Think Like A Monk: A complete book summary & review

 “Your identity is a mirror covered with dust. When you first look in the mirror, the truth of who you are and what you value is obscured. Clearing it may not be pleasant, but only when that dust is gone can you see your true reflection.”

think like a monk


What to expect?

Expect a book that is a detailed read, one that is bound to take you days to read, and weeks or months to fully implement the lessons that it has to teach. Also, expect a book that is not about growing professionally, but about growing personally and spiritually. Expect a book that teaches you to think and act like with a monk mind, as opposed to a monkey mind.

Who can read?

The book is written in a language that can be easily understood by a beginner-level reader. The content, however, is detailed and in-depth and may take beginners some time to get through.

A little about the author

Jay Shetty is a British vlogger, author, and motivational speaker who enjoys a massive social media following, with many viral videos on both Facebook and YouTube. His videos have garnered a total of 7 billion views on YouTube, and he has 26 million followers on Facebook and 6 million on Instagram. He has also been featured on the ‘Forbes 30 under 30‘ list.

Jay speaks about life purpose, mental health, relationships, wellbeing, and has appeared on many famous shows like The Ellen DeGeneres Show and A Little Late with Lilly Singh. He is also a podcast host, former monk, and purpose coach.

What is the book all about?

“Think Like a Monk” is a book that helps us live a more peaceful and purposeful life; one that is full of gratitude and brimming with positivity. No, the book doesn’t promise us overnight miracles, but what it does promise is a sense of calmness, a change of attitude, more love, more positivity, and better clarity of who we are. 

Broadly divided into three sections – Let Go (Identity, Negativity, Fear, and Intention), Grow (Purpose, Routine, The Mind, and Ego), and Give (Gratitude, Relationships, and Service), the book effectively charts out a course for living a more peaceful and content life.

Now concepts, new perspectives, new learnings

There are many interesting and novel concepts that I learned through this book. For example, in Jay’s own words – “Mudita is the principle of taking sympathies or unselfish joy in the good fortune of others.”

Jay also brings out the stark contrast between the monk mind and the monkey mind. A monkey mind overthinks and procrastinates, is distracted by small things, seeks short-term gratifications, is demanding and feels entitled, is self-centered and obsessed with multi-tasking, and is controlled by anger, worry, and fear.

While the monk mind is single-task focused, looks for meaning and genuine solutions, controls and engages energy wisely, is enthusiastic, determined, and patient, seeks long-term gains, and is compassionate, caring, and collaborative.

Similarly, Jay also talks about many novel concepts like the cancers of the mindthe quadrants of potential, the circle of love, double-edged ego, chariot of the mind, etc.

Learning to unlearn

Contrary to popular beliefs and general wisdom, Jay Shetty offers you an opposite viewpoint on concepts like multitasking, venting out frustrations, feelings, and emotions, and the importance of succeeding early in life.

How good is the writing style?

The book reads like a conversation, and there is an instant connection that the reader feels with the author. Given the subject, the book doesn’t feel preachy at all. A generous number of examples, personal anecdotes, some illustrations and diagrams, practical tips, and implementable tools and techniques, make the book an interesting and deeply engaging read.

What kind of research does the author make use of?

The fact that eighteen full-length pages at the end of the book are dedicated to notes and references – goes a long way in telling us about the research that has gone into the making of this book. The author includes concepts from ancient Hindu and Buddhist wisdom, Christian and Islamic thoughts, and many other indigenous religions, and brings to us – the best of the whole world.

What did I like?

There are a lot of novel concepts that the readers take away from the book. The lessons are practical and implementable, while some tools and techniques make it easy for a reader to follow through on the learnings. 

The Vedic Personality included at the end of the book is an unexpected bonus. Further, most of the topics are very relevant to a modern individual.

Things like anxiety, negativity, disappointment, stress, deteriorating quality of relationships, media clutter, device overdose, and inadequate sleep are ailments that bother most of us. In that sense, ‘Think Like a Monk’ is specifically written to cater to the needs of the twenty-first-century individual.

What could have been better?

I would have loved it better if the book had more illustrations, diagrams, and charts.

The personal anecdotes are everything

Right from the point where Jay Shetty is eighteen, listening to a monk speak and falling in love with his words, to the point when Jay grabs his first job and is part of an office gossip session criticizing their colleague.

From his days in the ashram, trying to outdo others by meditating for more hours, to his meeting his future wife Radhi – it is these incidents and examples, and their relevance to the subject being discussed, that makes the book a much more interesting and interactive read.

“My whole life I’d been fascinated by people who’d gone from nothing to something – rags-to-riches stories. Now, for the first time, I was in the presence of someone who’d deliberately done the opposite.”

Jay Shetty, Think Like a Monk

In addition to this, he also gives examples of many others from whom we can learn. For example, while talking about Dharma, he talks about a British ex-pat who had competence in finance, and who decided to become a nun after going through a horrifying incident in Jakarta, Indonesia.

But as she found out, sitting in a cave and meditating was not her true calling or Dharma. She later found all her expertise, passion, skill, compassion, talent, and service overlapping in service, and she deployed her financial acumen to build a UK-based charity that helps people living in the rural areas of East Bhutan.

Is the book interesting to read?

Yes. Take your time, read it slowly, perhaps a chapter a day, and you will definitely find the book interesting and enriching.

In the end

In the end, “Think Like a Monk” is a book that offers both conventional as well as unconventional wisdom in an attempt to make our lives better, happier, more peaceful, and purposeful. It is a book that I would certainly recommend to readers, and more importantly to non-readers because of its relevance in the current times.

The final verdict

Must read!

Pick the book if

  • You love reading self-help.
  • You haven’t picked up self-help in this category in a while.
  • You are looking for books that inculcate a spiritual mindset.
  • You want to be a better, happier, and more positive version of yourself.
  • You are looking for a book that changes the way you look at your life.
  • You are willing to find meaning and purpose in life.
  • One of these things ails you – anxiety, work stress, deteriorating quality of relationships, media clutter, device overdose, inadequate sleep, lack of purpose, disappointment in life.

Skip the book if


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