Think Like a Monk: Train Your Mind for Peace and Purpose Every Day by Jay Shetty

These were my favorite passages so far from reading Think Like a Monk: Train Your Mind for Peace and Purpose Every Day by Jay Shetty 

“Falling in love” is an expression used almost exclusively to describe romantic relationships. But that night, as I  listened to the monk talk about his experience, I fell in love. 

“He was intelligent, eloquent, and charismatic. He spoke about the principle of “selfless sacrifice.” When he said that we should plant trees under whose shade we did not plan to sit, I felt an unfamiliar thrill run through my body.” 

“But instead of being an embittered failure, he appeared joyous, confident, and at peace. In fact, he seemed happier than anyone I’d ever met. At the age of eighteen, I had encountered a lot of people who were rich. I’d listened to a lot of people who were famous, strong, good-looking, or all three. But I don’t think I’d met anyone who was truly happy. Afterward, I pushed my way through the crowds to tell him how amazing he was, and how much he’d inspired me.” 

“Researchers who scanned Buddhist monk Matthieu Ricard’s brain subsequently labeled him “the World’s  Happiest Man” after they found the highest level of gamma waves—those associated with attention, memory,  learning, and happiness—ever recorded by science. One monk who’s off the charts may seem like an anomaly,  but Ricard isn’t alone. Twenty-one other monks who had their brains scanned during a variety of meditation practices also showed gamma wave levels that spiked higher and lasted longer (even during sleep) than non meditators.” 

“I turned to subjects that traditional Indian parents don’t generally favor, like art, design, and philosophy.”

“Albert Einstein said, “If you can’t explain something simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” When I saw how relevant the lessons I was learning were to the modern world, I wanted to dive deeper into them so that I  could share them with other people.” 

“Three years after I moved to Mumbai, my teacher, Gauranga Das, told me he believed I would be of greater value and service if I left the ashram and shared what I’d learned with the world.” 

“These days I still consider myself a monk, though I usually refer to myself as a “former” monk, since I’m married, and monks aren’t permitted to marry. I live in Los Angeles, which people tell me is one of the world capitals of materialism, facade, fantasy, and overall dodginess.” 

“Why?” I asked. “Because the only thing that stays with you from the moment you’re born until the moment you  die is your breath. All your friends, your family, the country you live in, all of that can change. The one thing  that stays with you is your breath.” 

“This ten-year-old monk added, “When you get stressed—what changes? Your breath. When you get angry— what changes? Your breath. We experience every emotion with the change of the breath. When you learn to  navigate and manage your breath, you can navigate any situation in life.” Already I was being taught the most important lesson: to focus on the root of things, not the leaf of the tree or symptoms of the problem. And I was learning, through direct observation, that anybody can be a monk, even if they’re only five or ten years old.” 

“It is better to live your own destiny imperfectly than to live an imitation of somebody else’s life with perfection.”  —Bhagavad Gita 3.35 

“actors become so absorbed in their character that the role takes on a life beyond the stage or screen. “I will admit  that I went mad, totally mad,” Day-Lewis said to the Independent years later, admitting the role was “not so  good for my physical or mental health.”

“Unconsciously, we’re all method acting to some degree. We have personas we play online, at work, with friends,  and at home. These different personas have their benefits. They enable us to make the money that pays our bills,  they help us function in a workplace where we don’t always feel comfortable, they let us maintain relationships with people we don’t really like but need to interact with.” 

“Even more challenging for my mother was that we were surrounded by friends and family who shared the doctor lawyer-failure definition of success. Word spread that I was making this radical move, and her friends started  saying “But you’ve invested so much in his education” and “He’s been brainwashed” and “He’s going to waste  his life.” My friends too thought I was failing at life. I heard “You’re never going to get a job again” and  “You’re throwing away any hope of earning a living.” 

“When you try to live your most authentic life, some of your relationships will be put in jeopardy. Losing them is a risk worth bearing; finding a way to keep them in your life is a challenge worth taking on.” 

“Luckily, to my developing monk mind, the voices of my parents and their friends were not the most important guidelines I used when making this decision. Instead I relied on my own experience.” 

“But every time I left the ashram I thought, That was amazing. I just had the best time of my life. Experimenting with these widely diverse experiences, values, and belief systems helped me understand my own.” 

