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Stillness is The Key Summary Ryan Holiday

Stillness is The Key Summary Ryan Holiday

Stillness is The Key Summary Ryan Holiday

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Stillness is The Key quotes

THE DOMAIN OF THE MIND

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.

BECOME PRESENT

You have plenty on your

plate right now. Focus on that, no matter how small or insignificant

it is. Do the very best you can right now.Don’t think about what

detractors may say. Don’t dwell or needlessly complicate. Be here.

Be all of you.

LIMIT YOUR INPUTS

The way you feel when you awake early in the morning and your

mind is fresh and as yet unsoiled by the noise of the outside world

that’s space worth protecting. So too is the zone you lock into when

you’re really working well.

Don’t let intrusions bounce you out of it.

Put up barriers. Put up the proper chuting to direct what’s urgent

and unimportant to the right people.

EMPTY THE MIND

Imagine if Kennedy had spent the Cuban Missile Crisis

obsessing over the Bay of Pigs. Imagine if Shawn Green had tried

frantically to re-create his swing because it wasn’t working, or if he

had faced those pitchers with a racing mind, filled with insecurities

and desperation.

We’ve all experienced that—Don’t mess up. Don’t

mess up. Don’t forget, we say to ourselves—and what happens? We

do exactly what we were trying not to do!

SLOW DOWN, THINK DEEPLY

If you invest the time and mental energy, you’ll not only find

what’s interesting (or your next creative project), you’ll find truth.

You’ll find what other people have missed. You’ll find solutions to

the problems we face—whether it’s insight to the logic of the Soviets

and their missiles in Cuba, or how to move your business forward,


or how to make sense of senseless violence.

START JOURNALING

According to one study, journaling helps improve well-being after traumatic and stressful events.

CULTIVATE SILENCE

Each of us needs to cultivate those moments in our lives. Where

we limit our inputs and turn down the volume so that we can access

a deeper awareness of what’s going on around us. In shutting up—

even if only for a short period—we can finally hear what the world

has been trying to tell us. Or what we’ve been trying to tell

ourselves.

SEEK WISDOM

Find people you admire and ask how they got where they are.

Seek book recommendations. Isn’t that what Socrates would do?

Add experience and experimentation on top of this. Put yourself in

tough situations. Accept challenges. Familiarize yourself with the

unfamiliar. That’s how you widen your perspective and your

understanding. The wise are still because they have seen it all. They

know what to expect because they’ve been through so much.

They’ve made mistakes and learned from them. And so must you.

FIND CONFIDENCE, AVOID EGO

Both egotistical and insecure people make their

flaws central to their identity—either by covering them up or by

brooding over them or externalizing them. For them stillness is

impossible, because stillness can only be rooted in strength.

LET GO

THE DOMAIN OF THE SOUL

Our soul is where we secure our happiness and unhappiness,

contentment or emptiness—and ultimately, determine the extent of our greatness.

CHOOSE VIRTUE

There’s no question it’s possible to get ahead in life by lying and

cheating and generally being awful to other people. This may even

be a quick way to the top. But it comes at the expense of not only

your self-respect, but your security too.

Virtue, on the other hand, as crazy as it might seem, is a far more

attainable and sustainable way to succeed.

HEAL THE INNER CHILD

Take the time to think about the pain you carry from your early

experiences. Think about the “age” of the emotional reactions you

have when you are hurt or betrayed or unexpectedly challenged in

some way.

That’s your inner child. They need a hug from you. They

need you to say, “Hey, buddy. It’s okay. I know you’re hurt, but I am

going to take care of you.”

BEWARE DESIRE

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. This is how we become who we want to be in this world.

ENOUGH

If you believe there is ever some point where you will feel like

you’ve “made it,” when you’ll finally be good, you are in for an

unpleasant surprise.

What do we want more of in life? That’s the question. It’s not

accomplishments. It’s not popularity. It’s moments when we feel

like we are enough.

BATHE IN BEAUTY

Don’t let the beauty of life escape you. See the world as the

temple that it is. Let every experience be churchlike. Marvel at the

fact that any of this exists—that you exist.

Even when we are killing

each other in pointless wars, even when we are killing ourselves

with pointless work, we can stop and bathe in the beauty that

surrounds us, always

ACCEPT A HIGHER POWER

Even if we are the products of evolution and randomness, does

this not take us right back to the position of the Stoics? As subjects

to the laws of gravity and physics, are we not already accepting a

higher, inexplicable power?

We have so little control of the world around us, so many

inexplicable events created this world, that it works out almost

exactly the same way as if there was a god.

In Chinese philosophy, dao—the Way—is the natural order of the universe, the way of a higher spirit.


The Greeks not only believed in many different gods, but also that individuals

were accompanied by a daemon, a guiding spirit that led them to

their destiny.

The Confucians believed in Tian, 天—a concept of heaven that

guided us while we were here on earth and assigned us a role or

purpose in life. The Hindus believed that Brahman was the highest

universal reality. In Judaism, Yahweh ( ) is the word for Lord.

