Stillness is the key is the new book of Ryan Holiday that just came out about a month ago and it finishes his trilogy about… I wanted to write that about stoic philosophy, but it’s not really the truth. The author doesn’t write only about stoicism, but much more about ancient pearls of wisdom and philosophy.
True that stoicism is a massive part of Stillness is the key, just like of the other two books (The Obstacle Is The Way and Ego is the Enemy), but other philosophical schools and religions are also involved. After all, - originally - there are much more common elements among them than differences, it’s just us, ordinary people, who keep focusing on the differences.
The book is divided between the mind, the spirit and the body. The elements of our life that we have to keep in balance. Holiday uses a metaphor suggesting that these areas are like three legs of a stool. It can only stand still if the three legs are balanced.
So the common wisdom of the ancients, are organized about mental, spiritual and physical lessons that will help us slow down, reconnect with ourselves and keep sane in this constantly running world.
Let me share you briefly one element of each area.
Ryan Holiday suggest us to find more silence in our life. We - especially those working in an open office - live in constant noise and what do we do to mute that out? We add more noise, right? Deep thinking can best work in the absence of voices.
If we check what the biggest CEOs, Wall Street leaders, senior executives do in order to recharge, we’d find activities such as listening to classical music, long-distance cycling, diving. The absence of voice.
We should seek out silence more to help us wind down, to help us think more clearly.
To gain or keep our spiritual stillness, he suggests to have a deep look and try to understand what early experiences we carry from our childhood. We shall think about what kind of emotional reactions we have when we feel hurt, betrayed or unexpectedly challenge. It’s our inner child speaking. We have to recognize that youngster and accept it. Only then we can break the cycle and change our behaviour. To drop the old story, we have to understand it.
As the last example, let’s take a walk around light physical activities, such as walking. While some would not expect this, but a way to stillness is, in fact, to keep moving. To keep walking. For many great minds, walking - a lot - was the way to release stress and get new ideas. Freud, Hemingway, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Tesla, just to name a few.
When we walk we don’t really have to think about the physical activity itself, we just put one leg after the other. Of course, we do look around and pay some attention, but we are still and we start thinking about things that matter for us. A study at one of the US universities even found that footsteps can increase the blood supply of the brain, another study suggests walking can help fighting depression.
A more active brain and a healthier soul and body might be the result of a regular big walk.
I also particularly enjoy those parts of the year, when I can easily get out to the forest next to our office. After a lunch break walk, I feel that I, in fact, live two days in one.
Let’s walk more.
I enjoy the writings of Ryan Holiday, not just his books, but also his newsletters, book recommendations. His latest book, Stillness Is The Key has not disappointed me. It gave me a lot of ideas to think about,
new ancient ways to bring more stillness, more calm to my life. A highly recommended book.