“When we tune out the opinions, expectations, and obligations of the world around us, we begin to hear ourselves.” 

“Higher values propel and elevate us toward happiness, fulfillment, and meaning. Lower values demote us toward anxiety, depression, and suffering. According to the Gita, these are the higher values and qualities: fearlessness,  purity of mind, gratitude, service and charity, acceptance, performing sacrifice, deep study, austerity,  straightforwardness, nonviolence, truthfulness, absence of anger, renunciation, perspective, restraint from fault finding, compassion toward all living beings, satisfaction, gentleness/kindness, integrity, determination. (Notice that happiness and success are not among these values.”

“Leaves sprout, transform, and drop. Reptiles, birds, and mammals shed their skins, feathers, fur. Letting go is a  big part of the rhythm of nature, as is rebirth. We humans cling to stuff—people, ideas, material possessions,  copies of Marie Kondo’s book—thinking it’s unnatural to purge, but letting go is a direct route to space  (literally) and stillness. We separate ourselves—emotionally if not physically—from the people and ideas who fill up our lives, and then we take time to observe the natural inclinations that compel us.” 

“Who you surround yourself with helps you stick to your values and achieve your goals. You grow together. If you want to run a 2:45 marathon, you don’t train with people who run a 4:45. If you want to be more spiritual,  expand your practice with other spiritual people. If you want to grow your business, join a local chamber of commerce or an online group of business owners who are similarly driven toward that kind of success. If you’re an overworked parent who wants to make your kids your priority, cultivate relationships with other parents who prioritize their kids, so you can exchange support and advice.” 

“When you give yourself space and stillness, you can clear the dust and see yourself, not through others’ eyes, but from within. Identifying your values and letting them guide you will help you filter external influences. In the  next chapter these skills will help you filter out unwanted attitudes and emotions.” 

“I flash back to a class Gauranga Das taught called “Cancers of the Mind: Comparing, Complaining, Criticizing.”  In the class, we talked about negative thought habits, including gossip. One of the exercises we did was keeping a tally of every criticism we spoke or thought. For each one, we had to write down ten good things about the person.” 

“I went through the exercise, dutifully noting every criticism I let slip. Next to each, I jotted down ten positive qualities. The point of the exercise wasn’t hard to figure out—every person was more good than bad—but seeing it on the page made the ratio sink in. This helped me see my own weaknesses differently. I tended to focus on my mistakes without balancing them against my strengths. When I found myself being self-critical, I reminded myself that I too had positive qualities. Putting my negative qualities in context helped me recognize the same ratio in myself, that I am more good than bad. We talked about this feedback loop in class: When we criticize others, we can’t help but notice the bad in ourselves. But when we look for the good in others, we start to see the best in ourselves too.” 

“I’d gotten used to conversations with primarily positive energy. When I first arrived back in the world, I was awkwardly silent. I didn’t want to be the morality police, but I also didn’t want to participate. As the Buddha  advised, “Do not give your attention to what others do or fail to do; give it to what you do or fail to do.”

“Some trusted me more, realizing that since I didn’t gossip with them, I wouldn’t gossip about them.”

“For another example, we all have friends who turn a catch-up phone call into an interminable vent session describing their job, their partner, their family—what’s wrong, what’s unfair, what’s never going to change. For these people, nothing ever seems to go right. This person may be expressing their fear that bad things are going to happen—their core need for peace and security is threatened.” 

“We’re wired to conform. Your brain would rather not deal with conflict and debate. It would much prefer to lounge in the comfort of like-mindedness. That’s not a bad thing if we’re surrounded by, say, monks. But if we’re surrounded by gossip, conflict, and negativity, we start to see the world in those terms, just like the people who went against their own eyes in Asch’s line experiment.” 

“Instead of reacting compulsively and retaliating, we could enjoy our freedom as human beings and refuse to be  upset.” We step away, not literally but emotionally, and look at the situation as if we are not in the middle of it.  We will talk more about this distance, which is called detachment”

“Just like we wouldn’t want someone to judge us by our worst moments, we must be careful not to do that to others. When someone hurts you, it’s because they’re hurt.” 

“But if you’re only a fair swimmer and you try to save a drowning person, they are likely to pull you down with them. Instead, you call for the lifeguard. Similarly, if you don’t have the energy and experience to help a friend,  you can introduce them to people or ideas that might help them. Maybe someone else is their rescuer.” 

