Stillness is the Key — by Ryan Holiday

Title: Stillness is the Key
Author: Ryan Holiday
Year: 2020
Publisher: Profile Books Ltd

“It is by stillness that the ball slows down so that we might hit it. Stillness allows us to persevere. To succeed. It is the key that unlocks genius, happiness, meaning.” -Ryan Holiday.

The American author, host of the podcast “The Daily Stoic“, and modern Stoic Ryan Holiday wrote this incredible book “Stillness is The Key” on how to be “still”, and how to recover the bond between our mind, spirit, and body to become the best version of ourselves.

“Stillness is The Key” is divided into three; Mind, Spirit, and Body – each section gives us tools on how to dominate each one. It tells stories and reflections from different angles including Buddhism, Christianity, Stoicism, famous people, athletes, it talks about the Zen mentality, and many more, which makes the experience even more enriching.

In this book review article, I will share what I consider to be the most valuable takeaways from each section along with some of the best quotes from the book.

Part I: Mind

“If the mind is disciplined, the heart turns quickly from fear to love.” -John Cage.

  • Do not let the past or the future bother you, enjoy the present (it has that name for a reason), and be present.
  • The more you let into your mind, the more you must let out. So, be mindful of what you feed your mind with (social media, food, thoughts).
  • Slow down, breathe, do not overreact, and do not fall for first impressions.
  • Start journaling, the list of known people and benefits is huge. It does not matter how many times you write, when you write, what matters is that you should start and reflect on your day, experiences, and emotions, and you will see and feel the results.
  • Do not be afraid of silence, we are so scared of our mind that we contaminate it with senseless noise. Empty your mind, listen to the birds, the rain, the wind.
  • Read, and learn, because those who do not read are at the same level as those who cannot read. Have mentors, have conversations with the masters and be the greatest of all time.
  • Be humble, accept your ignorance, and look for truth.
  • Work for the sake of working, because you love what you do not for the reward. Empty yourself and be open to the world.

Part II: Spirit

“Most of us would be seized with fear if our bodies went numb, and would do everything possible to avoid it, yet we take no interest at all in the numbing of our souls.” -Epictetus

  • If you feed your soul with money, fame, pills, and short-term happiness, you will end up alone and depressed. Be careful about what you feed your soul with.
  • Some people look “still” on the surface, but they are crying inside.
  • What do you stand for? Do you aim for kindness, honesty, and truth, or do you just want money and fame? That might cost you everything you have.
  • Take care of your inner child, live as the mature adult you are, you do not have to be the child you were before, let go of that pain, drop that weight from your shoulders.
  • Write down your thoughts and desires. Examine them, do they make you proud or nauseous? Don’t aim for what you “want” but for what you “need.”
  • Work based on anxiety is called slavery; enjoy what you do, enjoy the process, and do not fall into working soullessly for a “reward” which will not fulfill you.
  • Be one with nature, be present, and be one with the world and its beauty.
  • Accept that there is a higher force (or forces), you don’t have to call it God or Jesus, (although you certainly can!) we just need to understand that sometimes our problems might be smaller than we think.
  • Surround yourself with people who make you smile – it might seem hard but it’s worth it.
  • Do not let anger consume you, do not live as an open wound.
  • Treat others with dignity and respect, we are all part of the same ultimate community.

Part III: Body

“We are all sculptors and painters, and our material is our own flesh and blood and bones.” -Henry David Thoreau.

  • Learn when to push, and learn when to rest – have some hobbies, get in touch with nature, get good sleep, and find your balance.
  • Learn how to say no – you will make time for what is important.
  • The walking meditation” take walks, this will clear your mind.
  • Build a routine, build a system. This will give you mental order.
  • Remember, throw away all your stuff, your labels, everything; you are what is left, and you are what no one can take from you.
  • Schedule time alone, learn to reflect, and think about what Marcus Aurelius said: “What kind of soul do I have?” Do not lose touch with yourself.
  • Your body is a gift, do not burn it, do not overwork. Get rest.
  • Leisure is made to expand our minds and heal our souls. Find something that helps you stay active and animated.
  • Do not hide in alcohol, drugs, work, or training – reflect properly on your own actions.
  • Act bravely, it is better to give all you have and fall short than to not even try.

“We must learn to think rationally and clearly about our own fate. We must find spiritual meaning and goodness while we are alive.  We must treat the vessel we inhabit on this planet well – or we will be forced to abandon it early.” -Ryan Holiday.

I hope you like this review article, on Stillness is The Keyand the life lessons from Ryan Holiday’s masterwork. 

Agustin Cardone

Agustin Cardone, from Argentina, currently lives in Ireland, and studies psychology in Mexico. He fell in love with sports when he started playing rugby at 14, soon becoming team captain. He now lifts weights and practices boxing as a way to release stress. He is highly interested in the relationship between body and mind, and is curious about how the brain works and why people do what they do. He would like to help people with addiction, depression, and personality disorders. He believes we all have a story to tell and that we should express it.

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