Stillness Is the Key

This is mostly a book about slowing down and being present.

To be steady while the world spins around you. To act without frenzy. To hear only what needs to be heard. To possess quietude—exterior and interior—on command. To tap into the dao and the logos. The Word. The Way. Buddhism. Stoicism. Epicureanism. Christianity. Hinduism. It’s all but impossible to find a philosophical school or religion that does not venerate this inner peace—this stillness

Stillness Is the Key is said to be the third book of Holiday’s books which is proceeded by The Obstacle is the Way and Ego is the Enemy. Neither of which I have read but I do pick up his book, The Daily Stoic: 366 Meditations on Wisdom, Perseverance, and the Art of Living on a somewhat regular basis and listen to The Daily Stoic podcast on days I need more inspiration.

Stoicism is the endurance of pain or hardship without the display of feelings and without complaint. It is also an Greek philosophy that taught that virtue, the highest good, is base on knowledge; that the wise live in harmony with the divine Reason (fate and providence).

I discovered Stoicism last year and did not think much about it outside of the 366 Meditations until I saw Matt D’Avella’s video on The Key to Happiness in a Distracted World. In that video the author, Ryan Holiday, is a guest and talks about this book, Stillness is the Key.

The message throughout the book is one that I have been focusing on in the last few years. One that includes living intentionally and minimalist living. I read this book on my Kindle and according to my Goodreads, I had 65 highlights.

Stillness is what aims the archer’s arrow. It inspires new ideas. It sharpens perspective and illuminates connections. It slows the ball down so that we might hit it. It generates a vision, helps us resist the passions of the mob, makes space for gratitude and wonder. Stillness allows us to persevere. To succeed. It is the key that unlocks the insights of genius, and allows us regular folks to understand them. The promise of this book is the location of that key . . . and a call not only for possessing stillness, but for radiating it outward like a star—like the sun—for a world that needs light more than ever.

It is hard to talk about this book without simply copying and pasting all the quotes I found insightful. But this book, for me, was a conversation with someone I could never have in real life. A lot of the concepts that were touched upon that when I try and share them with people in my real life I get looked at like I have two heads; like I am out of touch with reality. While honestly I feel like I have a greater prospective now than I ever have before. I just think I have reached that point in my life much sooner than most others.

Holiday uses this book to talk about Anne Frank, and how she used her journal to slow her mind down in the midst of a chaotic time for not only herself but the world. The book also takes some time to talk about how loud our world is now. We walk around with headphones in (raises hand), screens constantly on, phones always ringing. Planes are filled with people trying to avoid the silence. People will do anything to avoid taking in the world around them. “They’d rather close their mind than sit there and have to use it.”

Considering Holiday has an entire book on egos I was surprised to see him talk about how life is lonely and painful for those who’s lives are driven by their ego. Donald Trump, Alexander the Great and Howard Hughes are just a few who are discussed. The opposite of the ego is confidence and how confident people know what really matter; they do not boast or lie to get ahead and ultimately struggle to deliver.

Stillness is the river and the railroad junction through which so much depends. It is the key . . . To thinking clearly. To seeing the whole chessboard. To making tough decisions. To managing our emotions. To identifying the right goals. To handling high-pressure situations. To maintaining relationships. To building good habits. To being productive. To physical excellence. To feeling fulfilled. To capturing moments of laughter and joy. Stillness is the key to, well, just about everything. To being a better parent, a better artist, a better investor, a better athlete, a better scientist, a better human being. To unlocking all that we are capable of in this life.

Tiger Woods was a large section of the book and his inability to balance his life. There is also a section about Michael Jordan and the anger that he held onto his entire career.

This is not a book for everyone but it is definitely for someone who is looking to find some peace in their life. This is a book for someone who is struggling to find the stillness in their life. For those who find it hard connecting with others during this time of their life.

JS.

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