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

“Letting go doesn’t mean wiping away negative thoughts, feelings, and ideas completely. The truth is that these thoughts will always arise—it is what we do with them that makes the difference. The neighbor’s barking dog is an annoyance. It will always interrupt you. The question is how you guide that response. The key to real freedom is self-awareness.”

“One morning, I woke up to discover that a single mosquito had been in my net and I had at least ten bites. I  thought of something the Dalai Lama said, “If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping  with a mosquito.” Petty, negative thoughts and words are like mosquitos: Even the smallest ones can rob us of our peace.” 

“Spot, Stop, Swap Most of us don’t register our negative thoughts, much as I didn’t register that sole mosquito.  To purify our thoughts, monks talk about the process of awareness, addressing, and amending. I like to remember this as spot, stop, swap. First, we become aware of a feeling or issue—we spot it. Then we pause to address what the feeling is and where it comes from—we stop to consider it. And last, we amend our behavior— we swap in a new way of processing the moment. SPOT, STOP, SWAP.” 

“To help us confront our own negativity, our monk teachers told us to try not to complain, compare, or criticize for a week, and keep a tally of how many times we failed. The goal was to see the daily tally decrease. The more aware we became of these tendencies, the more we might free ourselves from them.” 

“fifty times the happiness and joy. Who doesn’t want that? The material world has convinced us that there are only a limited number of colleges worth attending, a limited number of good jobs available, a limited number of people who get lucky.” 

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

“Kṣamā is Sanskrit for forgiveness. It suggests that you bring patience and forbearance to your dealings with others. Sometimes we have been wounded so deeply that we can’t imagine how we might forgive the person who hurt us. But, contrary to what most of us believe, forgiveness is primarily an action we take within ourselves. Sometimes it’s better  (and safer and healthier) not to have direct contact with the person at all; other times,  the person who hurt us is no longer around to be forgiven directly. But those factors don’t impede forgiveness because it is, first and foremost, internal. It frees you from anger.”

“Forgiveness has been shown to bring peace to our minds. Forgiveness actually conserves energy.”  

“Transformational forgiveness is linked to a slew of health improvements including: fewer medications taken,  better sleep quality, and reduced somatic symptoms including back pain, headache, nausea, and fatigue.  Forgiveness eases stress, because we no longer recycle the angry thoughts, both conscious and subconscious,  that stressed us out in the first place.” 

“Before you start, visualize yourself in the other person’s shoes. Acknowledge their pain and understand that it is why they are causing you pain. Then, write a letter of forgiveness.” 

“List all the ways you think the other person did you wrong. Forgiving another person honestly and specifically goes a long way toward healing the relationship. Start each item with “I forgive you for…” Keep going until you get everything out. We’re not sending this letter, so you can repeat yourself if the same thing keeps coming to mind. Write everything you wanted to say but never had a chance. You don’t have to feel forgiveness. Yet.  When you write it down, what you’re doing is beginning to understand the pain more specifically so that you can slowly let it go. Acknowledge your own shortcomings. What was your role, if any, in the situation or conflict? List the ways you feel you did wrong, starting each with the phrase “Please forgive me for…”  Remember you can’t undo the past, but taking responsibility for your role will help you understand and let go of your anger toward yourself and the other person. When you are done with this letter, record yourself reading it.  (Most phones can do this.) Play it back, putting yourself in the position of the objective observer. Remember that the pain inflicted on you isn’t yours. It’s the other person’s pain. When you squeeze an orange, you get orange juice. When you squeeze someone full of pain, pain comes out. Instead of absorbing it or giving it back, if you forgive, you help diffuse the pain.” 

“TRY THIS: FORGIVE YOURSELF The exercise above can also be used to forgive yourself. Starting each line with “I forgive myself for… ,” list the reasons you feel angry at or disappointed in yourself. Then read it out loud or record it and play it for yourself. Bring out the objective observer, and find understanding for yourself,  letting go of the pain.” 

“She now refers to her ex-husband as one of her greatest teachers.” 

“But we should challenge ourselves to dig to the root of negativity, to understand its origins in ourselves and those around us, and to be mindful and deliberate in how we manage the energy it absorbs. We begin to let go through recognition and forgiveness.”

“He wants us to uncover, accept, and create a new relationship with our deepest fears.” 

