[0:02] Rachel: Happy Friday everyone, and welcome to a brand new episode of the Yoga Girl podcast. On today’s show, I have an incredible human that I have literally dreamed of having on the show. This man is on my podcast vision board. He used to be a monk, and has taken the principles from his life spent in the ashram and applied them in his roles as entrepreneur, podcast host, motivational speaker, and now author. Here to help you think like a monk, welcome to the show the one and only Jay Shetty!
[Jay] Oh Rachel, that means the world to me, thank you so much. That’s such a sweet intro, and I am remembering when we first, and only time we met, but it was so awesome because roles were reversed, I was interviewing you and you gave such an incredible interview, we were at Huff Post in New York, and I remember just absolutely loving your energy, so I’m so glad that we’re connected again.
Rachel: It’s so fun, and I was thinking back to that day, you know I was touring for my first book, and I remember you were the happiest guy we met, all week.
Rachel: I mean, New York is kind of intense as it is, but you were so easy-going, and happy, and chill, and it really made me wonder today, like are you generally, usually as happy and calm as you, as you come off, also online?
[1:18] Jay: [Laughs] I’d say that I’m, I’m pretty, what I would use the word is, is steady, in the sense that I feel my response to negativity or positivity is pretty aligned. I wouldn’t say I’m always externally bubbly, or smiley, or I wouldn’t say that’s always me; that’s my wife. Like my wife is, is a natural energy of just, she’s a bundle of joy and, you know, dancing, and laughing, and she’s like that inside and out all the time. I’d say that I’m, I’m a bit more sober and reserved sometimes, and can be quite neutral in my, in my life. But when I’m around people that give me energy and that I think are, you know, giving great insights and ideas, then I definitely come to life. So I’d say that on my own, I’m probably more neutral, but when I’m around other people, I definitely open up much more, and am much more of that positive self.
Rachel: So, speaking from the heart, you know, right now, in this moment, how, how are you doing?
[2:18] Jay: I…that’s a great question. I am really happy, and nervous, because I’m launching my first book ever, and I really enjoy the feeling of doing something new, and I love how, how many, like I love feeling that butterflies feeling, and I love that idea of like, “I don’t know what I’m doing, and this is my first time, and this is so exciting,” and so I’m in that space, and at the same time, my schedule right now is extremely productive, and back-to-back. But in my heart, I’d say I feel fully aligned with my purpose, and I feel fully in the space where I can honestly say that I am exactly where I need to be. And I think that’s where I feel the happiest is when I can hold my hand to my heart and say, “I’m exactly where I need to be.”
Rachel: Mmm. Oh how beautiful to, to hear, just hearing you say that also reminded me that I am, I am also where I need to be [laughs].
Rachel: You know, it’s nice to, to hear you so aligned with that in this moment. I, I received the book; so it’s not out yet, right? It’s out in September.
Jay: No, you’re right.
Rachel: But I received a little sneak peek…
Rachel: …just of, on the Friday, so a couple of days ago, and I told myself, “okay, I’m going to speed read this, I’m going to be completely, you know, having read the whole book when I talk to Jay on Monday,” and then I opened the book and I was like, “no, this is not a speed reading book, this is a drink a cup of tea, sit…
Rachel: …in your garden, take a breath, bring your journal, and do these practices and these exercises and really be with this book. It’s a wonderful book.”
[3:51] Jay: Aw, thank you for saying that, and I think you have completely summarized the essence of what this book is meant to do, and how it’s meant to be read. I, I really don’t feel — exactly what you said — it’s not a quick read, it’s meant to be a book that can help people really deepen their understanding of themselves, and that it’s an experiential book. The book is an experience, it’s something that’s living, and if you perform the exercises, the experiments, and the explorations inside, then you’ll only go and continue to have a deeper relationship with yourself. So I’m so happy to hear you say that. And yeah, it comes out eighth September, and I’m really hoping that everyone’s going to get their journals out, or their voice notes out and experience the book.
Rachel: Yeah, it truly, truly is, you know, I’m a few chapters in already, but I’ve been really working with it, which is beautiful. And not every book that invites you to sit, you know, sit with something, and practice something, and write, or contemplate something, makes it easy to do that, so I really appreciate how you really bring the reader in, you know. I can apply it to my own life. I had an interesting exchange with my, my husband this morning who follow you, I think, on Facebook, so he knows you by face and name, but I don’t think he knows so much of your, of your story, and he asked, he said, “but wait, why is the book called Think Like a Monk? Like how does he know how to think like a monk?” And I went, “well he was a monk.” And he went, “no.”
[5:18] Rachel: “That, that young guy was a monk?” Do you get that response a lot? I mean, is that something, is it a, is it a conversation started wherever you go?
Jay: I, I definitely find people intrigued that I lived as a monk, and I think that’s because it’s such a rare decision, like I don’t think many people in the world decide to go off and live as monks. I think most people wouldn’t even be able to name one local monk [laughs] in their area, I don’t think it’s a common…
Jay: …common affair, so yeah, everyone’s always intrigued by that. And I guess for me, it was the same intrigue when I first met a monk; I was fortunate enough to meet a monk when I was 18 years old, which I write about in the book, and that experience, and for me, this is partly why I wrote the book Think Like a Monk, because I really believe that in the world, we’re only exposed to a finite number of ideas and options. If you speak to a young child, or a young teenager about what they want to be when they grow up, most people will give you a very finite number of options; today I believe the most common thing any young person wants to be is a TikTok, or a YouTuber, or a social media influencer. You know, when I was growing up, the people in my area at least became doctors, or lawyers, or accountants.
