What’s the secret to a happy life? Is it money? Fame? The perfect relationship? Can you find it in a job? A new house? A fancy car?
The truth is, the potential for happiness is already inside all of us. It’s not about anything external. It’s about what’s going on in your mind.
When it comes to finding happiness, peace, and purpose, mindfulness is key. You have the power to cultivate a mindset and a lifestyle of peace and happiness by retraining your brain. And in the stressful time of a global pandemic, it’s more important than ever to work on finding that deep inner peace we all desire.
My guest today is here to teach us all how to cultivate the habits that create happiness. As a former monk, my close friend Jay Shetty has a unique perspective on cultivating a mindset, lifestyle, and daily routine to help achieve happiness and success. This episode is inspiring, informative, and uplifting. Let’s get started!
Jay Shetty is a School of Greatness luminary and one of my closest friends. He’s a leader and influential mindfulness coach, as well as an award-winning author and popular podcaster.
Jay’s journey started when he was 21 years old and he became a monk. He started slowly — spending half his summer vacations in India — but ultimately, he spent three years living as a monk full-time. He meditated for anywhere from four to eight hours a day, studied wisdom, and served the local community in India. Jay learned a lot from those years, but eventually, he knew a different life was calling him.
Jay left India with a lot of wisdom and a passion for sharing it with others. He developed online courses in wisdom and mindfulness that have since been viewed by over two million people. He started a coaching business that has helped countless people achieve success and develop greater happiness. And he began speaking publicly about “The Monk Mindset” to inspire and empower people to well-being and the kind of passion and joy we all crave.
As if all that wasn’t enough, Jay also launched the wildly popular podcast, On Purpose. (You can check out his interview with yours truly here!) There, he interviews a variety of inspiring people and shares his own valuable insights to help listeners live a life of greater purpose.
And finally, Jay has recently released his first book, Think Like a Monk. There’s a tremendous amount of wisdom in this book. Jay’s teaching us all how to overcome fear and anxiety to live lives of courage and compassion. I know you’re going to want to read it cover to cover!
But first, Jay Shetty is sharing a ton of his wisdom and insight right here on The School of Greatness. Let’s dive in.
I was so excited to have Jay on the podcast — particularly now that he’s published Think Like a Monk — because I knew he’d have a lot of wisdom to share. I especially wanted to ask him about mindfulness. I hear the term “mindfulness” a lot, but I knew Jay would bring an interesting perspective to the table, and he didn’t fail to deliver.
“When I hear the word ‘mindfulness,’ to me, what it really means is intentionality. What I mean by that is — are you crafting, designing, and intentionally creating your life? Or are you just coasting in the passenger seat of your life, which is just dragging you and driving you wherever it’s taking you?” – Jay Shetty
What a powerful question. Are you intentionally creating your life, or are you letting life drive you wherever it wants? Happiness and peace are not going to happen to you all by themselves — You have to create an environment where you can experience those positive emotions.
When it comes to creating a life and an environment of happiness, Jay says there are three S’s that we need to think about:
“There’s something in the book that I talk about called ‘The Three S’s,’ which are sights, scents, and sounds. And if you think about that — we’re exposed to sights, scents, and sounds every single day … but how many of us have crafted those to be sights, scents, and sounds that we want in our life?” – Jay Shetty
Jay used the example of our alarm clocks to illustrate how the sounds in our environment affect our mindsets. When we wake up to an “alarm,” we’re literally starting the day with our brain feeling alarmed. What if, instead, we used nature sounds or a favorite song that brings us joy to wake up? That would be one way to craft an environment of happiness.
I’m reminded of my friend Chris Lee. Chris said you want to create an environment like a rain forest where things can thrive and grow as opposed to having an environment like a desert where things go to die. Think about ways you can craft the sight, scents, and sounds of your environment in ways that allow you to grow and thrive. When you do that, you’re practicing mindfulness and cultivating peace and happiness.
I’m going to share with you the same five words I shared with Jay: beliefs, thoughts, words, actions, and intentions. I genuinely believe that the results we get, our feelings, and our whole lives come down to those five things. I asked Jay to talk about each of those from his perspective, and he brought plenty of wisdom to the table.
The key to beliefs, as Jay puts it, is to “realize everyone has them.” Everyone has their own set of beliefs — and they may or may not fit into a particular religion. And the best thing to do when you encounter beliefs that are different from your own is to ask questions.
“Questions are the most powerful invention in the world because questions either strengthen or weaken a belief based on the information. … A question is not to put someone down. A question is not to mislead people. A question is to uplift yourself and others.” – Jay Shetty
Don’t be afraid to ask other people about their beliefs. If you’re curious about something, ask a question! You might learn something new that brings you into better alignment with yourself or a better understanding of the world around you.
