like this book does reflect a lot of similar practices from the bible. However, not all is necessarily true, like for the mantra part when meditating, feel free to swap it out with praying (if you are a christian). Nonetheless this book tackles the fundamental values of being a human, a good one, from a monk’s perspective. Although some parts are quite repetitive, especially towards the end, I still think that this book has a lot more from what I have summarised. 

Key takeaways under 150

Our breath is more important than we thought, we breathe every moment, if we can control how we breathe, then we can control ourselves (emotionally). Self-control and discipline is a training for the mind, activities like waking up earlier and sleeping earlier too are to train the mind and also give us a more refreshing start for our future.

Spot, stop and swap. These are key actions made in awareness and conscience. The actions can help us be objective observers to our life. Plus, it can be used to weed out the negativity in our lives. Have transformational forgiveness.

Live intentionally. Live in your dharma. Have a routine so you can be more creative and productive. Be here now. Detach yourself from impermanence. Remember you are just a man, keep your ego in check.

Love is a verb. Be grateful about anything and everything you have. Serving others is a higher call for being a human.

More Detailed Summary 


Be conscious consistently in aiming to be alive in this moment. 

Monkey mindset- changes rapidly from thought to thought, never settling and really solving anything.

Monk mindset- clarity, meaning and direction. 

Breath- Focus on the root of the problem, not the branches. 

Breathing changes with our emotions, once we can control how we breathe, we can handle any situation in life. 

1 Identity

Our image comes from what we think others think of us, which leads us to method acting (putting on different personas in different occasions)

Society’s definition of life is everybody’s when you reflect upon it; nobody’s when you don’t. (have more meaning when reflect)

Guiding values are very important. They are whatever that absorbs our mind. 

Education must be balanced- fact-driven curriculum inhibits creativity, narrow cultural approach closes minds.

Observing and evaluating requires space and stillness. If we tune out distractions, we can hear ourselves, whereas if we fill ourselves with distractions, those distractions will be our values. 

Reflections can be done: 1. reflect daily about how you feel. 2. Visit a different place monthly. 3. do something meaningful to you (hobby, charity)

Audit your life via your actions to check on your values. 1. how you use your time. 2. screen time. 3. how you spend your money. (and ask what is the value behind these choices) 

It is your choice to tweak your life, letting go of some stuffs if not aligned with your values, it takes time. 

Surround yourself with people who fit your values. 近朱者赤近墨者黑。

2 Negativity

Cancers of the mind: Comparing, Complaining, Criticising. Gossip = bad.

Three core emotional needs: peace, love, understanding. Negativity is when one of it is under threat. 

Adopting victim mentality can lead to selfishness and entitlement. 

Most humans like to conform to the society- groupthink mindset. 

Negativity leads to more negativity. Complainers, cancellers, casualties, critics, commanders, competitors, controllers.

Everyone is imperfect, do not judge. 

Reverse external negativity: 1. Approach negativity with awareness, become an objective observer, do not act on first impulse, choose how to act. 2. back slowly away. 3. spend 75% of your time with inspiring people. 4. Allocate time for the negativity, only let it within the time-frame. 5. Do not be a saviour. 

Reverse internal negativity, purify your own thoughts, letting go of things not wanted, small actions also have consequences. 

Spot, Stop, Swap. 

Spot: Be aware of your negative comments. (judge, envy, suspect)

Stop: Breathe, have careful and thoughtful observations. 

Swap: Be mindful of our negativity by being specific. Reverse envy. Choose your own words wisely. 

Forgiveness frees you from anger. Only people who are hurt, hurt people. Transformational forgiveness- have courage to admit your wrongs and to apologize without expecting any return, gives you a peace of mind. Remember to forgive yourself also. 

Be mindful about the energy around you and you absorb. If you fixate more time to someone else, you would not have time for yourself. 

3 Fear

Fear will get the worst out of the best of us. We often distract ourselves from facing our true fears. 

Notice fear’s warnings and ignore fear’s guidance, realise what fear can teach us, often times the fear from stresses are what makes us stronger. 

We need to realise which fear is worth worrying about and tune our reaction (change our attitude) to fear rather than just panic, freeze, run away and bury away.

Accept and acknowledge your fear, find fear patterns (when, where, what, who), learn to detach because attachment- our own need to control things- causes great fear, shift the fear into freedom. Control how you think (internal) because we can’t change the external easily and never panic. 

Break panic by using 4-4-4 breathing technique (breathe in, hold, breathe out) until heart rate slows down. Life is a compilation of the past, present, future. Learn from them, do not derive negativity from them. 

When we deny fear, our problems follow us, face it. 

4 Intention 

Four motivations of life: fear (not sustainable), desire, duty, love. 

Happiness does not come from external measures of success, happiness is found within us by mastering the mind and connecting with the soul. 