[6:34] And so I feel like we grow up in a world which almost has these defined options as to what we can be and who we can be, until we’re presented with an alternative idea, and I’m sure this, it’s the same as you. I don’t, I don’t believe you grew up doing yoga, or knew about it, you know, from the moment you were born, but when we get exposed to these ideas, they can change our lives in so many wonderful ways, and so for me, I really want to help people be exposed to our alternative ideas. And one of my favourite examples of this is, there’s a story about Mark Zuckerberg in 2009 where he was struggling with the direction of Facebook, and he was wondering where it was going to go, and they’d obviously started in 2004, and he was trying to find his vision. And he went to his mentor to ask for advice, and his mentor happened to be Steve Jobs — pretty cool mentor to have…
[7:30] Jay: …and Mark went up to Steve and he said, “look, Steve, I confused. Where’s Facebook going, and I don’t know about my vision, and where I should be, and what it should do.” And now Steve Jobs, obviously being one of the most accomplished people in the world, he could have introduced Mark to, you know, funding, or some business advice, or some business coaches, or whatever it may have been. But Mark tells this story, and he says that Steve Jobs asked him to go to India and live in an ashram, a monastery, for a month, and said that if he did that, that’s where he would find his answer. And Mark actually took to it, Mark went to this ashram, it was, I believe, the ashram of Neem Karoli Baba, he lived in this ashram for about a month, or at least stayed there for, for a bit of time, and he said that that’s where he discovered the vision of what he wanted to do to connect people. And so what I love about that is that it’s often the counter-intuitive advice, it’s often the advice we don’t expect that transforms our life, as opposed to the advice we’ve heard since we were born.
Rachel: Absolutely. And I mean it’s also, I think challenging for a lot of, a lot of people these days, because we are exposed to similar things all the time. You know, this year, I think, even this year aside when we’re in isolation and all of this, but this whole idea that everyone should be an influencer, or we hear what society’s say, or telling us, or the media’s telling us, “be successful, be this, do this as a next step,” if we don’t have the opportunity to, to go be in silence with ourselves in an ashram for an extended period of time, how can we distinguish that, that inner voice, I guess, that actually tells us, “here is the next right thing,” from all the other noise that we encounter every day? How do we, how do we get there without that big of a life change?
[9:15] Jay: Yeah, that’s a great question. I think you, you alluded to it there, and I really, genuinely believe that there’s such a need, and especially this year I think we’ve all been reminded of how tough it can be, but there is such a need for each individual to find their own silence, stillness, and space, and that may not be a three year journey, it may not be a one year journey, but it needs to be a daily journey that we take of carving out some time every day that is spent in stillness, silence, and personal space. And I’ll give you an example of how tough that is, and then how to do it. There’s a great study that’s been done where men and women were asked to either be alone with their thoughts for 15 minutes, or if they didn’t feel comfortable with that, they could give themselves an electric shock. And here’s the statistics and what the research showed: 30 percent of women chose an electric shock, and 60 percent of men chose an electric shock. And the reason was because they didn’t want to be alone with their thought for 15 minutes.
[10:24] So I think we live in a society that we’ve become scared of being with our own thoughts, or being alone, and a big part of that is because of how we programmed people to think about loneliness as a negative thing. If you think about it, when you’re a young child, if you don’t talk to anyone at school, or you don’t have a lot of friends, you’re considered the loner, and loneliness is considered bad. If you have a birthday party and only five people show up, you’re considered the unpopular person. If you’re a 30 year old person, or a 35 year old and you’re not in a relationship, society will be like, “oh, my God, are you still single?” And so we continuously look at being alone as a negative thing, whereas when I was a monk, we learned about how being in solitude was considered a superpower. And so how do you do that every day — which is your question, coming back to that — the way we do that is by carving out 10 to 15 minutes a day where you just find a space in your home that allows you to feel that you’re in silence; it’s the same space every day that gives you a sense of calm, and then just spending it and trying to listen to your body and mind and what they have to tell you.
[11:43] And what, and I’ll give you an example of that, and, Rachel, I’m sure you’ve had this, probably not right now, but usually you travel a lot, you, you do a lot of work internationally, and so do I. And imagine you’re traveling, you’re running around, you’re really hectic, and I’ve realized that sometimes, my wife may want to say something to me, but she needs me to slow down and be present so that I can actually say it. And similarly with our intuition and mind, and our body, they can’t tell us anything because we’re just moving around all the time, and living this hectic lifestyle, but when we actually take time to just slow down every day, something as simple as sitting in the same place, or going on the same walk every day and asking ourselves a different question, or taking a new route to work every day and just trying to think differently, like there’s simple changes in our day-to-day life can lead to so many wonderful revelations.
Rachel: Mmm. So true. And I love what you say about, about aloneness, how we really are so conditioned to believe that if we are alone, it’s like failing somehow; that we have to constantly fill our time with people, and excitement, and togetherness all the time, and it’s actually one of those qualities that, that once we learn how to be with ourselves, it can actually increase our ability to attract the good in others too. I find if we don’t know how to be in our own space, with ourselves, with our thoughts and our pains, and all the stuff that we have going on inside, it’s also going to be really hard to be truly present with another person.
[13:17] Jay: That’s so true, and so well said. Psychology talks about how there’s two types of loneliness: one type of loneliness is physically not being around people, and the second type of loneliness is being around people that don’t understand you. And I think that second type of loneliness is the loneliness that we all experience the most, because we’re around people but we’ve not really been conscious, as you said, of attracting the right people into our lives, or we’re not present with ourselves, and so we struggle to be present with others. And so loneliness isn’t just not being around people, it’s actually surrounding ourself with people that aren’t the people that we deeply connect with, that we can open up to, that we can be vulnerable with, that we trust.