“Tracking my fear of exam results and the other “branch” fears that appeared led me to the root: fearing I  couldn’t make my parents happy.” 

“lacked a key element necessary to the trees’ health: wind. In a natural environment, trees are buffeted by wind.  They respond to that pressure and agitation by growing stronger bark and deeper roots to increase their stability.” 

“We waste a lot of time and energy trying to stay in the comfortable bubble of our self-made Biospheres. We fear the stresses and challenges of change, but those stresses and challenges are the wind that makes us stronger. In  2017, Alex Honnold stunned the world when he became the first person ever to climb Freerider—a nearly three thousand-foot ascent up Yosemite National Park’s legendary El Capitan—entirely without ropes. Honnold’s unbelievable accomplishment was the subject of the award-winning documentary Free Solo.” 

“Breathing steadily while we acknowledged our fear helped us calm our mental and physical responses in its presence. Walk toward your fear. Become familiar with it. In this way we bring ourselves into full presence with fear. When you wake up to that smoke alarm going off, you would acknowledge what is happening in the moment, and then you would get out of the house. Later, in a calmer state, you would reflect on how the fire started or where it came from. You would call the insurance company. You would take control of the narrative.  That is recognizing and staying in present time with fear.” 

“the fear always led me to the same concern: how I was perceived by others. What would they think of me? My root fear influences my decision-making.” 

“She was afraid of failure and of being seen as less than an intelligent, capable person by others and by herself.  Once she learned and acknowledged the true nature of her fear, she was on her way to recasting its role in her life, but first she needed to develop some real intimacy with it. She needed to walk into her fear.”

“Try shifting from I am angry to I feel angry. I feel sad. I feel afraid. A simple change, but a profound one because it puts our emotions in their rightful place. Having this perspective calms down our initial reactions and gives us the space to examine our fear and the situation around it without judgment.” 

“My parents might be upset, they might not—I had no control over that. I could only make decisions based on my own values.” 

“Fear makes us fiction writers. We start with a premise, an idea, a fear—what will happen if… Then we spiral off, devising possible future scenarios. When we anticipate future outcomes, fear holds us back, imprisoning us in our imaginations.” 

“The farmer in this story didn’t get lost in “what if” but instead focused on “what is.” During my monk training,  we were taught, “Don’t judge the moment.” 

“Instead of judging the moment, he needed to accept his situation and whatever came of it, focusing on what he could control.” 

“Using his newfound time, he was not only more present in his kids’ lives, but he also ended up getting a new,  better job. Reframing the situation stopped him from draining energy negatively and encouraged him to start applying it positively.” 

“Still, it’s hard to not judge the moment and remain open to opportunity when the unknown future spins like a  whirlwind through your body and brain. Sometimes our panic or freeze responses rush ahead of us and make it difficult to suspend judgment. Let’s talk about some strategies to help us amend panic and fear.” 

“When we go through a period of instability, we fear what’s ahead. When we know we have a test or a job interview, we fear the outcome.”

“When you are hired for a job, take a moment to reflect on all the lost jobs and/or failed interviews that led to this victory. You can think of them as necessary challenges along the way. When we learn to stop segmenting experiences and periods of our life and instead see them as scenes and acts in a larger narrative, we gain perspective that helps us deal with fear.” 

“Relationships are a space where we commonly use the “solution” of avoidance. Let’s say you’re having some major conflict with your girlfriend. Rather than sitting down with her and talking about what’s going on (putting out the fire), or even figuring out that you aren’t meant to be together (safely and calmly getting everyone out of the house), you pretend everything’s fine (while the destructive fire burns on).” 

“When we deny fear, our problems follow us. In fact, they’re probably getting bigger, and bigger, and at some point something will force us to deal with them. When all else fails, pain does make us pay attention. If we don’t learn from the signal that alerts us to a problem, we’ll end up learning from the results of the problem itself,  which is far less desirable. But if we face our fear—we stay, we deal with the fire, we have the tough conversation—we become stronger as a result.” 

“Whether you suppress them or run away from them, your fears and your problems remain with you—and they accumulate. We used to think it didn’t matter if we dumped our trash in landfills without regard for the environment. If we couldn’t see it or smell it, we figured it would somehow just take care of itself. Yet before regulation, landfills polluted water supplies, and even today they are one of the largest producers of human-generated methane gas in the United States. In the same way, burying our fears takes an unseen toll on our internal landscape.” 