Research has shown over and over again that the way we think and talk to ourselves in our minds has a massive effect on our mindset and attitude. If we think positive thoughts, we take positive actions, and we build positive lives. Jay has another three S’s we should all keep in mind when it comes to our thoughts.
“My favorite technique that I talk about in the book is called Spot, Stop, Swap. … Thoughts are meant to be spotted, [stopped and reflected on], and then [swapped].” – Jay Shetty
Say you have a repeating negative thought like, “I’m not good enough.” The first step is to spot that thought — notice that you’re having it. Put it in words, and even write it down. Then you need to stop and reflect. Is that thought serving you? Is it helping you become the person you desire to be? Or is it dragging you down into anxiety and fear?
I guarantee you that thoughts like, “I’m not good enough” are not serving you. So once you’ve spotted and stopped that thought, it’s time to swap out that thought for a different one that’s true. And be careful here — I’m not saying you should lie to yourself, or immediately try to think the opposite thought. If you try to think, “I’m good enough! I’m amazing!” you’ll probably start to feel discouraged when you can’t maintain that thought pattern all the time, and you’ll fall back into feeling like you’re not good enough. But if you swap that negative thought for something true, such as, “I feel confident when I (you fill in the blank),” you’ll start developing much more positive thought patterns.
When it comes to words, Jay says we need to shake it up. Too often, we use the same words over and over again to describe our feelings. “I’m sad” isn’t very descriptive. We need to expand our emotional vocabulary and start using a greater variety of words to describe how we’re feeling.
“Are you irritated? Are you offended? Are you disappointed? Have you been let down? The more you expand your emotional vocabulary, the more you can diagnose how you feel.” – Jay Shetty
When we can more accurately diagnose how we’re feeling, we can clearly communicate our emotions to our partners, friends, and families. And when we can speak clearly about our feelings, we cultivate intimacy and strength in our relationships.
If you’re looking for the right words to use to describe a feeling, Jay recommends checking out Harvard’s list of emotions. Researchers at Harvard have created this list of powerful words that describe a whole range of emotions from anger to embarrassment to happiness. Check out the list and start using some new words to communicate your feelings to those closest to you more accurately.
Here’s the thing about actions — according to Jay Shetty, they have to be habits-oriented. Your actions should be geared toward creating positive habits that help you cultivate happiness in your life.
“So if you want to change an action in your life, it needs to be a big priority. And then you need to break it down into small steps.” – Jay Shetty
Changing your actions and habits is the same as changing your thoughts. If you try to do a 180 and change everything all at once, you’re going to end up discouraged and find the changes unsustainable. Instead, it’s about making small changes one step at a time.
If you want to start working out and getting physically fit, don’t immediately set a goal of spending three hours a day at the gym — that’s just not realistic. But you could definitely make it a plan to go for a walk every day or drink water instead of soda when you go out to eat! Those kinds of small changes add up to healthy habits that ultimately change your life, but you have to build those habits slowly over time.
When we got to the subject of intentions during our conversation, Jay brought up a really beautiful quote by the Dalai Lama: “We are born to help people. And if we can’t help them, let’s at least not hurt them.”
“And I think that’s the intention that you want to leave every person happier than you found them, leave every place cleaner than you found it, leave every project more productive than you found it. … People feel that when you just leave a place and all you want to do is give your energy in a positive way.” – Jay Shetty
What are your intentions when you enter a space? Are you there to see what value you will get to take away? Or are you looking for ways to bring value to others?
This is where all of these five elements come together into a recipe for ultimate happiness, success, and peace: If you’re orienting your beliefs, thoughts, words, actions, and intentions around compassion, kindness, and mindfulness, your energy will uplift the people around you. As a result, you’ll lift yourself up and experience the happiness and peace you desire.
Friends, this episode was incredible. Every time I sit down with Jay, I feel like the conversation could go on for hours — that’s how much wisdom this guy has to share!
Jay’s already been on this show a couple of times (on episodes 608 and 953, if you’re interested!), so we’ve already gotten his three truths and definition of greatness. So today, I wanted to ask Jay something a little different. I asked him to tell me the difference between discovering and living your purpose versus living a purposeful life, and he shared some truly inspirational words:
“I think that living your purpose is where it’s … about you and your journey, and living a purposeful life is where you’re now letting that overflow into everyone else’s life.” – Jay Shetty
Those words are powerful. It’s essential to focus on your own journey and find ways to share your life with others. I want to encourage you to start cultivating the mindfulness of a monk in your life so that you can grow your happiness and let it overflow into the lives of the people you love.
And don’t forget to check out Jay’s new book, Think Like a Monk, or his podcast, On Purpose. Both are absolutely full of wisdom that will teach you how to grow your happiness and create a more fulfilling, successful, and joyful life.
But stick around here just a little longer! If you’re ready to learn more about how you can build mindfulness, overcome your fears, and start living a happier, more purposeful life, check out Episode 1003 with Jay Shetty!