[14:08] And ultimately, that’s what we’re seeking is trust, and a deeper bond, but that comes when we learn to trust ourselves. And we learn to trust ourselves when we know ourselves. So self-love, or love with another person, begins with trust. And trust begins with knowledge, right? You don’t love someone that you don’t trust, and you don’t trust someone that you don’t know. And so the root of self-love, or self-trust, or loving someone else, or trusting someone else all starts with self-knowledge and self-awareness, and that begins with getting to know ourselves. And the way you get to know yourself is by spending time with yourself. So just as we’re booking schedules, and meetings, and appointments with others, it’s so important that we book a call with ourselves every day.
[14:58] Rachel: So important. And I find this year, I think for so many people, has been such an eye-opener in terms of this. I know for me personally, you know, I have a very disciplined yoga practice, and meditation practice, and I always had this idea of, you know, “I’m so anchored in my spirituality, and I create so much space for myself,” and then suddenly quarantine happened, and isolation happened, and I got to actually sit with how busy I am, and how much doing there is all throughout the day, from the moment my, I wake up to the moment I got to bed. And I have these kind of sections of, “okay, well here is yoga, and here is mediation, and that’s it for the day,” but how’ve actually been lacking this ability to infuse what I learn in that practice into the day-to-day moments. And I think one of the, I, I shared this once of the podcast, but I had one of those, you know, kind of “grace of God,” sky opens up and you have this, like a lightning bolt to your skull kind of epiphany moment…
Rachel: Where I, I was with my three year old, I have a, a have a three year old little girl, and we were playing, and she wanted to build a fort, and we’re building, and collecting, and creating this space. And then we went inside the fort, and I went, “okay, now what do you want to do?” And she said, “now we’re in the fort mom.”
Rachel: And I just sat there realizing, “oh, this is it. Now we just sit here.” And that was really hard for me, you know, it’s, it’s almost like the doing and the going and the getting to and then the practice has just, yeah, at least for the last few years for me remained a practice that’s boxed into this space. I guess my question is…
[16:37] Jay: That is such a beautiful example…sorry, I want to take a moment to just celebrate your daughter…
Jay: …that’s just so beautiful, like she, your daughter is thinking like a monk…
Rachel: She is!
Jay: …more than any of us, because she’s just happy to just be…
Jay: …and experience what’s been created. And I think we, we spend a lot of time in creation, but not in experience.
Jay: And you know, if you think about life, life is creation, experience and destruction, like there’s a three, kind of journeys that everything goes through, and I think as humans, we focus a lot on creation, but not experiencing.
Rachel: Mmm, yeah, like building the fort, but not so much enjoying the fort, or sitting in the fort, or just being in the fort.
Rachel: And then children do that so naturally, I mean her life is just, you know, baking, and being immersed in that completely. She doesn’t really care about the end product being something delicious to eat, it’s the process of it.
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[18:36] Rachel: Why do you think it’s so hard — because I know it’s not just me, I mean we’re all wired a little bit differently, of course — but to, to take the practices that we so enjoy, that we know are so important for us, the self-care, and the meditation, and the mindfulness practices, but to really live them, you know? To make them into life, because I think that’s what so many of us are looking for but it’s, it’s hard.
Jay: Yeah, it is hard, and I think it’s hard because we’ve been trained to be distracted, and when you’re distracted, or you’re trained to numb your pain, then naturally, we don’t turn towards things that are truly healing, so, you know, since we were young, we were exposed to, if you experienced pain, you were either told not to feel it, or that you were told that it was a bad thing, like you avoid pain, or you avoid anything that’s tough or difficult. And therefore, a lot of us, our initial reaction to pain, or challenges, or anything that’s slightly difficult is resistance, distraction, or numbing. And I think we choose to numb ourselves through whether it’s television, through whether it’s fast food, or whatever the outlet may be, because we’d rather not experience the pain, but what we don’t realize is that the pain doesn’t go away by hiding it, it goes away by facing it.
[19:58] And if you think about the planet we live on today, we try and hide oil spills, and trash piles, and plastic piles everywhere in the world, but if you ever watched a documentary, you see that those piles are not hidden at all, and they’re just getting bigger and bigger. And so, if you try and hide your pains inside of yourself, they’re just growing stronger and stronger, and bigger and bigger as well. And so it’s hard because we’ve been trained to do the opposite of what we really need to do, and we also are not sh…we’ve also not been shared into the practices that can simplify some of these things to make them part of our natural routine, so one of my favorite things to really simplify a lot of this is a principle called “location has energy, time has memory.” It’s something we learned as monks that you do something at the same place every day, it becomes easier, and if you do something at the same time everyday, it becomes easier. And so location starts to have energy. If you think about your home, the energy of your bedroom should be relaxing. The energy of your kitchen should be vibrant. The energy of your living room should be entertainment.
[21:14] Now I’m saying it should be, it doesn’t have to be; you may say, “Jay, actually I don’t want my kitchen to be vibrant, I want it to be calming,” that’s fine. But each of the areas of your home can be chosen, and curated to be a certain energy, and so we mix up the energy in our lives every day, we, we work in our bedrooms, we eat in our bedrooms, we work at the kitchen table, we sit on our phones alone in the living room, which is meant to be a space of connection, and so we’re constantly confusing the energy of our home. And so no wonder we don’t know where to meditate, or where to start a yoga practice, because each area of our home feels like it’s confused. Similarly with time; when you do something at the same time every day, it becomes easier. And for a lot of us, when we try to take on a new habit, we’re, at the beginning we’re not trying to do it at the same time so we have rhythm, we’re just trying to do it when we have time. And so it’s important that we, we really prioritize the change we want to make; you can’t, you can’t make a change in every area of your life at the same time, but you can make a change in your life if you choose one area, and truly immerse yourself in changing that area. And so I think it’s a bit of a challenge with habit formation, and it’s a bit of a challenge based on our history with habits.
