Former monk Jay Shetty has hit upon a winning combination of charisma and compassion that has propelled him to the upper echelon of the US$4.2-trillion global health and wellness market, and made him one of the most sought-after self-help gurus and motivational speakers in the world, with close to 50 million followers on social media.
His podcast, On Purpose, is just one of the mediums he uses to spread peace, harmony and purpose. On any given day, listeners can tune in to hear Shetty speak with his wife Radhi about the importance of respecting boundaries and how to grow as a couple, listen to him interview historian/author Yuval Harari about boredom (and why it’s good for us) or find out why Grammy-winning artist Alicia Keys swears the best thing she’s ever done is learn to say no.
The British-born former business student dabbles in a few other things, too: He writes books (2020′s Think Like a Monk was a New York Times bestseller and he has a new one on the way this January on the topic of love); he speaks at business conferences (he flew to Montreal last month for C2 – Commerce & Creativity – to chat with entrepreneurs about “conscious consumerism”); he sells tea (he and Radhi have a line of adaptogenic hot beverages); and he marries the odd friend (he officiated the recent nuptials of Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck).
So what motivates this multipotentialite to get out there to listen, learn and spread good vibes? During a break from his frantic schedule, Shetty told The Globe he just loves “being part of energies and spaces that allow people to rethink, unlearn and be a bit of a rebel.”
When you left the monkhood did you ever imagine you’d be a household name in the feel-good sphere?
I did not really set out to do what I do today. Six years ago when my career took off, I had already been doing for many years this same job – but it was all physical. It wasn’t on social media. I gave out flyers. I would go to halls to speak and maybe five people would show up. But I’ve always believed in this journey and I think that resonates with others because they know the place I’m coming from is infused with so much love, purpose and meaning.
About your new book, 8 Rules of Love: How To Find It, Keep It, and Let It Go, you quoted American romance novelist Jamie McGuire who said: ‘Love is the most overused word in the English language.’
The term, love, is definitely overused but I also think it’s the most undefined word in the English language. It’s a word we all hear and use growing up without having a clear sense of what it means exactly. To one person it might mean I want to spend the night with you. To another, it might mean I want to spend the rest of my life with you. To me, love is a genuine desire to get to know all of someone. It is a curiosity to constantly learn everything there is to know about someone … to understand what makes them different from us and to appreciate those differences. I take issue with people who say they hope to ‘find’ love. You don’t find love. You create it and build it.
How does building love work in your own marriage?
When you talk about ‘finding’ love it sets up the expectation that you’re like a kid on a treasure hunt and you’re going to magically stumble upon the prize fully formed. Love isn’t like that and that mindset misleads us. The reality is most of us recognize if you find a rare bird or a rare flower you have to nourish it and take care of it in order for it to thrive. When I met my wife I was definitely attracted to her, and all her qualities as a human being. That is chemistry. But love is something that has to be cultivated and developed every single day. Chemistry doesn’t sustain itself, real connection does that. And that takes a lot of effort and hard work.
What does it say about modern love that dating apps are often the preferred means of meeting people?
I have plenty of friends who have met through apps and they have great relationships. I know others who have met through friends or family and they have strong relationships too. What truly matters is whether two people are willing to be totally open with one another, show each other who they really are, and be willing to be vulnerable.
Your podcast is a who’s who of famous people, who else is on your wish list?
A lot of people come to mind but if I was going to choose someone Canadian, it would be Justin Bieber. He’s such a talent and the journey he has been on is fascinating. I would definitely like to talk to him and find out what he’s learned along the way.
Is there an interview you would do over if you had the chance?
Kobe Bryant. Not because the first time [I interviewed him] wasn’t amazing. It was. But given what happened [Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna died in a helicopter crash in January, 2020] I would just ask different questions. His death was a good reminder to me that I should approach every interview as if it might be the last one I ever get to do.
What’s your idea of the perfect date night? Is Rhadi’s the same?
Absolutely not. Rhadi’s perfect night is going to a grocery store, buying lots of plant-based goodies, having a casual dinner and watching a movie. I like that, too, but I’m more adventurous. My perfect date night is going to an escape room or doing something really active. We humour each other. We do both. Compromise, in any relationship, is key.