Ryan Holiday’s newest book, Stillness Is The Key, came out at the beginning of October. I ended up with two copies and thought I’d read it over the weekend after they showed up at my house. The weekend slipped by and I didn’t pick it up until mid-day on Thanksgiving.
It was pouring rain in San Diego all day so it was a perfect laying on the couch reading afternoon. I just finished and, once again, Ryan delivered with this book.
Ryan divided the book into three sections: Mind, Spirit, and Body. He has a thorough exploration, broken up into about a dozen chapters, for each category. As is his style, there are many detailed and powerful examples.
He leads with Seneca, a friend of all Stoics and a frequent visitor in Ryan’s writing. He tells a short story around apatheia, or upekkha, or aslama, or hishtavut, or samatvam, or euthymia, or hesychia, or ataraxia, or aequanimitas – a word that finally comes closer to translation into English.
That word is stillness. In the intro to the book, Ryan says,
“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.
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—as the highest good and as the key to elite performance and a happy life.
And when basically all of the widom of the ancient world agrees on something, only a fool would decline to listen.“
I thought the chapters in each section were extremely well-titled and are listed below. Like reading a poem, slow yourself down and, instead of skimming the next three paragraphs, read them aloud.
Mind: The domain of the mind, Become present, Limit your inputs, Empty the mind, Slow down think deeply, Start journaling, Cultivate silence, Seek wisdom, Find confidence avoid ego, Let go.
Spirit: The domain of the soul, Choose virtue, Heal the inner child, Beware desire, Enough, Bathe in beauty, Accept a higher power, Enter relationships, Conquer your anger, All is one.
Body: The domain of the body, Say no, Take a walk, Build a routine, Get rid of your stuff, Seek solitude, Be a human being, Go to sleep, Find a hobby, Beware escapism, Act bravely.
If even one chapter in each section strikes a chord with you, I encourage you to grab a copy of Stillness Is The Key.
Ryan – thanks for adding another phenomenal book to my bookshelf.
This book was a delight. I started reading it earlier this year, caught up quickly (I started in July), and then mostly read a page each day when I was in the bathroom in the morning. I let it unfold slowly, reading the daily quote and Ryan Holiday’s (and Stephen Hanselman’s) thoughts on the quote, and then rereading the quote.
I was near the end so I finished it off last night. I smiled when after I read the December 31 meditation.
Stoicism is fascinating to me. While I don’t categorize myself as anything and try to resist being put in boxes, I like to take elements of different philosophies, religions, approaches, and styles and weave them into the fabric of me. As I was reading The Daily Stoic I found many ideas that spoke to me.
I’ve known Ryan from a distance for a while. We ended up at a dinner together at either SXSW or CES a number of years together and I remember an interesting and engaged conversation. For a while, I subscribed to his monthly Reading List email but in a fit of unsubscribing from everything, I unsubscribed.
I just re-subscribed.
Several times a year, I send a book (or two) to all the CEOs in our portfolio. I sent this one out this fall. I’ve heard back from a few that they enjoyed it, and I’m hoping that most of the CEOs are at least dipping into it.
If you’ve heard any of the names Zeno of Citium, Chrysippus, Cato the Younger, Seneca, Epictetus, Hierocles, or Marcus Aurelius, then you’ve heard of at least one of the famous Stoic philosophers. If you’ve studied any of them, you are in for a treat with this book as it presents Stoicism in a unique and very accessible way.
The book starts with a quote every day on January 1st. You’ve still got a few days to grab a copy from Amazon and start the year out with a daily dose of Stoicism.