[22:38] Rachel: Absolutely. Yeah, I’m nodding along over here. I’ve, I’ve actually experienced that very palpably recently in terms of locations having energy; I, I, in the middle of quarantine, I took this old guest bedroom that we had, even though we never have guests any more, threw the bed out and created a space just for practice, where, you know, no one’s allowed to do anything else. I lock the door, it’s not play room, it’s not for being on your phone, it’s a practice space. And suddenly, without thinking about, I was, found myself, almost by, you know, it just happened, immersed in this…I did 50 days of dynamic meditation. I don’t know if you…do you know dynamic meditation?
Jay: Yeah, absolutely, that’s beautiful.
Rachel: And it never would have happened if I didn’t have that space, because it became that dedicated place where where I entered, that was what I did, there was no other thing happening here. So that’s so, so, so true, in terms of creating that for ourselves in our, in our homes, and making that space sacred, and not muddying it with anything else.
Jay: Absolutely, me and my wife used to, when we first met, Rachel, me and my wife used to live in New York, and we lived in a tiny 500 square foot apartment in New York. But we made the corners spaces, so one corner was a meditation corner, and the other corner was our TV corner, and the other…you know, it’s, you don’t have to have a big home to create this, you just have to have the intention.
Rachel: Absolutely. “Location has energy, time has memory,” so [laughs] so, so, so powerful.
Jay: Thank you.
[24:11] Rachel: So another part of your, or part of your book that I think relates to times, and to habits, where you write about auditing your time…
Rachel: …is to me, I find, such a game-changer. Could you share a little bit about what auditing your time means, and how it can change your life?
Jay: Yeah, absolutely. So, I think if you asked most people in the world, “what do you value,” and…let’s do it with you Rachel, let’s ask you. So Rachel, what’s the thing that…
Rachel: Oh no! [Laughs]
Jay: …you value [laughs] what’s, what’s the thing you value the most…
Rachel: My family.
Jay: …in the world? Your family.
Rachel: My family.
Jay: Perfect, okay, great. And of your spare time [laughs], of your time outside of work, because everyone needs to work and pay for bills, and everyone needs to have a career, so outside of that, how much, what percentage of your time after that do you think you spend with your family?
Rachel: I mean, pre-corona, it was much less than I would have preferred. Probably…
Rachel: …yeah, probably 30, 40 percent, or something like that?
Jay: Great, so thank you for being honest, first of all.
[25:19] Jay: I really appreciate that, and, and by the way, mine’s the same, so my answer of what I value is my family’s definitely high up there too, and, and everyone’s percentage is never completely aligned. And so now, Rachel, the next question I have for you is, now that obviously you are spending more time with them, is what do you think has been the block for you from spending time with your family pre-corona?
Rachel: I mean I think it was the fact that my, my work was bleeding into the rest of my life. It wasn’t like I had eight, nine to five or whatever, and then come home, but that I found myself constantly distracted by the idea of, of having to complete things, or succeed with something, or I was just immersed in a lot of projects that I didn’t dedicate in a space and time, I guess.
Jay: Yeah, completely, and I, I can totally relate to that personally as well. So, what do you think, pre-corona again, what do you think —or maybe something you discovered during this lockdown time — what do you think has been the most meaningful time that you’ve spent with your family? Not the most time, but where do you think you’ve had the most meaningful connection with your family?
Rachel: Yeah, when I’m not distracted. When I’m not…when there’s no phone, no screen, no TV, nothing pulling us into another, another location, when it’s totally present and just…. And it doesn’t have to be exciting or special, you know…
Rachel: …like a trip, or something wild; those day-to-day, mundane moments where I’m really there, those are the most meaningful, I think.
[26:55] Jay: That’ beautiful. See, just having an awareness of that means you can now start creating and prioritizing, and for everyone who’s listening right now, a time audit, as we just showed through Rachel doing it, is asking yourself, “what do I really value,” and then asking yourself beyond your normal work hours that everyone has to do, how much time do you actually dedicate to that? Because a lot of us will say, “family,” but then as Rachel was honest, you know, we’re only spending 30 percent of our time with our family in our spare time, or someone may say to me, “Jay, this new business, this new passion I have, is what I value the most.” And then you ask them, “well, what do you do with your weekends?” And they say, “oh, well, you know, on my weekend I’m just, I don’t know, I’m at the beach, or I’m just hanging out with my friends,” or whatever it may be. So for so many of us, our values just don’t align with how we think we want to spend our time. And so, there’s a beautiful message from Gandhi where he said that harmony and peace are experienced when what you think, what you say, and what you do are aligned. Now how may of us know that sometimes we think something, we say something else, and we do something completely different [laughs].
[28:11] Jay: Right? How many of us know that sometimes, we do something, we think something else, and we say something completely different? But here’s something I share in my book, so researchers have found that by the end of our lives, on average, each of us will spend 33 years in bed, seven years of which will be spent trying to sleep.
Jay: A year…right? A year and four months exercising, and more than three years on vacation. Now, if you’re a woman, you generally spend 136 days getting ready, and if you’re a man, you spend about 46 days getting ready. And these are just estimates, of course, it’s just based on daily choices, but if you start to realize researchers estimate that on the average, each of us will spend more than 11 years of our lives looking at a TV and social media, right? And so you think about, and you go, “oh, it’s not that I don’t have enough time, it’s that I’m not prioritizing what’s truly important to me.” And so when you do a time audit, you get the most honest answer to the question, “what do you value?” And so if you think you might be lying to yourself, or if you think sometimes you can fool yourself, if you do a time audit, it’ll become really clear, and even more than a time audit, you can do a money audit, and see where you spend your money. Because where you spend your time and money, is what you really value, even it’s not what you say you value.
