WHAT I’VE BEEN READING: Think Like a Monk by Jay Shetty

Jay Shetty’s book is subtitled “Train your mind for peace and purpose every day”. Shetty first met a monk when he was eighteen years old and attending business school in London. This meeting led to him joining an ashram after he graduated from college, and living there for three years. He subsequently left the ashram to share what he learned with the world. In this book he explains how the ancient wisdom he studied in the Ashram is relevant in today’s modern world.

There are so many little gems of wisdom in this book that we can apply to managing conflict.

For example, Shetty suggests that many of us have an attention problem, that we have lost the art of paying attention to the reality of our experiences. I frequently see this working with clients in conflict. They often fail to pay attention to all of the information available to them, and this narrows their understanding and limits their options to manage their conflict effectively. Shetty also says “To walk down the same old path and find a new stone is to open your mind”. This is a metaphor I often use to explain what I do in coaching – I help clients walk down their old conflict paths, and to look around more carefully for new stones. It always surprises me how many new insights clients gain from simply reflecting on their past experiences more slowly and more deeply.

Shetty explains that there are three routes to happiness, all of them centered on knowledge: learning, progressing and achieving. Again, I think these are also three routes to becoming better at managing our conflicts. We need to continue learning (from others as well as by reflecting on our own experiences). We need to acknowledge progress, even if small, and to continue working towards improving our skills and confidence. Finally, we need to recognize and celebrate our achievements.

Shetty says that “Many of the frustrations we endure can be seen as blessings because they urge us to grow and develop”. It’s the same with conflict – conflict provides us with an opportunity to learn, to grow and to develop. Most of my clients don’t turn up to work with me with that mindset. Rather, they think of conflict as something that is a cause of suffering in their lives and that they wish would simply go away. However, there are ways to make that suffering less acute, and to turn it into something positive.

Shetty suggests that a good question to ask ourselves regularly is “How would a monk think about this?” This might be an interesting question to pose to some of my clients in conflict!

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