To feel meaning shows that our actions have purpose. Character is wealth. 

Asking why to your wants deeply can reveal your true purpose and meaning of your actions. External goals cannot fill internal voids. 

Be intentional with your life, live life more consciously. Nobody is going to create our lives for us, you need to be more intentional and proactive. “I wish” is a code for “I don’t want to do anything differently.” Therefore, do the work behind the want intentionally and consistently in efforts to make an impact (relationships, etc.). If you are clear with what you are doing, you are more resilient. Can look for role models. No intentions are completely pure. Generous intentions radiate from people. 

Meditation: Breathe 

Meditation may get you where you want to be, it may show you what you don’t want to see. That’s why it is hard. 

Steps: Find comfortable position (any), close eyes, look down, be comfortable, roll your shoulders, use 4-4-4 breathing.

It is not about how long you can meditate, it is how deep you can go. 

5 Purpose 

No one organ was more important than another. Every task in life has its own meaning, even doing chores or doing what you do not like, take the time and understand why are you feeling like that, so that we can have flexibility to access every corner of study and growth. 

Living in dharma- passions and skills (your thrive mode) used to selfless contribute to the world’s needs. 

You can’t be anything you want, but you can be everything you are. Life is a journey, pay attention, cultivate self-awareness, feed your strengths and you will find your way. “Your time is limited, so don’t waste living someone else’s life.” – Steve Jobs. 

Do not just focus solely in building your strengths, but also need to never stop improving on emotional qualities (empathy, compassion, kindness and generosity). Do not simply give up on something without even trying with intention and effort. Mastery requires a lot of deliberate practice, if you love it, you will do it. 

Four Quadrants of Potential:

Q1: Good at but don’t love.
Look for opportunities to do what you love in the life you already have in your workplace, bring the energy of your dharma to work. 
Look from another perspective to love what you are good at, reengineer our task or change how we perceive at what we are doing. 
Learn to find meaning. 

Q4: Not Good At, but Love.
Find time to get good at it, everyone has time. 

Q3: Not Good At, Don’t Love.
Get the fuck out of there, or outsource them. Have respect for people of different jobs. 

Q2: Vedic Personality
Good and love what you do. Then be a Varna.

Four Varna Personalities: 
Creators, Makers, Guides, Leaders. 

Invest in your strengths and surround yourself with people who can fill in your shortcomings. 
Check your varna’s by doing various events, and ask yourself (did you enjoy the process? did other people enjoy the result?)

Our heads often blocks our passion by giving stupid excuses. Follow your bliss. 

Dharma is alive, flow, comfort, consistency, positivity and growth. When you safeguard your dharma, you constantly strive to be in a place that you thrive. When you thrive, people notice, and you reap the rewards that help you stay in your dharma. Stretch your dharma to build competence and character. 

6 Routine 

Starting the day simple cleans up the mess from yesterday. Do not scroll phone first thing, too much info, overload the just started brain. Cut down on trivial decisions. 

Giving yourself enough sleep (earlier sleep) is a form of self-respect and self-love. 

Have morning routine (refer to 5AM Club). Before bed, can visualise yourself for tomorrow. 

Having a routine creates a structure for us to easily follow, and thus in that frame of time, we can be more creative. Be mindful and aware of your routine, find something new in the same old routine. 

Being present is the only way to live a truly rich and full life. Do not let yourself be overwhelmed by daydreaming and distractions and being selectively present. 

Have environmental awareness. 

Designate specific locations for one specific reason only. 

Choose the sounds around you. 

Location has energy; time has memory; doing something at the same time or the same place everyday becomes easier and more natural.  

Do not multitask. Practice immersive single-tasking. 

Change happens in small steps with big priorities. 

7 The Mind 

“Your mind is not reacting to events in the world, it’s predicting… constantly guessing what’s going to happen next.” Lisa Feldman Barrett. 

True growth requires understanding of the mind. Our choices are fed by what we read and hear, who we spend time with, what we do with our time, where we focus our energy and attention. 

When we procrastinate, our should and want selfs are in conflict. 

Communicate with your mind, do not let the automatic responses take control, be aware that the intellect must always be in control, or else it will lead to needing and wanting temporary pleasures and instant gratification. 

The monkey mind is reactive, the monk mind is proactive. Have self-control, minimise the mind’s reactive tendencies (get rid of the distractions before it distracts you), do not set yourself up to fail, when facing internal battle, monkey mind is bad. 

Wake up the subconscious, actively reprogram ourselves, do not miss out when in default mode. Best way to overwrite the voices in your head is to start talking to them. Literally. (Can help boost memory and helps you focus). Reframe (Rephrase) your self-criticism in terms of knowledge, focus on the good that is happening instead of the bad. Learn one new thing everyday. Put your frustrations into a continuum (rate 1-10), gain clearer view of them. Writing our deepest thoughts and feelings out also helps in giving us the perspectives of our well-being.