[29:40] Rachel: So, so true. And I tried this this weekend, actually, with my husband, just on this chapter of Time Audit, because we’ve had a, we’ve had a little bit of quarreling lately in terms of not having enough time with each other, and we have a three year old, and a business, and a lot of thinking going on, and with coronavirus, it’s harder for us to go out on date night and things like that. And he’s been particularly a little, you know, “we need to really make sure we get more time together.” And then I did this over the weekend and I just found that both days — and I think this is probably pretty much almost every single day —both him and I, the moment our daughter goes to bed, we have about, like 45 minutes where we, we call it like, “checking in” where we sit on the couch, on our phones, staring at a screen [laughs].
Rachel: And, you know, answering messages, or he reads the news on his Dutch news app, or whatever he does, but we’re sitting there at this dedicated time, you know, wasting time doing something different, where we could totally be having a genuine conversation, or having date night, and then we complain that we don’t have the time. So it’s, it was a really nice way to just like, “oh, and this was a small part of my day and I can fix it,” you know, by…
Rachel: …by aligning that more with what our actual needs and values are.
[30:56] Jay: Yeah, and there’s another thing there, Rachel, that you beautifully talked about, it’s something in the book that I talk about, which is the difference between communicating what we actually want, especially in our relationships. So me and my wife, we don’t have a child yet, but obviously we’ve been spending time together during the lockdown. And in the beginning of lockdown, which was new to us, we also had to set new boundaries, and new expectations of each other because we’ve never been in this position before, and it required some adapting. But here’s the thing with relationships that a lot of us say we want time from our partners, but no one really just wants time, and what I mean by that is what you do with your partner, for example, when you’re sitting there on your phone and he’s on his Dutch news app, or you’re doing your time, you’re spending time, but you’re not giving each other energy. And what we’re really looking for in life is to experience an exchange of energy, not just an exchange of time.
[31:57] So, if me and you just sat here for an hour or however long we’re going to record for, and I was distracted on my phone, and you were distracted with anything else that you were up to, we would have spent time, but we wouldn’t have shared energy, and what I’ve realized is, people are really looking for energy, presence, and, and intimacy, that’s what we’re really looking for from our partners. And when I say intimacy, I don’t just mean in a, in a physical way, I mean in a, in a mental and emotional way to really feel understood and understanding the other person. And so when you think about it that way, you start to realize that we’re not really communicating what we truly want, and in the Relationships chapter in Think Like a Monk, I talk about this Harvard table where — anyone can Google this, just Google “emotional words, Harvard” — and it’s something I’ve referred to as “emotional vocabulary.
[32:53] So most of us when we’re asked, you know, “what would you like?” we say “time.” Or if we’re told, “oh yeah, how was your day, or week?” We have five words in our vocabulary that we use: okay, good, fine, bad, hmm. Right? So if someone goes, “how’s your week been?” “Okay.” “How’s your day going?” “Good.” “How's everything?” “Bad.” “How are you doing?” “Hmm.” Right? These are like our, our natural vocabulary is so limited that we rarely actually express to people what we truly want and need. And so the emotional vocabulary table by Harvard, it shows you that inside every basic emotion we use, there are so many more meanings to it. So the word sad, we hear sad a lot, “I feel sad, I’m sad, I’m,” you know, “I’m feeling a bit sad right now,” but sad could mean so many things. Are you upset? Are you offended? Are you irritated? Are you disappointed? You know, all of these words are so much more indicative and clarifying of how you genuinely feel. And so especially with our partners, there’s such a need that we deeply diagnose how we feel, and we share that with them so they can actually understand what we need, and we can actually express to them what we need.
[34:17] Rachel: Mmm. This is so…it’s so true, and can make such a difference in real, in practice in real life. It’s reminding me of, I have a teacher of mine in trauma healing, we do trauma healing retreats and then things together, whenever we have a participant that we’re doing work with and she asks, “and how do you feel about that?” Or something, and the person says, “good,” or, “bad.” Then she goes, “and good means?”
Rachel: And then gets totally quiet, you know, and the person has to really think, “oh, well good means, oh it makes me feel warm inside,” or, “it makes me feel safe here,” or, you know, to really get into that place of, “what is it actually changing inside of me?” Or, “what is it that’s, that’s, that’s moving inside of me, right now?” And it’s a little…
Jay: Oh, that’s beautiful, I love that. I love that.
Rachel: Yeah, and it works. And it’s such a simple thing, it’s just, “and good means?”
Rachel: “Oh, actually…” But it’s, it’s kind of like, do you think people are, because we get those questions all the time, right? “So how are you doing?” Do you think people are expecting, are they ready for that real, genuine, true answer? Because we have so many of these interactions with people all day long, and I find oftentimes, they are this standard, kind of surface, you know…if I were to go in and say to you, “how’re doing?” And I say, “well actually,” you know, “here’s what’s moving in my heart right now,” I think a lot of people would be really overwhelmed.
[35:36] Rachel: Do you think, do you think that that’s real? Yeah. Are we, are we more of a surface society, or are we getting deeper?
Jay: I don’t, I don’t think it’s natural to get deep with everyone, and there’s not a need to do that at all, and therefore I think it’s much more with our closer relationships, and relationships that we spend more time with, and that we naturally trust; I don’t think there’s a need for us to open up to everyone, but we definitely should be opening up to the people that we’re closest to, and I think that’s where I’m noticing the challenge, that we’re not often engaging personally even the people that are meant to be the closest to us.
Rachel: Mmm. Yeah, yeah. And of course I mean it’s different for different people to open up, some people are naturally more, it’s good to have that in a relationship though. I think maybe with you and your wife, she seems very extroverted, and I think with me and my husband, I’m kind of the extroverted one, he’s a little more quiet. So finding that balance in a couple I think is also, probably makes it a little easier to, to have those conversations, too.