“In the first, all you want is the outcome. In the second, you are curious about what you might learn from the  process.” This was a new concept for me, and it blew my mind.” 

“As long as we keep attaching our happiness to the external events of our lives, which are ever-changing, we’ll  always be left waiting for it.” 

“Happiness and fulfillment come only from mastering the mind and connecting with the soul—not from objects or attainments.”

“language promoting individual achievement over community connection, group membership, and self acceptance. It’s no surprise that happiness rates have consistently declined among Americans adults since the  1970s.” 

“Sachs says that while generally American incomes have risen since 2005, our happiness has fallen, in part because of social factors like declining trust in the government and our fellow Americans, and weaker social networks.” 

“It is only a matter of how consciously you do these ordinary things…” 

“But Mr. Picasso,” the woman says, “how can you charge me so much? This drawing only took you thirty  seconds!” “Madame,” says Picasso, “it took me thirty years.” The same is true of any artistic work—or, indeed,  any job that’s done well. The effort behind it is invisible.” 

“Losing a job shouldn’t destroy our identities, but often it does. Instead, if we live intentionally, we sustain a  sense of purpose and meaning that isn’t tied to what we accomplish but who we are.” 

“TRY THIS: ADD TO-BE’S TO YOUR TO-DO’S Alongside your to-do list, try making a to-be list. The good news is you’re not making your list longer—these are not items you can check off or complete—but the exercise is a reminder that achieving your goals with intention means living up to the values that drive those goals.” 

“But what do I need to be? I need to be: Disciplined Focused Passionate” 

“EXAMPLE 2 Let’s say I want to have a fulfilling relationship. What do I need to do? Plan dates Do nice things for my partner Improve my appearance But what do I need to be? More calm More understanding More  inquisitive about my partner’s day and feelings”

“Let’s say two people give generous donations to the same charity. One does it because she cares deeply about the charity, a broad intention, and the other does it because he wants to network, a narrow intention. Both donors are commended for their gifts. The one who truly wanted to make a difference feels happy and proud and a sense of meaning. The one who wanted to network only cares whether he met anyone useful to his career or social status. Their different intentions make no difference to the charity—the gifts do good in the world either way— but the internal reward is completely different.” 

“My first trip to the ashram was two weeks long, and I spent it meditating with Gauranga Das every morning for two hours. Sitting for that long, often much longer, is uncomfortable and tiring and sometimes boring. What’s worse, unwanted thoughts and feelings started drifting into my head. I worried that I wasn’t sitting properly and that the monks would judge me. In my frustration, my ego spoke up: I wanted to be the best meditator, the smartest person at the ashram, the one who made an impact. These weren’t monk-like thoughts. Meditation definitely wasn’t working the way I had thought it would. It was turning me into a bad person!” 

“we were told to see society as the organs of a body. No one organ was more important than another; all of them  worked in concert, and the body needed them all.” 

“We monks have already learned that everyone is always simultaneously a student and a teacher.” 

“Everyone has a psychophysical nature which determines where they flourish and thrive. Dharma is using this natural inclination, the things you’re good at, your thrive mode, to serve others. You should feel passion when the process is pleasing and your execution is skillful. And the response from others should be positive, showing that your passion has a purpose. This is the magic formula for dharma. Passion + Expertise + Usefulness =  Dharma.” 

“Pay attention, cultivate self-awareness, feed your strengths, and you will find your way. And once you discover your dharma, pursue it.” 

“Our society is set up around strengthening our weaknesses rather than building our strengths. In school, if you get three As and a D, all the adults around you are focused on that D.”

“After my first summer at the ashram ended, I was not yet a full-time monk. I returned to college and decided to try my hand at teaching again. I set up an extracurricular club called “Think Out Loud,” where every week people would come to hear me speak on a philosophical, spiritual, and/or scientific topic, and then we’d discuss it. The topic for the first meeting was “Material Problems, Spiritual Solutions.” I planned to explore how as humans we experience the same challenges, setbacks, and issues in life, and how spirituality can help us find the answer. Nobody showed up. It was a small room, and when it stayed empty, I thought, What can I learn from this? Then I carried on—I gave my talk to the empty room with my full energy, because I felt the topic deserved it. Ever since then I have been doing the same thing in one medium or another—starting a conversation about who we are and how we can find solutions to our daily challenges.” 

