7 Unlikely Lessons I’ve Learned from Former Monks Turned Entrepreneurs

Could you imagine what it would be like to go from being a monk to being a motivational speaker a year after?

How weird would it be to go from living in a monastery to working in an office? To leave a life of tranquility and discipline for the real world of social media, information overload and traffic? 

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Photo Credit: Christopher Crouzet on Unsplash

This is exactly what Jay Shetty and Dandapani did. They were both former monks who are now international speakers and successful entrepreneurs. And it turns out what they learned in the monastery are lessons that 99% of the world should learn as well.

This year I learned about both of them from different Youtube channels and couldn’t believe how much I resonated with their messages. I think you will too.

Here are the seven unlikely life lessons I learned from two former monks turned entrepreneurs. 

1. Understand the power of clarity

Humans seem to be terrified of being alone. The average person checks their smartphone up to 80 times per day! Whether waiting for an elevator, Uber or a friend at lunch, most people would rather scroll through their feeds than be forced to interact with others. 

Why is that?

I think it is because we are scared to be alone with our thoughts.

A common theme from these two former monks was how much clarity they have in life. They got that clarity and self-awareness from practicing meditation and not being glued to technology like most people in the outside world. 

I learned that being alone doesn’t have to be a bad thing. In fact, it’s often the best time to learn about yourself and figure out how to improve your life. After reading Bored to Brilliant, I also realized it’s actually a great way to find creative ideas.

No great ideas have ever come to me while mindlessly scrolling on social media. Now I spend tons of time alone with my thoughts meditating, journaling, and thinking instead of looking for a quick dopamine hit from social media.

2. Be open to new experiences

Humans love comfort zones. But growth only happens outside your comfort zone.

As Jay Shetty said, “We live in echo chambers. We’re just surrounded by the same thinking. How often do you bump into a monk?”

Six months ago I would never have thought I would learn so much from two former monks or ever even written this article. But I got out of my comfort zone, listened to two new podcast episodes, and it had a profound impact on my life.


If I had been close-minded like I had been in the past, I wouldn’t have learned these valuable life lessons. I realized I needed open myself to the idea of meeting new people and going to new places to create new experiences. 

I challenge you to do the same. Most of the time, we meet people who are similar to us, which is why we live the same emotions, conversations, and experiences over and over again. 

3. Learn to control technology

Image credit: Shutterstock

After leaving monkhood behind and getting back into the real world, both monks were shocked at how much humans were slaves to technology. Technology doesn’t have to be a bad thing as long as we control it — not the other way around. Unfortunately, most people are literal slaves to their phones. 

Here’s a pretty standard routine for most people:

  • Wake up with your phone’s alarm — check email and texts
  • Browse one to three social media channels while lying in bed
  • Waste countless hours at work mindlessly checking emails, using Slack
  • Take out your phone whenever you’re alone
  • Lay in bed and check social media, email, and messages one last time 
  • Wake up and repeat

Sounds familiar?

I’m not against social media or technology — I love it. But I’ve learned to put my phone on airplane mode, not have it out for meals, and limit time spent on social media. Unsurprisingly, my happiness has multiplied by a thousand. 

Now, I control technology and don’t let it control me.  

4. Combine passion & purpose

The old adage “find your passion and you’ll never work a day in your life” is true in my opinion. Doing what you love can take more work (and less pay) but it’s important to find out what you love to and share it with others.

Luckily, I’ve found my passions through hard work, but Jay Shetty says that finding your passion is nothing combination of these four questions:

  • What am I good at?
  • What do I love?
  • How do I get paid for it?
  • What does the world need?

When you find the intersection of the four, you are able to unlock your passion and find your purpose. 

5. Affirmations can retrain your subconsciousPower Through Tough Times: 24 Affirmations for Entrepreneurs

Studies have shown that at least 90% of everything we do is controlled by our subconscious mind. That’s good and bad. The bad news is most people don’t realize how much they do every day is a habit. But, the good news is that you can retrain your subconscious mind with affirmations.

As Dandapani said in this London Real interview, “Three ingredients are necessary for affirmations to work. Concise choice of positive words. Have a clear visualization. And a corresponding feeling.”

I now use these three ingredients to read, visualize and feel a couple of positive affirmations each morning and night to rewire my mind for success.  

6. Simplify your life

“Detachment is not that you own nothing. It’s that nothing owns you.”

— Jay Shetty

After hearing about how monks really live with such few “things,” I realized that consumerism and materialism was dragging me down.

I’ve since simplified everything about my life. I stopped buying more clothes I don’t’ need, and decluttered everything. I’ve realized the more physical and mental space I have, the more relaxed, focused, and disciplined I’ve become. 

7. Meditation and gratitude are key to achieve happiness

I believe having a solid morning routine is the one habit all successful people share, and both these monks cemented my belief. They also taught me to focus on meditation and gratitude every morning.  

Jay Shetty talks about the importance of gratitude. As a monk, the first thing he practiced was giving thanks to Earth for the food, water, and ability to live. He said that while the gratitude movement of journals and studios seems new to most, it’s a tradition that has been around for centuries.

Meditation as well. It’s an old tradition that has helped me find clarity, focus, and tons of other benefits. I now practice both each morning to start my day off right.

What’s the biggest lesson I learned from both these former monks turned entrepreneurs? Slow down, focus on everything I have, and keep life simple. The more simple and pure life that you lead can result in more clarity and drive than ever before.

 

 

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