Each of the major Native American tribes had their own word for

the Great Spirit

ENTER RELATIONSHIPS

Life without relationships, focused solely on accomplishment, is

empty and meaningless (in addition to being precarious and fragile).

A life solely about work and doing is terribly out of balance; indeed,

it requires constant motion and busyness to keep from falling apart.

The notion that isolation, that total self-driven focus, will get

you to a supreme state of enlightenment is not only incorrect, it

misses the obvious:

Who will even care that you did all that? Your

house might be quieter without kids and it might be easier to work

longer hours without someone waiting for you at the dinner table,

but it is a hollow quiet and an empty ease.

To go through our days looking out for no one but ourselves? To

think that we can or must do this all alone? To accrue mastery or

genius, wealth or power, solely for our own benefit? What is the

point?

CONQUER YOUR ANGER

The Buddhists believed that anger was a kind of tiger within us,

one whose claws tear at the body that houses it. To have a chance at

stillness—and the clear thinking and big-picture view that defines it

—we need to tame that tiger before it kills us. We have to beware of

desire, but conquer anger, because anger hurts not just ourselves

ALL IS ONE

We are one big collective organism engaged in one endless project together. We are one.

THE DOMAIN OF THE BODY

Rise above our physical limitations.

Find hobbies that rest and replenish us.

Develop a reliable, disciplined routine.

Spend time getting active outdoors.

Seek out solitude and perspective.

Learn to sit—to do nothing when called for.

Get enough sleep and rein in our workaholism.

Commit to causes bigger than ourselves.

SAY NO

Maybe it’s not the most virtuous thing to say “No, sorry, I can’t”

when you really can but just don’t want to.

But can you really?

Can you really afford to do it? And does it not harm other people if

you’re constantly stretched too thin?

TAKE A WALK

Stress and difficulty can knock us down. Sitting at our

computers, we are overwhelmed with information, with emails,

with one thing after another.

Should we just sit there and absorb it?

Should we sit there with the sickness and let it fester?

No. Should we get up and throw ourselves into some other project

constructive, like cleaning, or cathartic, like picking a fight? No. We

shouldn’t do any of that.

We should get walking.

BUILD A ROUTINE

When we not only automate and routinize the trivial parts of

life, but also make automatic good and virtuous decisions, we free

up resources to do important and meaningful exploration

GET RID OF YOUR STUFF

You were born free—free of stuff, free of burden. But since the

first time they measured your tiny body for clothes,

people have been foisting stuff upon you. And you’ve been adding links to the

pile of chains yourself ever since.

SEEK SOLITUDE

Microsoft founder and philanthropist Bill Gates has, twice a year for many


years now, taken what he calls a “think week.”

He spends seven days alone in a cabin in the forest. There, physically removing himself

from the daily interruptions of his work, he can really sit down and think.

BE A HUMAN BEING

Do you want to be the artist who loses their joy for

the process, who has strip-mined their soul in such a way that there

is nothing left to draw upon?

Burn out or fade away—that was the question in Kurt Cobain’s suicide note.

How is that even a dilemma?

GO TO SLEEP

How did the Zen master Hakuin prepare for his epic lecture, The

Records of Old Sokko? He slept. A lot. He slept so much and so

soundly that one of his students said that “his snores reverberated

through the house like rumblings of thunder.”

FIND A HOBBY

Seneca pointed out how readily we take risks with uncertain

payoffs in our career—but we’re afraid to risk even one minute of

time for leisure.

There’s nothing to feel guilty about for being idle. It’s not

reckless.

It’s an investment. There is nourishment in pursuits that

have no purpose—that is their purpose.

BEWARE ESCAPISM

The next time we feel the urge to flee, to hit the road or bury

ourselves in work or activity, we need to catch ourselves. Don’t book

a cross-country flight—go for a walk instead.

Don’t get high—get some solitude, find some quiet. These are far easier, far more

accessible, and ultimately far more sustainable strategies for accessing the stillness we were born with.

ACT BRAVELY

Pick up the phone and make the call to tell someone what they

mean to you. Share your wealth. Run for office. Pick up the trash

you see on the ground. Step in when someone is being bullied.

Step in even if you’re scared, even if you might get hurt. Tell the truth.

Maintain your vows, keep your word. Stretch out a hand to someone who has fallen.

If we want to be good and feel good, we have to do good.

There is no escaping this.

Dive in when you hear the cry for help. Reach out when you see

the need. Do kindness where you can.

Because you’ll have to find a way to live with yourself if you don’t.

ON TO THE FINAL ACT

It was Cicero who said that to study philosophy is to learn how

to die.

Most of this book has been about how to live well. But in so

doing, it is also about how to die well.

Because they are the same thing.

Death is where the three domains we have studied in these

pages come together.

My mind is empty. My heart is full. My body is busy.

Attamen tranquillus.

One of the simplest and most accessible entry points into stillness is gratitude.

Gratitude for being alive, for the lucky breaks you’ve

gotten, and for all the people in your life who have helped you

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