Jay: Oh, for sure, absolutely.
[36:37 — Commercial Break]
[37:52] Rachel: So something I really wanted to answer — and this is like a bit of a, a selfish question, actually — but you have so many people that you talk to in the online world all day long, I mean you have millions and millions, countless followers on so many platforms, which I know is a lot of energy, you know, I have a, a bit of that as well; how can thinking like a monk help us navigate social media?
Jay: Yeah, that’s a great question. One of the ways that thinking like a monk can definitely help us engage better with social media is to not look at our phones first thing in the morning.
Jay: So when we, when we were monks, we didn’t have phones…
Jay: …to look at first thing in the morning, and, and we woke up to natural sounds, and it was such a beautiful experience. And so I really believe that everyone should go and get a real alarm clock, like one of the old day alarm clocks. I’m, I’m fortunate that I’ve trained my body to wake me up without any sound or alarm, but if, if you’re not doing that, then it’s really important, and I first trained myself to wake up, so I went onto Amazon, and I remember buying this Timex alarm clock — I have nothing, I have no endorsement to Timex, just to clarify…
[39:06] Jay: …it won’t help me if you buy a Timex alarm clock, but buying an alarm clock that just allows you to leave your phone in another room, or leave your phone on the other side of the table, or just a way in which you don’t feel wired to your phone first thing in the morning, because guess what? When you pick up your phone, first thing in the morning, you are now starting your day off reactively; people are sending you messages, people are sending you different notifications. So you now are not starting the day feeling centered and grounded, and you’re not starting the day inside out, you’re starting the day outside in. And so you’re already starting the day on everyone else’s agenda, on everyone else’s priority, on everyone else’s focus, and how can you have a successful day when you haven’t even had a chance to center yourself? So it’s really important that you don’t look at your phone first thing in the morning, but, you have to replace it with something that does inspire you. So I believe waking up to a quote that really, that you love, and feel connected to, waking up to a picture or an image that you feel connected to, it’s so important that the first thing you see in the morning and the last thing you see at night is something that you want to see, is something that really fills you with joy. So it’s really important that you do that in the morning.
[40:24] The second thing, I’d say, how thinking like a monk can help is with our time on social media is that you want to really curate your news feed. So monks are very good at curating the experiences that they have in their life, and more importantly the thoughts that they allow to enter into their life. So it’s really important that you’ve created your feed to see only what you want to see. And people say, “ oh, well, you know, I have to follow this person because they’re my friend,” or not, sorry, not you’re friend, you say, “I need to follow this person because if I don’t, they’ll be offended,” well that’s fine, you can do that, but there’s also a function where you can curate your feed so their, their posts don’t always show up on your page if you don’t like seeing them.
[41:10] So it’s so important to just as we have to select our thoughts, we have to select who we follow, and what we see on our social media posts and profiles so that they become a part of helping us grow, rather than pulling us down. And the third and final way that thinking like a monk can help us with our habits on social media is to always ask ourselves when we catch ourselves on social media, we ask ourselves, “why am I on social media?” And if you can’t give yourself a good enough answer, then move away. If most of us are spending mindless time scrolling because we don’t know why we’re on social media — and if you know why you’re on social media, then that’s great. If you have a good reason to be there, be there. But if you don’t have a good reason, don’t waste your time there.
Rachel: Mmm, that’s a good one. Does social media ever steal your peace?
[42:02] Jay: Oh, for sure, I think for anyone who has a social media account, social media can steal their peace, whether it’s something negative, or whether it’s something positive. Even if you’re checking how many views something gets, or how many likes something gets, even that can be completely, you know, distracting. And I’ve seen for me that just setting clear rules about what I call “no technology zones” in your home, and “no technology times” in your day. So set zones in your home where you don’t use technology. So you may say that the bedroom and the kitchen, no phones allowed, because it’s better to eat and sleep with people, I don’t want to waste my time with a phone in those ares. And you may say that before 9am, and after 6pm, I’m not going to be on my phone. Those are really positive parameters. Now, you may fail at the regularly, I fail at that all the time, but just having the boundary stops you from doing it, and it keeps giving you something to come back to.
[43:02] Rachel: Yeah, and I mean especially when, during times like this when there’s so much happening in the world, and I think we have a lot of challenges right now, globally, in terms of mental health; people are not only stuck at home, but they’re anxious, and bored, and worried for our future and for the future of, of our families, and I think the world as a whole. I was reading in, in, in your book about the Stanford, the Stanford study about people writing about a negative experience, and how just thinking about something negative made them likelier to act in a negative way, and it just made me think about, “well, what about social media, when all we see is bad, sometimes?” I feel like I can have all day and all the things that come through sometimes are fear, or worry, or negativity, you know? What does that, or how does that affect us on such a global level?
[43:52] Jay: Yeah, that’s such a, I’m glad you brought up that study, and it just shows us that, you know, what you see is a choice, but what you think about what you see is definitely a choice, and I really think that there’s a…technique that I talk about in the book that I think really helps this, it’s called Spot, Stop, Swap. So Rachel, repeat that after me: spot, stop, swap.
Rachel: Spot, stop, swap.
Jay: Brilliant. Perfect. So, so spot — in my British accent — so spot, stop, swap, you can repeat it to yourself, it’s good to remember it. Now, one of the things that we always talk about here is that we’re not trying to have, I was speaking to a teacher yesterday on, doing a live with them, and he was saying it’s good to not have toxic positivity. He was saying there’s a difference between positivity and toxic positivity; his name’s Guar Gopal and he makes social media content too, and he was just saying that, and he’s a monk, he’s a living monk right now, and so what he was saying is there’s a difference between positivity and toxic positivity. And toxic positivity is where we force ourselves to be artificially positive. And so, if you’re having a negative thought, you don’t just make it positive by thinking, “be positive, be positive, be positive.” A good thing to use is this technique called Spot, Stop, Swap. So what you want to do is every time you are having a negative experience, or a negative thought or emotion, first spot where are you? Why is it happening? And what is it triggering? What is triggering this to happen?
