What lessons can you take away from the year 2020? Although it was a year plagued with challenges, it also presented an opportunity for learning and growth. When you label a year as good or bad, says Jay Shetty, you cut yourself off from gifts found through different experiences.
Maybe you didn’t get that promotion you wanted, or you received an unexpected bill. Perhaps you lost a loved one or had to cancel a much-needed trip. All of these events can make you feel disappointed, sad, or angry. It is okay to feel those emotions, but do not let them take up too much time or space in your world. Work on reframing how you are going to react to the situation.Jay Shetty lost one of his greatest spiritual mentors in 2020. He felt devastated that he lost his mentor and was even further devastated that he could not travel to attend the memorial service. “I felt the weight and the loss of that in the depths of my heart,” Jay Shetty explains. “As a bit of time passed, I started to ask myself how I could honor his memory. It was a long and intense process for me, but I realized that the best way to do it was for me to embody his teachings every day. I could keep him alive in my life in a way that I felt connected with him every day.”Jay Shetty shared that even though his mentor is no longer alive, embodying his teachings has reminded him of the most important lessons he learned about living a life of compassion, kindness, and service. He strives for those things each day. “It was extremely difficult and painful to lose him, but it has also brought me some positive things,” he says.Shetty once had a guest, Ray Dalio, who told him that, “pain plus reflection equals progress.”“I love this equation so much,” he exclaims. “If you remove the word reflection, all you're left with is pain. That's how life works. When we don't reflect, all we're left with is the pain and the struggle.”When you add reflection and introspection to life, it allows us to all grow together.
The Only Thing We Know for Sure is that We Don't Truly Know Anything
“The reality is that none of us are ever in control,” Jay Shetty explains. “Control is what the monks call maya or illusion.” The lack of control means that you need to be flexible to navigate different life situations.
Adaptability is the Greatest Superpower
Jay Shetty likens our ability to adapt and be flexible to buildings built to withstand earthquakes.“Architects design buildings to be flexible so that when earthquakes happen,” says Shetty. “They can sway slightly. The alternative is if they are built to be firm and rigid when earthquakes happen, things break.” If you are rigid and inflexible, even when you have a strong foundation, things can crumble when the earthquakes in life happen. What doesn’t bend, breaks, but if you can learn to be flexible when your world shakes, your resilience will get you through with minimal damage.
Find What Matters Most
External gratification was nearly obsolete this year. Movies, concerts, clubs, dinner dates, and vacations were all put on hold amid the pandemic.Jay Shetty released his book, Think Like a Monk, How To Train Your Mind For Peace and Prosperity Every Day during the pandemic, and his excitement to go on tour across the world to promote it de-escalated quickly due to restrictions.With no tour, plus restrictions on what external activities were available, Shetty found himself with the opportunity to spend some time looking at his life.“How are you living your life, what choices are you making, and how is it working?” Shetty says. “What kind of person are you? Are you living your values? I checked in with myself in 2020, and I'll be honest, I made some adjustments in places where I came across things that I realized weren't working for me in terms of behavior. It wasn't reflecting my deep values. I think we all have those places we can either tweak or make major changes because we're all a work in progress.”
Surround Yourself with the Right People
It is essential to surround yourself with the right people. Find people who support you and make you want to be the best version of yourself.The Last Dance is a documentary series about Michael Jordan and the team he led in the 1990s, the NBA champions, the Chicago Bulls. The documentary displays the team’s journey in pursuit of their sixth NBA title.“One of the things that struck me was just how deep the team was,” Jay Shetty explains. “How it was that depth, not just having Jordan as the star - though of course, that was huge - but team effort was what enabled them to win so many championships.”There are times in life where things are going well. There are also times when things aren’t. Jay Shetty encourages listeners to evaluate their team: their family, friends, co-workers, and acquaintances. Is everyone engaged? Is anyone detracting from what's possible? Is your team helping you to achieve your full potential?There comes a time to tighten your circle to include people who make you better, make you feel joy, and raise your overall well being.
The World is Full of Goodness
There is a lot of goodness in this world. We often think of people like health care workers and police officers as helpers, and they certainly have proven their dedication this year. As Fred Rogers once said, “When I was a boy, and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’”This year in particular has brought out the helper in all of us. Delivery personnel and postal workers made sure critical supplies were delivered. Grocery clerks made sure we could get our food from the store. Neighbors took care of neighbors. When given a chance, humanity showed its goodness, says Jay Shetty.
Many People Struggle with Loneliness and Isolation
The number of Americans struggling with anxiety and depression has tripled due to the pandemic. People are on the edge of burnout and feeling a sense of isolation. The challenges we have faced and social isolation we have felt have caused elevated loneliness and a sense of disconnect for many people.“So many people have reached out to ask me how to deal with mental health challenges,” Shetty explains. “I watched so many social media stars and celebrities reach out with compassion to help others by offering support via their channels, raising awareness and money. All of this caring had an impact. Levels of depression and anxiety skyrocketed in the spring but have since fallen.”
