"Stillness is the Key"

Ryan Holiday, author of three previous books distilling classical thinking and history for the modern reader, turns his attention to how we can capture and use stillness in modern life.

“Stillness Is the Key” examines how it is possible to have the stillness of mind to make important and prudent decisions in our lives. Holiday asks, “If the quiet moments are the best moments, and if so many wise, virtuous people have sung their praises, why are they so rare?”

As in his previous books, Holiday draws on writings from the ancient world—Stoics, Buddhists, Confucians, Muslims and Christians—to examine how to slow down and find stillness in the chaos. How do we make tough decisions? How do we maintain productivity? How do we manage our emotions?

In the early days of the American Civil War, President Lincoln studied maps of the United States and declared that “Vicksburg is the key.” How was he able to maintain the calmness of mind to draw this correct, but not obvious, conclusion? How have other leaders been able to do similar things? And why do they often lose track of what’s important and fail?

Holiday divides his book into bite-sized chapters with headings like “Limit Your Inputs,” “Start Journalling,” “Beware Desire,” and “Get Rid of Your Stuff.” Holiday’s book is full of poignant, on-target examples and advice.

This is a portable book, easy to stuff and in your pocket and carry with you. It’s best read in small chunks so you can absorb Holiday’s various points. Recommended for anyone who wants to consider how to find calmness in their busy days.