[45:25] So let’s say the answer is social media, and you find yourself, you’re on a particular account, or you’re following a particular person and that’s when it arises. Now, now you want to stop and reflect, and go, “why am I feeling this way? Is it because of something that I need to change? Do I just need to distance myself from this account at the moment, is that going to help me?” And then finally, you swap it for a new habit, you swap it for an alternative. You know, for me, it was like, good example of someone that I worked with was that, you know, they were always addicted to checking the sports scores, and they found that it really triggered them when their team was losing, right? If their team was losing, they were having a bad day. And they would take it our on their partner, they would take it out on their friends, and so they realized that that was the moment that triggered them. So what they decided to do from now is that they would never check the scores when they were with their partner, and that’s how they swapped it, but they could still do it at a different time. So learning how to spot your trigger, and your weakness, actually helps you deal with it better, rather than avoiding it, or just trying to change it.
[46:34] Rachel: And how does this…because I mean this makes, makes so much sense, and also that we can, we can change who we follow online, we can choose to follow people who make us feel good, or who share inspiring things that, that are constructive to us in our lives, that don’t make us feel jealous or triggered, or all of this of course. But what about things that, you know, that are negative because they are inherently bad, and it’s good for us to know that they exist? So a good example fo that, this year, Black Lives Matter, systemic racism, all the, the many injustices that happen in the world where it’s, “okay, we don’t want to pretend it’s all butterflies and rainbows anyway.” So how do we allow ourselves to sit with something that’s negative and hard and bad without allowing it to, I guess, make our actions also negative, or dark, or bad?
[47:24] Jay: Yeah, absolutely. I think the best thing with that is to learn about those things in places where you’re getting the answers that you’re really looking for; it may be a recommended website, it may be a particular public figure that you think has a really interesting opinion on it. It’s trying to get some really deeper research about it, and it may be triggered through a good post on social media. And, and the second thing I really believe is when you feel you’re part of the solution, you don’t feel the negativity of the problem, you really try and help. And so whatever that means to you when you feel you’re being a part of the change, you’re feeling you’re being a part of helping others or supporting others, then you don’t feel the negativity of a problem, or a challenge, you start feeling the momentum of it. And so for me, I always look to “how can a serve?” And a service could be calling up one friend and having a phone conversation, or it could be helping your local charity, or helping or supporting a local activist, or whatever it may be, like there are so many different ways of helping. And so I think it’s important to find your way of serving, and as soon as you slot into trying to serve and support, you don’t feel it the same any more.
[48:41] Rachel: Mmm, yeah, and to be, to feel purposeful in that, in that challenging area.
Jay: Yeah, exactly! Like, yeah, if you look for service, and meaning, and purpose, you’ll always find it. If you look for positivity and happiness, you may not always find that.
Rachel: I think, I think a lot of people, something that is beautiful coming out of this year, at least I’m seeing it a lot in my local community is that so many people are immersed in service now in ways I think they weren’t before. We are more aware of the issues that are happening around the world, and I think finding service is one of those really…or being of service is one of those ways to really feel purposeful in our lives. And I mean, you have a podcast called “On Purpose,” you talk about finding your purpose, or the idea of purpose in the book as well. For someone who maybe right now is listening and really doesn’t feel that way, maybe had their lives totally thrown off track through coronavirus, or maybe just feels like, “I don’t know if I really have a life purpose,” do you have any advice for someone who’s navigating that right now?
[49:44] Jay: Yeah, absolutely. First of all, I feel a deep sense of love and compassion for anyone who’s had their life turned upside down during this time; everyone’s had their life challenged and changed, but if you’ve really had your life turned upside down, then I, you know, that, that’s a really though situation to be in, and I hope anyone who’s in that position has loving friends, and support, and potentially even just whatever they can to get them out of that. But if you’re feeling stuck about finding your life purpose, just know that you’re not alone. It’s a, it’s a very common feeling. And actually feeling stuck about your purpose is actually the start of the strategic path to your purpose. If you’re feeling stuck, it means that you’re accepting that what you currently are living is not your purpose. So that actually is Step One, and I think people often think that that’s like they’re going in the wrong direction, or, you know, going opposite to where they need to, but actually, that means that you’re on the right path.
[50:44] The second thing I like to talk about is how purpose is like an adult, but passion is like the teenager, interest is like the child, and curiosity is like the womb. So, the, the womb of the, like the curiosity is the spark, the womb of where interest, passion and purpose are born. And so, first of all if you think about it, just obsessing about purpose is too big a concept to wrap your head around, and that’s where it feels like this pressure, and it feels like this burden. And even passion sometimes, people are like, “Jay, I don’t know what I’m passionate about, I don’t know where to start,” so then start with your interest, and start with your curiosity; you may just have a spark of curiosity of something you’re interested in, and if you just follow that, and you allow yourself to just go with it, you may discover that it grows into an interest. So anther way of looking at it is that curiosity is the soil in which the seed of an interest is planted; it grows into a tree, and then the fruits and the flowers are the purpose. And so it’s really important to realize you don’t just grow the tree on day one, you go step by step, so I would really start at what you’re curious on.
