Book – Stillness is The Key (Summary)
Author – Ryan Holiday
Genre – Self-help Book
Published in – 2019
“Stillness is not an excuse to withdraw from the world’s affairs. Quite the opposite—it’s a tool to let you do more good for more people.”
One of the best lines in the book that shows Stillness is not limited to monks anymore and is very much streamlined and is indeed the need of the hour for each of us to lead a peaceful, happy life.
Ryan talks about the significance of Stillness in our day-to-day lives. I like his writing style, and anyone who has read any of his books will testify to his frank way of putting across his point and giving straight advice.
About the Author –
Ryan Holiday is one of the world’s foremost thinkers and writers on ancient philosophy and its place in everyday life. He is a sought-after speaker, strategist, and the author of many bestselling books, including The Obstacle Is the Way, Ego Is the Enemy, and The Daily Stoic.
About the Book –
Stillness is not only advocated by philosophy as the key to a serene life and achieving what we want in life but also supported by science. Many types of research have been conducted on the advantages of Stillness. The book promises to help readers find that key.
Ryan defines Stillness as being able to 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.
The book is divided into three parts and suggests achieving Stillness in Mind, Spirit, and Body. He explains and offers ways of achieving this through anecdotes and examples of famous philosophers, athletes, politicians, and emperors.
He explains how these people solved their concerns with principles suggested in the book and how we can use them to resolve our modern time’s concern of distraction and overload of information for a peaceful life.
Key Points From Each Section
Part – I – MIND –
1) Being Present in the Moment –
- This sounds very simple, yet it is one of the most challenging things, full of distractions. Think about it. When was the last time you ever felt you were in the Moment or got undivided attention from someone?
- As Maria Abramovic says – “People don’t understand that the hardest thing is doing something close to nothing; it demands all of you.” There is no object to hide behind. It’s just you.
2) Control Your Input –
- Be very cautious of the intake of information, and as our mind can process everything, it is our job to make sure only what matters gets the total energy of our brain. Ask yourself at every Moment, ‘Is this necessary?’
- There’s a great saying: Garbage in, garbage out. If you want sound output, you have to watch over the inputs.
3) Keeping Journal –
- Michel Foucault talked of the ancient genre of hupomnemata (notes to oneself). He called the Journal a “weapon for spiritual combat,” a way to practice philosophy, purge the mind of agitation and foolishness, and overcome difficulty.
One line on journaling – A few minutes of reflection demands and creates Stillness.
Journaling is a way to ask tough questions: It can also be looked over as a brain dump in moments of anxiety/overwhelm.
- Where am I standing in my way?
- What’s the most minor step I can take toward a big thing today?
- Why am I so worked up about this?
- What blessings can I count on right now?
- Why do I care so much about impressing people?
- What is the more complicated choice I’m avoiding?
- Do I rule my fears, or do they judge me?
- How will today’s difficulties reveal my character?
I am benefiting a lot from journaling. It helps me clear my mind and reminds me of what matters most.
PART – II – SPIRIT –
1) Beware Desire –
- We need to analyze our desires and put them under the microscope as to where they come from. Is it coming from comparison, or is it something we want?
- To have an impulse and to resist it, to sit with it and examine it, to let it pass by like a bad smell—this is how we develop spiritual strength.
2) Enough –
- No one is happier than the person who knows what is enough and appreciates and enjoys when he has enough. Ryan explains this with delicious anecdotes.
- Epicurus sums it up pretty well with one line – “Nothing is enough for the man, to whom enough is too little.”
3) Enter into Relationship –
- Stillness doesn’t mean we have to leave the world behind. Ryan suggests getting into a relationship, as most joy and happiness come from our relationship with ourselves and others. Our relationship with self also improves through experience, which requires a relationship with others.
- As Seneca puts it, possessing anything valuable is no joy unless one has someone to share it with.
PART – III – BODY –
1) Say No –
- When we know what to say no to, we can say yes to the things that matter. When we want to count and consider necessary or, as we call FOMO (fear of missing out), we often say Yes to many things that we don’t even want in the first place.
- This reminds me of one line in a book I read: “Either it’s Hell Yeah or Not at all. If you struggle with saying NO, consider reading a small book called “The Art of Saying NO.”
2) Take a Walk –
- This is simple yet highly beneficial. Much research has been done on the benefits of walking for both body, mind, and spirit. You may consider the below suggestions if you opt for a walk.
- Go to different places if possible.
- Instead of listening to music or anything. The observer you’re surrounding, be present and enjoy every Moment. Focus on your thoughts, and let go of all worries.
3) Build Routine –
- The first thing that comes to mind with the word routine is boredom. However, there are numerous stories of success proving the need for it. Anyone who has achieved significant success in any domain has a routine.
- If you read self-help books or follow people online, you will come across many great routine ideas, and it doesn’t matter which one you pick, so long as it serves you well in accomplishing anything you opt for.
I have also created a video of a few quotes from the book – I hope you like it. Please subscribe to my YouTube channel – Myread4change.
The book is filled with many more ideas over and above, which I shared in this summary. I suggest you consider reading this book. I am sure you will love the book and consider putting into practice what the book offers.
If you like this book, you may also enjoy reading In The Sphere of Silence.
Please share your feedback/suggestions on this summary in the comment, or if you have any questions, I will gladly answer them.
I wish you a peaceful life.