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Living with the Monks: What Turning Off My Phone Taught Me about Happiness, Gratitude, and Focus

3.90  ·  Rating details ·  750 ratings  ·  87 reviews
Equal parts memoir and road map to living a less stressful and more vibrant life, bestselling author Jesse Itzler offers an illuminating, entertaining, and unexpected trip for anyone looking to feel calmer and more controlled in our crazy, hectic world.

Entrepreneur, endurance athlete, and father of four Jesse Itzler only knows one speed: Full Blast. But when he felt like
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published May 29th 2018 by Center Street
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Showing 1-30
3.90  · 
Rating details
 ·  750 ratings  ·  87 reviews

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Holly McIntyre
Jul 19, 2018 rated it it was ok
If spirituality is important to you, if you appreciate well-crafted writing, if you have studied and sought to implement spiritual practices in your life, this book is NOT for you. The author presents some good and useful insights gleaned during his sojourn with the dog-training monks of New Skete (conveniently presented in bold print so you don’t miss them), but the overall tone is one of frat-boy buffoonery —“hey, look at me I act really dumb, but I can swear and make fun of myself!” The only ...more
Carolyn Donoghue
Jun 16, 2018 rated it liked it
I was SO excited to read this book. 1. I'm a big fan of Jesse, 2. I've done the winter hike up Mt Washington and had heard it was the start of the book, and 3. I trained my dog using a dog training book by the Monks of New Skete and think they are awesome! It was the trifecta! Unfortunately, I have to be honest I thought this book was just ok. First, the good stuff - Jesse is such a likeable interesting guy, that you want to hear what he has to say. He has an easy flow in his writing style and i ...more
Rachael Marsceau
Waaaaay too much language for my liking. Pretty sure I can find other books on the topic that would suit me better.
Clay Hunter
Jul 20, 2018 rated it did not like it
This guy is such a dingus. This is lazy, sophomoric writing - most of which has nothing to do with the monks that he wanted to spend time with (and which he did literally no research on beforehand). Bro just wanted to write a book with the least amount of effort possible and accomplished that goal. What a waste of time.
Wesley Policky
May 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Phenomenal book! Great insight with a great comedic flare. "Remember Tomorrow" is a great lesson as you think about making decisions each day. Basically, think about the consequences of your actions before you take action.

Thanks for writing - just fantastic!
Ambrose Miles
Aug 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is not a book on spirituality nor is a book about the monks of New Skete. It's a memoir and it says as much on the dust jacket above the bar code. A memoir, though short on memory, it is pure Jesse Itzler. Sure, what he says in the book and what the pictures show don't exactly see eye to eye. Anyone who has stayed at the monastery knows there are no stained glass windows in either church and visitor rooms are not 6x8. Just look at the photo of his room. However it is a fun book if you don't ...more
Jul 04, 2018 rated it it was ok
10% insight, 90% self-promotion. living with a seal was new and creative. This one read much like he was searching for a second book to write. If you are looking for a fun, live vicariously through an authors embellished stories and recreated (ie edited) dialogue then you will like this book.

As someone who has practiced daily meditation for 7-8 years and participated in 10 day silent retreats, I feel like he did the genre a disservice. His “journey” is akin to living with Amish who have cable a
Dora Okeyo
Jun 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley
I love this book! It was such a thrill reading about Jesse's experiences and his energy jumps off the pages you can barely contain it! Would I live in a monastery for two weeks? Better yet, would I go one week without my phone and access to internet? I don't know about you but there's bravery and utmost conviction in his decision to 'unplug' and 'de-clutter' and it's inspiring as much as it's scary!
I requested to read this book off NetGalley (thanks for the eARC) and it's got take-aways and simp
Joe Noto
Jul 06, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-own
My first exposure to Jesse was at a business conference. He was the guest speaker. His speech wowed me. We got a copy of his first book and after his speech, I waited in line to.get his signature and shook his hand. He has led a fascinating life and continues to add to it. I loved his first book. It was perfect. This one is good, but not on the same level. I felt like most of it was telling the same life stories from his first book or maybe some were from his speech I saw, but it was a lot the s ...more
Randal White
Couldn't put it down! The author is a great storyteller, and pulls you into his world easily. In this book, he goes to upstate New York to live in a monastery, in order to "unplug" and find some peace in his life.
The author writes with a great deal of humor, yet manages to describe his discoveries quite well. He finds several lessons that he can apply to his life (and yours), and that you do not have to go live in a monastery to enact them into your own life.
I burned through this book fast, as
Danielle Rylance
Dec 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book. There were some key take away for me. Put the phone down, focus on task at hand (monotask) and do them with pride and well, remember tomorrow & how you will feel if you don’t do what you said you would do today, rate your happiness 1-10. Then list the reasons why it isn’t a ten & go after those things. Life is short, time is ticking, create a life resume. Be present. Another way he looks at time is Interesting. Say your parent is 78 and you think they have 10 ...more
Sameera Al Makhmari
Jul 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018
“I’m on my spiritual journey to building my life resume”