“I tied this to a discussion of how we are looking for instant fixes instead of doing the real work of growth.” 

“Instead of making a huge career change, you can try my approach: look for opportunities to do what you love in the life you already have. You never know where it might lead. Leonardo DiCaprio hasn’t given up acting or producing, yet he also directs significant energy toward environmental advocacy because it’s part of his dharma.” 

“There’s a critical need for soccer in the world, but there’s no need for me to play soccer. Still, the soccer matches I organized at Accenture were the highlight of my week. If it’s not your dharma, it can still give you joy.” 

“Hurt the pocket, save the mind. And remember, just because you don’t like it doesn’t mean nobody likes it. Can you work out a trade with a friend or colleague, where you take on each other’s least favorite tasks?” 

“TRY THIS: IDENTIFY YOUR QUADRANT OF POTENTIAL You may have been doing this exercise in your head as you read about the Quadrants of Potential. Nonetheless, I want you to go through the exercise of acknowledging how close you are to living your dharma today. Do you like your job? Do you love your job?  Are you good at your job? Do other people need and appreciate your work? Is your greatest skill or passion outside your work? What is it? Do you dream of making it your work? Do you think this is an attainable dream?  Do you think there might be ways you could bring your passion to your work? Write down any ideas you have for bringing your passion to the universe.” 

“Mode of Goodness Use money for greater good Create products and ideas that make money but also serve others  Provide jobs and opportunities for others 

Mode of Goodness Use knowledge to help people find their purpose Aspire to better themselves in order to give  more Realize knowledge is not theirs to use alone, but that they are here to serve 

“Invest in your strengths and surround yourself with people who can fill in the gaps.” 

“TRY THIS: REFLECTED BEST-SELF EXERCISE Choose a group of people who know you well—a diverse mix of people you’ve worked with, family, and friends. As few as three will work, but ten to twenty is even better. Ask them to write down a moment when you were at your best. Ask them to be specific. Look for patterns and common themes. Write out a profile of yourself, aggregating the feedback as if it weren’t about you. Think about how you can turn your best skills into action. How can you use those skills this weekend? In different circumstances or with different people?” 

“Take note of every activity you take part in through the course of a few days. Meetings, walking the dog, lunch with a friend, writing emails, preparing food, exercising, spending time on social media. For every activity,  answer the two questions fundamental to dharma: Did I enjoy the process? Did other people enjoy the result?  There are no right or wrong answers. This is an observation exercise to amplify your awareness.” 

“(Guide) Do you like to document human struggles or other meaningful situations in order to promote change?” 

“(Maker) As monks, every time we completed an activity or thought exercise like the ones in this book, we asked ourselves questions: What did I like about that? Am I good at it? Do I want to read about it, learn about it, and spend a lot of my time doing it? Am I driven to improve? What made me feel comfortable or uncomfortable? If I  was uncomfortable, was it in a positive way—a challenge that made me grow—or a negative way?” 

“how does your body respond? When you’re in your element, you can feel it. Alive. For some people, being in their dharma means they feel a calm, confident satisfaction. For others, there is a thrill of joy and excitement.” 

“either case, you feel alive, connected, with a smile on your face. A light comes on. Flow. In dharma, there is a  natural momentum. You feel like you’re in your lane, swimming with the current, instead of struggling through a resistant surf. When you are truly aligned, there is a sense of flow—you come out of your own head and lose track of time. Comfort. In your dharma, you don’t feel alone or out of place, no matter who comes or goes or where you are physically; where you are feels right, even if the place where you feel right is traveling the world.  I don’t like the feeling of danger, but I have a friend who loves fast cars and Jet Skis. The danger—the worst-case scenario—is the same for both of us, but for him it is worth it, or the danger itself is a joy. On stage, I’m in my element, but someone else would shut down. Consistency. If you have a great time snorkeling on vacation,  that doesn’t mean snorkeling, or being on vacation for that matter, is your dharma. Being in your dharma bears repeating. In fact, it gets better the more you do it. But a single event is a clue to what energy you like, when and how you feel alive. Positivity and growth. When we’re aware of our own strengths, we’re more confident, we value others’ abilities more, and we feel less competitive. The inclination to compare yourself to others may not go away completely, but it shrinks because you only compare yourself to people within your area of expertise.  Rejection and criticism don’t feel like assaults. They feel like information that we can accept or reject,  depending on whether they help us move forward.” 

