In a world with increasing content, opportunity, stimuli, and expectations, it’s all too easy to get overwhelmed. Many people try to balance concerns on a global scale — be it the environment, social justice, or economics — with intimate affairs, such as romantic relationships, financial budgeting, and personal goals. There is a lot to filter through, organize, and withstand. It helps to have some inspiration and wisdom along the way.
Jay Shetty has sought to be that clarion voice in a chaotic, modern time. He’s a man who has lived seemingly disparate lives, offering his insight and ideals to a global audience. He’s successfully bridged a gap between analog and digital, between old wisdom and youthful opportunism, telling stories that appeal to all ages, genders, ethnicities, and religions.
After all, it’s not easy for someone to get over a billion views on their YouTube Channel, especially when you’re not focusing on video games or beauty regimens. But Shetty, 33, has done just that, amassing subscribers and followers around the world with an inspiring, educational, and thoughtful roster of ideas, advice, and commentary. Dabbling in wellness, mental health, relationships, and lifestyles, Shetty has become a new kind of motivational speaker and guide, one who is incredibly savvy at branding and promotion. He is an influencer, indeed, using an array of digital marketing tools to reach (mostly) young people who have infinite options in life. There is a lot going on, and he tries to distill a complex world into simple interactions and ideals.
Born in London to Indian immigrants, Shetty’s teenage years were marred with tragedy when two of his friends died — one in a car accident, the other a victim of gang violence. At 18, like most young people, he questioned the world around him, mulling existential thoughts about the meaning of everything and just what, exactly, he should be doing with his life. Unlike most 18-year-olds, however, he opted to take some time to live as a monk in the remote outskirts of India.
He spent four summers as a monk, using his time to meditate, fast, and contemplate existence in the modern world. It’s worth noting, though, that his time spent as a monk in India was balanced out by working as a corporate intern about half the time. This curious balance would influence the years to come when he returned to London and began building a business model that would have worldwide reach.
Shetty has described his goal as “making wisdom go viral.” He knows how millennials want their content — after all, he is one — and how to get it to them. His videos are unquestionably well-produced. They are glossy and comfortable, with buzzwords and graphics thrown up on screen, often with moving music laid underneath. Some videos feature him imparting advice directly to the camera, and others are sketches of sorts meant to impart sage knowledge, usually involving an unexpected ending.
He’s not just an effective messenger; Shetty offers some important messages, too. He informs of the unique experience of individuals, explaining to followers that just because two people go through the same thing, it doesn’t mean they have the same feeling, thoughts, or response. He also stresses the importance of listening and looking at people with an open mind and fresh perspective; any personal or professional success comes with understanding and actively listening to the person across from you. Shetty also focuses on the need for personal growth and change. He implores us all to be honest, effective communicators.
All this is especially pertinent in a world of unprecedented technology. He doesn’t shame new tech and innovation — he uses it, after all — but understands the need to control it, instead of letting it control us. He can almost sound like a mentor to a superhero, telling us to use these incredibly powerful connective tools for good instead of bad.
They seem simple, but they’re potent, universal messages. Too often people confuse chemistry with compatibility, he explains. That’s an easy message to remember, but it also happens to be vitally important and true.
Of course, his success and slogans don’t come without criticism. That aforementioned universal content doesn’t exactly fit with the inter-sectional dynamics of class, race, sexuality, and gender. He smartly — and seemingly knowingly — avoids political talk, which for some time now has been a particularly divisive topic. That said, major societal change has to come from leaders and government bodies as well as individuals and communities.
Currently, Shetty has been doing a daily live meditation stream, which is especially vital during the chaotic times this article is being written in and will surely continue to be beneficial in the inevitably uncertain times to follow. Self-care, wellness, wholeness, oneness — whatever we want to call it, however we want to define it, it’s essential that we work to improve the way we connect, react, and respect one another. It certainly can’t hurt to have a lot of people a little bit more open-minded and at peace. Jay Shetty has some advice for that.
Images credit – Jay Shetty