We are one big collective organism engaged in one endless project together. You can follow him @ryanholiday or subscribe to his writing at For my latest book, Stillness Is the Key, I looked at not just Stoicism, but Buddhism, from one of his favorite quotes: L'essentiel est invisible pour les yeux. Ryan Holiday is the master of finding ancient quotes and turning them into modern-day lessons we can use right now to get perspective. “Is this.
Related VideosOn the contrary, he advocated that we enjoy the simple pleasures. Put Your Phone Away. Push those nasty thoughts out—or let them float by like a cloud. Seek Solitude. Realize You Have Plenty.
Ryan holiday quotes stillness is the key -
The Muslims spoke of aslama. The Hebrews, hishtavut. The Epicureans, ataraxia. The Christians, aequanimitas. In English: stillness. 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. Stillness is that quiet moment when inspiration hits you. To the ancient Stoics, if one could develop this stillness , this peace within themselves—if they could achieve apatheia, as they called it—the world could be at war and in complete chaos, but they could maintain their tranquility.
They could still think well, work well, and be well. Today, we can add to that car horns, cell phone alarms and notifications, stereos or headphones, jackhammers, espresso machines, airplanes. The news with its narrative of crisis after crisis finds us on whichever device we happen to be staring at. Emails bombard us.
Requests and obligations pour in. How does anyone find time to think? To do meaningful work? To detach and relax? History proves that it is from stillness that new insights and ideas spawn. It is with stillness that perspective sharpens. It is by stillness that the ball slows down so that we might hit it. Stillness allows us to persevere. To succeed. It is the key that unlocks genius, happiness, meaning. Set thy heart upon thy work, but never on its reward.
Work not for the re- ward; but never cease to do thy work. Mastery of the bow, Kenzo knew, only came from mastery of a mental skill: detachment. And suppose that through letting go, we do find success? And for a moment, it shakes us of our smugness and releases us from the deathlike grip of habit and banality. Still, in the suffocating heat, the confined quarters, the unrelatable fear, Anne Frank looked out the window and could find in nature the boost she needed.
A quiet child, lying on her belly, reading a book. The clouds cutting over the wing of an airplane, its exhausted passengers all asleep. A man reading in his seat. A woman sleeping. A stewardess resting her feet. The rosy fingertips of dawn coming up over the mountain. A song on repeat. The pleasure of getting an assignment in before a deadline, the temporary quiet of an empty inbox. This is stillness. While stillness seems so rare and fleeting in our busy lives, the world supplies us with an inexhaustible amount of it.
Any of it, for that matter. Go outside. Take a walk. Look around. Pay attention. Be curious. Bathe in the beauty that surrounds us, always.
Everybody should know that. In training, he deliberately does not give his full effort, saving that instead for the few times per year when he races. Because he knows that the main cause of injury for elite athletes is not tripping and falling. Pitchers and quarterbacks throw out their arms. Basketball players blow out their knees. Others just get tired and burnt out from the grinding hours.
The Russian proverb: Work just makes you bent over. Many of us have talents and gifts that are so extraordinary that we owe it to ourselves and the world to express and ful ll them.
Work will not set you free. So we make mistakes that we then have to try and fix. We destroy relationships that we then have to try and repair. We burn out and fade away. Knowing your limits. Green could have consulted experts, or redesigned his swing, or lashed out against the media, the fans, and the Los Angeles Dodgers organization.
He did none of those things. Instead of giving in to those churning, anxious thoughts—instead of trying harder and harder—he tried to clear his mind entirely.
He repeated an old Zen proverb to himself: Chop wood, carry water. Chop wood, carry water. Do the work. On May 23 , ended the slump in record-setting fashion, becoming just the fourteenth player in history hit four home runs in a single game.
In all, he went six for six, with nineteen total bases, and seven runs batted in. He followed it up the next three games, going 11 for 13 with 7 home runs. When the mind is clean and clear, when it is still, incredible things happen. It has its own wikipedia page. The image is Jordan on the podium during his induction into the Basketball Hall of Fame. It was strange, surreal, and uncomfortable for the audience in attendance and watching from home. Friends were quick to note that Michael intended the speech to be helpful, to show how being overlooked and underestimated created his winning mentality, to illustrate how productive anger could be.
But instead of showing that anger is a powerful fuel, Michael proved how anger blows up all over oneself and those around them. But in the pursuit of winning and domination, he also turned it into a kind of raw, open wound, one that seemed to never stop bleeding or cause pain.
One that likely cost him additional years of winning, as well as the simple enjoyment of a special evening at the Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts. Which is why we must choose to drive out anger and replace it will love and gratitude—and purpose.
Our stillness depends on our ability to slow down and choose not to be angry, to run on different fuel. One, Holiday relates, is about a stone that resided peacefully in a grove surrounded by flowers above a busy road. I want to live in the company of my fellow stones. Its new home was not as wonderful as anticipated. Trodden over by horses and wagons, covered in dirt, chipped and jostled, the stone quickly longed for that solitary peace and quiet it left behind. More presence. More clarity.
More insight. More truth. More stillness. We are one. We are the same. Still, too often we forget it, and we forget ourselves in the process. If they could respond to the calls of their convictions as quickly as we answer the dings and rings of technology in our pockets? Get out from under all your stuff. Get rid of it. 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.
If you want to be your best, there is just one thing to do. Go to sleep.
: Ryan holiday quotes stillness is the key
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