“In Buddhism, the lotus represents the idea that the mud and muck of life’s challenges can provide fertile ground for our development. As the lotus grows, it rises through the water to eventually blossom. The Buddha says,  “Just like a red, blue, or white lotus—born in the water, grown in the water, rising up above the water—stands  unsmeared by the water, in the same way I—born in the world, grown in the world, having overcome the world —live unsmeared by the world.” “Jakarta was my mud,” Slade says in her TEDx Talk, “but it was also the seed  of my future development.” 

“Now, however, I was waking up to the sounds of birds, trees rustling in the wind, a stream of water. I woke to the sounds of nature.” 

“monks simplify their clothing so as not to waste energy and time on dressing for the day. We each had two sets of robes—one to wear and one to wash. In similar fashion, the early morning wake-up was designed to launch the day in the right spirit. It was an ungodly hour, yet it was spiritually enlightening.” 

“We tend to wear our ability to get by on little sleep as some sort of badge of honor that validates our work ethic. But what it is is a profound failure of self-respect and of priorities.” 

“The energy and mood of the morning carries through the day, so making life more meaningful begins there.”

—this free time is one of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves.” 

“When you create the space, you’ll realize it fills with what you lack most of all: time for yourself.” 

(And, bonus, those tasks won’t keep you up at night if you know you’re going to handle them.) 

“The point is to remove challenges from the morning. Insignificant as they may seem, if you’re spending your morning deciding what to eat, what to wear, and what tasks to tackle first, the accumulating choices complicate things unnecessarily.” 

TRY THIS: VISUALIZATION FOR TOMORROW Just as an inventor has to visualize an idea before building it, we can visualize the life we want, beginning by visualizing how we want our mornings to be. After you do breathwork to calm your mind, I want you to visualize yourself as your best self. Visualize yourself waking up in the morning healthy, well rested, and energized. Imagine the sunlight coming through the windows. You get up, and as your feet touch the ground, you feel a sense of gratitude for another day. 

“As Bryant told me on my podcast, On Purpose, having a routine is critical to his work. “A lot of the time,  creativity comes from structure.” 

“When you have those parameters and structure, then within that you can be creative. If you don’t have structure,  you’re just aimlessly doing stuff.” Rules and routines ease our cognitive burden so we have bandwidth for  creativity. Structure enhances spontaneity. And discovery reinvigorates the routine.” 

“Look for something new in a routine that you already have. What can you spy on your commute that you have never seen before? Try starting a conversation with someone you see regularly but haven’t ever engaged. Do this with one new person every day and see how your life changes.”

“Add flowers to a vase or rearrange your furniture to find new brightness and purpose in familiar possessions.” 

“Your only opportunity to succeed is in that moment. Whether you are at a work meeting or having dinner with friends, the conversations you have, the words you choose—you won’t ever have another opportunity just like that one. In that moment you can’t change the past, and you’re deciding the future, so you might as well be where you are.” 

“Being present is the only way to live a truly rich and full life.”

Coach Gratitude Learning Mindfulness podcast Purpose Well Being

davidsonhang View All →

Purpose: I create an empowering context for curious and hungry people looking for fulfillment, experiences, and creativity. We do this by developing their growth mindset, introducing self-love, and powerful group experiences. It results in people with strong boundaries, resilient mental health, and practical life skills

People leave with the ability to land their dream job, have autonomy and flexibility with their lifestyle, travel the world, and create from their heart and soul.


Davidson was once broke, insecure, low-confidence, and frustrated by doing all the wrong activities. Addicted to drugs, validation, and wallowing in self-pity. No relationship to family, and at the mercy of other people’s suggestions and opinions.

It was hell.

After spending $100k hiring different coaches, traveling the world doing workshops around the world, reading>1000 books, and through curiosity, have created the most effective system to remove people from that situation. My life’s work is to bring joy and abundance to people who as on a similar path as I was and bring back the joy and abundance of their life.

Through shared experiences and storytelling, I inspire and model behaviors that lead to a richer, more fulfilled life full of joy, experiences, passion, and ecstasy from the richness of relationships and being able to experience the depths of the human experience.

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