Great book and fun to listen and see the experience through Jesse’s eyes!
I’ve never heard of Jesse Itzler before but the title of the book spoke to me! This book had much insight and it will definitely make you stop and think!

I can’t recommend it enough!

Thanks Jesse for the amazing experience and brilliant story-telling !!
Jun 20, 2018 rated it did not like it
Clearly not enough material for a book. I really wanted to love this as much as his previous book.
Zack Quaderer
Jun 15, 2018 rated it liked it
Not a bad book. I don't think it is nearly as good as living with a seal was. At parts it seemed like content was a little forced. Still worth the read as there are some really cool ideas and fun stories.
Trina (aNovelReader)
Great topic for a book. Poor execution. The fact that the author tells the reader up front that he has no idea what he is going to write about was a big tip-off. Most of the book was about his past book about living with some Navy Seal. I didn't read it but I feel like I have since this book was really about further promoting that one. I really think he would have called the whole stint off when he learned the Monks weren't Buddhist but, then again, he had to write a book about something. Plus, ...more
James Ippoliti
Aug 04, 2018 rated it liked it
After reading Living with a Seal, which I enjoyed, I tried Living with the Monks. This book was not as good as Seal. It probably would have worked better as a short blog post. I like Jesse Itzler-at least who he seems to be in his books but this felt like he couldn’t think of anything else to write for his next book. I do like Jesse’s “Life Resume” concept and his overall life philosophy but I don’t buy this book as inspiring. First 15 days is not that long to unplug. And I was bothered when he ...more
Chris Conrady
Aug 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
When you imagine monks, you think of solitude, reflection and meditation. Combining that with someone as dynamic and outgoing as Jesse Itzler, someone who has talked his way into a rap career and MTV, ran an ultra marathon, started a major private jet company, launched and managed several successful brands, seems to know everyone and married one of the most successful self-made women in America, it's bound to be interesting. The challenge of unplugging and unwinding for someone who is always on ...more
Jun 20, 2018 rated it liked it
“Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.”

Rating: 3/5

[Joe Rogan's Podcast sent me here]

"There’s a Native American proverb that makes me think of Lenny. It goes like this: An older Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life, but the boy explains there’s a fight going on inside of him between two wolves. One is evil—he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false, pride, superiority, and ego. But the othe
What an absolutely amazing book.

The favorite part for me was part 3 where Jesse shared the 10 insights from the 2 weeks he spent with the monks. My second favorite part was the diary. It was hilarious. Laugh out loud hilarious.

I wasn't very interested in the book to begin with. I thought that hundreds of people go to Vipassana meditation every year and this experience sounds very similar - why should I give it my time? I am glad I didn't listen to that voice though because I am going to be rere
Holdon Son
Jan 09, 2019 rated it liked it
I feel like I've engorged myself in the Jesse Itzler Extended Universe ever since reading Living with a SEAL on a whim a few months ago. I've read The Buy Side by Turney Duff (which greatly surprised me by bringing up Jesse) and Can't Hurt Me by David Goggins (which greatly surprised me by not bringing up Jesse). They both make appearances in this book, and both shined in their chapters.

But as others have noted, this felt like a book to just write a book. Like that Jesse read his 'story' with th
Jul 02, 2018 rated it liked it
Fast read about the author's experience of two weeks in a very small monastic community (the New Skete monks in upstate New York). I confess to finding the author's adrenaline-junkie extreme extrovert persona a bit annoying, but most of his advice is perfectly fine...most of it lines up well with classical Stoicism.

But dude...stealing Clif bars from monks? That's low. And not knowing that not all monks are Buddhist?