[52:05] The second thing is as you find what you’re curious about, and it turns into and interest, it’s really important that you develop becoming really good at it. It’s really important that we value expertise and skills development. You may need coaching, you may need classes, you may need a personal trainer, whatever it is for your personal passion, it’s really important that it also turns into an expertise through practice and coaching. And then the final step, which turns it into a purpose, this is how it works: passion plus expertise plus compassion equals purpose. So when you add compassion to your passion, when you find a way to use your passion in the service of others, that’s when it becomes a purpose.
[52:51] So your purpose is not to take pictures: your passion is to take pictures, and when you beautiful pictures that inspire other people, and you use it to serve and inspire other people, that’s when it becomes a purpose. So remember that: don’t focus on trying to find your purpose, break down the equation, and first finding your passion, which starts with curiosity, then find your expertise by beginning off with learning and development, and then find your compassion, which is where is the problem you want to solve? What is the pain that you want to heal in the world? What is the challenge that you want to help people to overcome? When you add compassion to your expertise and your passion, that’s when you find your purpose.
Rachel: You’re blowing my mind right now. Spoken like a true monk.
Jay: Oh, thank you…
Jay: …I’m just trying to simplify it for people, I just want people tor realize that it’s a lot more simple.
Rachel: Oh, my God, but it’s so rare to get a, you know…because it’s such a big question, and it’s vey abstract, the idea of purposefulness, and what, why am I here, and what am I meant to do with my life, and to get it broken down almost in a recipe-like way, like…
Rachel: …follow the steps. How beautiful is that? Because everyone is curious about something…
Rachel: …you know?
Jay: Yes, absolutely. Yeah, we might not be passionate yet, but we’re definitely curious.
[54:10] Rachel: We’re definitely curious. And oftentimes, and of course it’s hard to sit with that in the middle of it, but those really challenging times when everything get’s flipped upside down, you know, usually are the ones where we get to open up into a space where maybe we can be curious about something new, right? Having that loss of normalcy, and regular day-to-day routine, it can be hard, I think, to find what that curiosity is, or what that interest is that becomes the passion. So, hopefully a lot of us are finding new opportunities in the challenge too, and not just a year of, of, of unbearable loss. On a, you know, this is a hard, hard question, but I’ve been asking all my guests this year, you know, on a spiritual, big scale level, what is your take on 2020, you know? Is the world ending, or is it beginning again; do you have any big…
Rachel: …big ideas on why we are where we are right now?
[55:06] Jay: Well first of all, I’d just like to say that, you know, my, my thoughts are just my reflections, they, they don’t represent the truth or fact in any way, it’s just all I can do, and I really just feel that 2020 has been a year of reflection, growth, and on a spiritual level, it’s really been an awakening. I always think about how, you know, sometimes we press the snooze button in the morning, and the alarm has to get louder and louder every time to help us wake up, and help us reflect, and help us ask the right questions. And even though it’s been really difficult, and even though it’s been really tough, I think it’s made a lot of us ask the right questions. Now, like I said, if your life’s been turned upside down, hey, those of us who, whose life hasn’t been turned upside down to the same degree, it’s our responsibility to come and serve and support. But if you’re somewhere in the middle, I’m hoping that, you know, it’s helped us really asked ourselves, “what’s important? What’s truly valuable? What do I want to do in my life? How can I make a difference? What are the things I need to change?”
[56:16] And when lockdown started, I was teaching these daily live meditations, and I did about 40 days of, on Instagram and Facebook Live, of just teaching meditation every day, and we had about 20 million people join in the 40 days. And the feedback from 90 percent of the people that joined was “Jay, I’ve never meditated before, but now I’m learning.” And so what happens in tough times is we develop the muscle that will help us deal with future tough time. And so difficult times help us build the muscles and the skills and the strengths that will help us overcome future tough times. And there is so much greatness in that, because we develop the skills that we once thought we could avoid, but now we actually build them up so that they can actually be useful to us in the future. So my only hope is that the help us develop the skills and abilities that are going to serve us all in the future.
Rachel: Mmm. I hope so too. I mean, and we are seeing that, I think, with so, in so many places across the world, the resilience of people getting stronger, and picking up the pieces, and starting again, you know…
Rachel: …there is something very hopeful in what’s happening this year too. So thank you so much, I mean this has been, you know, I feel like I need to transcribe this podcast so I can write some of it on my fridge…
Rachel: …and go step by step. But for everybody listening now, and me included, you know, how can, how can we be of service to you today?
[57:48] Jay: Aw, that’s such a sweet question, and, and to be honest, this has been a complete joy, I, you know, this, the answers I’ve given have been inspired by your desire to really listen, and ask such wonderful questions, so first of all I’m so grateful to you, Rachel, and so happy that, you know, we’ve been able to do this together, and create this together, it’s definitely been collaboration, it’s not one way at all. And to be honest I’d say if anyone has been touched by this conversation, if my videos have ever had any impact on you, or my podcasts have ever had any impact on you, my humble request is that the best way to make a difference right now is to continue to try and make a difference in someone else’s life. That’s the best way you can serve me, or anyone, and you don’t need to serve me, but based on Rachel’s question, I think if you become a monk in your mindset, and pass that mindset on to others, I think that’s the most beautiful thing that I could ever request because a monk’s mind is one of compassion, is one of love and understanding, and I think those are three things we can all agree are really needed in the world right now. And so if you learn to think like a monk, and help others think like a monk, then, then that would be the most amazing thing, and I’d, I’d deeply appreciate it.
Rachel: How beautiful. And of course, everyone, I know you, you so desperately want this book now. It’s out in September, but you can get it on thinklikeamonkbook.com, and of course follow Jay across all the social media platforms, and take part in his amazing inspiration every day. Thank you so much Jay, I appreciate you so much, and for all the light you share with the world every day, it’s not unnoticed. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Jay: Thank you.
[59:31 — End of Episode]