monk mode life coaching advice

The Modern Monk and His *Wisdom*

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I’m not a self-help life coach. I appreciate Jay Shetty and Ben Meer, but they are not original or actually all that helpful. If a meme or a “instant buddha” post worked, we’d all be happy meditators with empathy and compassion for the others on the planet. I’m not a monk either. But a few of the things you’ll learn if you read these well-meaning modern gurus is this:

Do It Yourself

(or pay me to help you do it)

That’s fine. And it’s selling a ton of books, guest appearances on talk shows, and celebrity for the monk who is no longer a monk. YAY.

What a life coach does is determined by how they are living their own LIFE. Get it? So, for example, the “dating coach” who hasn’t been in a relationship in 7 years. Um. The business life coach claims a huge income but lives with a school bus parked in his front yard, because he can’t find room for his shit in his TWO houses, is maybe not the model of living you want to emulate. [Okay, sorry, I’m not bashing others, but making a point.]

The monk of our modern era is probably not familiar to anyone under 60. Why would you know of Thomas Merton? Unless you studied him in college you’re probably not familiar. He struggled with being a monk. He struggled with his Jay moment. And the church reeled him back into the monastery. Jay, on the other hand is free to move about the global dispensing advice on how a MONK would go about finding the LOVE of his life. Oh, spoiler alert: in Merton’s world that “love” was the holy trinity. For Jay that salvation may very well be the dollars he’s making of giving advice that is rehashed wisdom. He’s like the GPT of monk-dumb.

I have no bone to pick with Jay or Ben. I’m just think most people need the hard news: changing your life is hard work. The transformation of you takes place in every. moment, when you choose to act toward your goal or away from your goal. A monk’s goal: serve god. That’s a good goal. But probably not what Jay or Ben had in mind.

I do think there are benefits to reading a good book on self-discipline and getting your life in order. But I don’t think it looks much like Ben’s Monk Mode poster. I don’t think it’s Jay’s Think Like a Monk.

If we “thought like a Monk, Jay, we’d still be in the monastery and still devoted to god/jesus and the church. Period.

And there’s a huge miss, even in Ben’s simplified version. The BIG REVEAL. The most important self-care item for your life.


And with that, I’m going to end my rant. I’m going to go to my monk:now setting and turn off this post, computer, and watch some late-night comedians from last night. Remember “Laughter is the Best Medicine”? Yeah, I know, it’s an old one. But your Tiks and Toks, your IG scrolling of funny videos, pet jokes, and Kardash-dashes, is not what will get you out of your sorry state of affairs. Nope. You’re going to need a bit more than Ben’s roadmap or Jay’s books.

You’re going to need a good night’s sleep. And some real effort in pointing your life and your work at something meaningful to you. Not a “live goal” necessarily. But certainly not a New Year’s Resolution. It is day 11 of 2024. How is your resolution going so far?

That’s not how you change your life for the better. Yes, all the things in Ben’s summary, of Jay’s work, which is a watered-down version of Merton’s work, are good ideas. Harder to enact in our lives. Meditate for 10 minutes? Wow. Ambitious. How about 30-seconds? Habits are built over time. Memes are fun, but they probably won’t improve your life as much as that new Skims outfit you’re thirsting for after your 2-hour streak on TikTok.


John McElhenney – life coach austin texas
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the little red book of mindfulness - john oakley mcelhenney

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