I think the thing I had the biggest issue with was his (repeated) comments about
Alex Devero
Jun 07, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: self-development
This was a really good and entertaining book! Jesse wrote a great story about his experience of living with monks. The book is full of funny stories based on what Jesse had to handle on his adventure. It is also packed with many useful lessons Jesse learned along the way. There were many moments where I was laughing out loud, especially in the second part, the diary. However, my favorite part was the third. In this part, Jesse shares 10 short lessons he learned on his adventure. Many of these le ...more
Jul 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
It could've been a 5/5, but the story was like dipping in the sea: sometimes on a high wave, sometimes on a low tide - there were parts it was interesting and funny and parts it was just plain boring. I started this because the free sample from Audible was witty and funny and I expected more of that when purchasing it, so in the end I was a tad disappointed.
I didn't particularly enjoy some of the author's views as they sometimes seemed very ignorant (no idea what Christian monks are like or abou
Jan 18, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: audiobooks
This book tells an interesting story but is more self-promotion focused than I wanted.

I first heard of Jesse Itzler through following his wife Sara Blakely on social media. I find Jesse to be really relatable. I also love to try experiments on myself & I also have a fuck it list. Now, my experiments aren't as out there (yet?) as living with a navy seal or living at a monastery, but they're impressive to me nonetheless. I re-emphasized a few ideas I already know & believe in from reading
Jan 15, 2019 rated it liked it
I recently adopted a puppy and the New Skete books were suggested to me. The books on dog training are fantastic. It seemed interesting that these monks were raising and training dogs so I wanted to go a little deeper. I read one of their other books, something about happiness, which was a great book. So when I saw this I figured it would be a fun read. I never heard of Jesse but for the first few chapters and I liked him less and less. Then I read a bit about him and liked him even less. But th ...more
Jan 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I loved Jesse’s first book, “Living with a SEAL”, and “Living with the Monks" is every bit as good, if not better. Jesse has some wonderful insights on mindfulness, emotions, relationships, business, and life wrapped up in a package that made me laugh out loud at times (you really should listen to his audio performance of the book). I’m also a big fan of Jesse’s theory about creating a "life résumé" full of meaningful experiences and memories. Visiting a monastery has been on my own personal to- ...more
Laura Crabill
Sep 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
Having an aunt who is a nun and lives in a convent, I was curious to see Jesse's take on his experience. The lessons should not surprise anyone but it is great to see them written down. What was surprising was the book's overall message and entertainment value. It was extremely entertaining and far exceeded my expectations. If you could hide the curse words (which definitely fit into the character of the book), I would even recommend this to kids. Teenagers are missing out on so much of what lif ...more
Mark J. Walker
May 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A Master Storyteller

I read the author’s first book and thought he was insane! I still think he is insane, but now I think he is balanced. Warning! Don’t start this book late at will not be able to put it down. It stinks when you finish only to find out that the birds are chirping and the sun is starting to rise. Work? Oh no! Now I have to double up on vitamins and avoid hitting a wall at 2:00 PM....Jessie is entertaining and his words are sincere. His wife must be a Saint!
Qatar Peters
Oct 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Although the book jumps around a lot you really do get a true understanding of the things the author went through on his journey. I really enjoy the writing style of Jesse and felt that his way of story telling not only kept you interested but also informed on the things he felt. While reading it was easy to also feel the things he felt and understand what he was going through. This is a great book if you need something thing to help motivate you towards your dreams no matter how crazy they may ...more
Nov 14, 2018 rated it it was ok
Took me 3-months to reas this book. I wanted to like it so bad, but unfortunately it was horrible. I forced myself to read and i was hoping it would get better. It didn’t. The author had an idea, did no research, didn’t have enough material for a book, forced his writing, and recounts his stay with the monks where he essentially learned nothing (yeah he says he learned patience and etc, buuuuuuut).

I really want to give it 1/5 but don’t want to be that mean since it did take some effort to write
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JESSE ITZLER only eats fruit 'til noon, loves Run-D.M.C., and enjoys living life "out of the box." In fact, he doesn't even have a box. The author of the New York Times bestseller, Living with a Seal, cofounded Marquis Jet, the world's largest private jet card company which he and his partner sold to Berkshire Hathaway/NetJets. Jesse then partnered with Zico coconut water, which he and his partner ...more
“Every day, think as you wake up, ‘Today I am fortunate to have woken up, I am alive. I have a precious human life, I am not going to waste it. I am going to use all my energies to develop myself, to expand my heart out to others, to achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all beings. I am going to have kind thoughts towards others, I am not going to get angry or think badly about others. I am going to benefit others as much as I can.” 1 likes
“Every task is important. Every moment has purpose.” - Jesse Itzler, Living with the Monks, pg. 194” 0 likes
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