Vulnerability is our Greatest Strength
Vulnerability is our greatest strength, and we are all stronger together, says Jay Shetty. Sometimes pain also brings solutions to address that pain, and we ourselves create solutions when we connect.
Your Actions Matter
We are all connected. What we do or don't do has a ripple effect in a positive or negative way. What you do matters, emphasizes Shetty, and it does affect other people. When you start realizing how contagious energy is, you become more aware of your actions.
We All Need More Kindness
You never know what's going on in someone else's life. Maybe you're fighting a difficult battle right now. A lot of us are. Think about how you would like others to treat you, and treat them with the same respect and kindness.“What does it feel like if someone meets you with anger, or rigidity, or aggression and judgment?” Jay Shetty asks. “What does it feel like if instead, they meet you with compassion, empathy, and non-judgment? We could all use more kindness.”
You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know
“The tenth lesson I learned this year is you don't know what you don't know,” Jay Shetty says. He goes on to stress the importance of good listening skills.When you assume you know what others are going through, you often project your own experiences on them. Remind yourself that being open to listening and learning about the challenges others are experiencing helps you support them by making them feel seen and heard.
Lessons Can be Found in Unexpected Places.
“Being open to learning, wherever it comes from, is a big lesson this year,” Jay Shetty shares. “Sometimes you're going to learn from someone who mistreats you. Sometimes you're going to learn from a documentary or a podcast. You’re going to learn from many different things, and being open to always learning is so powerful!”
When Purpose is Linked to Compassion and Service, It Doesn’t Fade.
For people whose purpose is linked to compassion and service, there is never a way that purpose can be taken from them. When Jay Shetty’s book tour was canceled, he had to pivot. Instead of in person appearances, he offered free meditation sessions on Facebook and Instagram. Over twenty million people tuned in to meditate together for forty days.“I had something else I could offer,” explains Shetty. “I shifted my podcast to serve and adapt. You find certainty and uncertainty through service. When you choose to serve, you will never feel lost.”
“In the dirt and muck of COVID, flowers can still grow, even in challenging times,” Jay Shetty explains.If you nurture your relationships in challenging times, they can grow and blossom.
Gratitude is the quality of being thankful and the readiness to show appreciation and return kindness.“I'm now so grateful for so many everyday things I took for granted, dining out, traveling freely, and so much more,” Jay Shetty shares. Having gratitude in your life can help you improve your mental well being.
Disruption Can Be a Great Time to Purge the Things that Don’t Serve You
The pandemic allowed for many people to slow down and cut back on all the running from place to place. The usual hustle and bustle of pre-pandemic times was reduced, affording people more time to reflect on what matters most. This reflection allows you to keep the things that elevate your life and purge the things that no longer positively serve you, says Jay Shetty.
The Importance of Solitude
“Loneliness is a terrible feeling,” Jay Shetty says. “But it’s different from solitude. As philosopher and theologian Paul Tillich once said, ‘The word loneliness means to express the pain of being alone. The word solitude means to express the glory of being alone.’”People who have been surrounded by too many people this year crave solitude. Those who have been isolated feel lonely and crave interaction with others.“I love that phrase, the glory of being alone,” Shetty says. “We appreciate the idea now more than ever. When you finally do get those opportunities to be alone, even if it is relatively short, savor that solitude.”
Macro to Micro
This year forced many people to consolidate and downsize daily activities. Instead of having an office and a home gym, it all became the same place. Maybe you were making lunch in the kitchen while someone else worked at the table. Home became a school and a backyard park. We had to become creative and carve out space for all our activities in one place. This forces you to ask yourself what you need and what you can do without.
Creativity On Parade
“In 2020, I learned that we are so creative,” shares Jay Shetty. “We made things work. We also made works of art. In our own homes, we recreated famous masterpieces with everyday objects. We serenaded each other on balconies, and we had at home dance parties. People were willing to use their talents to make others smile, and this showed the best of us as we learned and supported one another.
Laughter and Connection
Social media has become an incredible platform for people to connect. There have been actors tap dancing on Instagram, The Rock tossed his daughter up in the air in the pool, and she ended up in outer space on TikTok. Jay Shetty’s wife, Radhi, posted her hilarious videos on her YouTube channel. People were doing what they could to lift others’ spirits and put a smile on someone else’s face. This year was full of lessons for everyone. As you move forward to a new year, take those lessons and even some of these twenty lessons with you and apply them to your life.
More From Jay Shetty
Listen to the entire ON Purpose with Jay Shetty podcast episode on “20 Lessons I Learned in 2020 and How to Let Go of the Pain” now in the iTunes store or on Spotify. For more inspirational stories and messages like this, check out Jay’s website at jayshetty.me.
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