Treat yourself with the same love and respect you want to show to others. 

Be here now. 

Detaching = gain control of the mind. Be aware of how you spend your time, what your attachments are. 

Train your brains. Have self-control or be controlled by attachments. 

8 Ego 

Remember you are but a man. Have Humility. True humility allows us to understand our weaknesses and want to improve. 

Real ego- the consciousness that makes us aware and awake to reality.

False ego- identity crafted to preserve our sense of being the most important guy in the universe. 

Pride is “the cause of the most damaging fall for the soul”. 

Reflect on the you who emerges when no one is watching. That is the real you. 

Ego makes us liars, feel entitled, judgemental, an obstacle to growth. 

Have scout mindset (objective) rather than soldier mindset (defensive), an attitude to life. 

When we presume knowledge, we are letting ourselves learn lesser. 

If you do not break your ego, life will break it for you. 

Two things to remember are the bad we have done to others and the good others have done to us. Two things to forget are the good we have done for others and the bad others have done for us. 

Keep our ego in check. Detach your ego.

Build confidence, not ego. By being ourselves and also consistently having small wins that can be done today. 

Get feedback from other people, pay close attention to how their non-verbal actions are to you. 

You are not your success and failures. 

Real greatness comes from teaching others and teaching others how to teach others but feel no pride in it because there is more to be done. 

Meditation: Visualise 

In order to create something we have to imagine it. 

Set (Voice guidance) and exploratory (create your own details) visualisations. i.e. body scans, create a sacred space, presence and mental picture. 

9 Gratitude  

The feeling of appreciation when you recognise something valuable to you which has nothing to do with its monetary worth. 

When you are present at gratitude, you cannot be present anywhere else, we cant be positive and negative at the same time. Gratitude is a virtuous cycle and contagious. Begin everyday by giving thanks, to anything and everything. Do not focus on what we are lacking, if you label something as bad, your mind will believe it, instead be conscious and grateful about what we have. 

Take a broader view on life to minimise pain and appreciate what we have. 

Different people receive gratitude in a different manner. 

10 Relationships  

Build a circle of love, by being in a community. 

Too often we love people who don’t love us, but we fail to return the love of others who do. Lack of gratitude is what makes us feel unloved. 
Different people serve different purposes. 

Four types of trust: competence, care, character, consistency. Everyone has different types of trust, not all. Make sure to have all types of people in your circle.
Three different types of people: Season, Reason, Lifetime.

Trust is the central of all relationships. Betrayal is more harmful than honesty. 
Four stages of trust: Neutral, Contractual, Mutual, Pure. 

Be intentional in love life or life in general. Show love through presence and attention. Have energy management not time management. 

Physical attraction, Material, Intellectual- Attractions, not necessarily can be long-term relationships.
Emotional and spiritual- connection, show compatibility. 

Six loving exchanges: 
Gifts: giving with intention, receiving with gratitude. 
Conversation: listening without judgement, speaking with vulnerability
Food (exchange of experiences): preparing without agenda, receiving with presence. 

Love is a verb. 

If you do not know what you want, you will send wrong signals and attract wrong people; if you are not self-aware, you will look for the wrong qualities and choose the wrong people. Until you understand yourself, you would not be ready for love. If you keep attracting the wrong people, you need to pull the core of pain that is holding you in the past and make peace with it. 

Keeping love alive, we will not have space for new experience if we keep living in the past. Find new in the old. Find new ways to spend time together. Serve together. Meditate together. Envision together what you both want from the relationship. 

There is a difference between being grateful for what you have and settling for less than you deserve. In every relationship, you can set the level of joy and the level of pain you expect and accept. Feel every emotion, learn from the situation, believe in your worth, wait before dating again. If you have lost yourself in the relationship, find yourself in the heartbreak. Spot, stop, swap. 

11 Service  

The highest purpose of life is to service. Selflessness heals the self. We seek to leave a place cleaner than we found it. We are like nature, giving.

If we can learn to hate, then we can also learn to love. 

Service connects us, amplifies gratitude, increases compassion, builds self-esteem. Give without expecting returns. 

Extend radius of care.

Serve, there is no best time to serve, just serve with the right heart. 

Service is the direct path to a meaningful life. 

Death meditation: meditate about how you would want to be remembered in your funeral. imagine yourself on the death bed.

Craving for more? Down below:
some updates
Decisions. Decisions.
Willpower is Limited
5 A.M. Club by Robin Sharma (In-Depth Summary)
My Thoughts on Malaysia 2020
some free stuffs

Published by zeckrombryan

Hope. Joy. Feelings cloaked as words.

9 thoughts on “Think Like A Monk by Jay Shetty (In-Depth Summary)

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