Stillness Is the Key: Quotes by Ryan Holiday

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In his book Stillness Is the Key, Ryan Holiday explains how to cultivate stillness in your mind, body, and soul. Holiday assures that stillness is accessible to everyone at any time, but you must keep practicing to get to a point where it’s consistently maintained and readily accessible to you. 

Below is a selection of passages with explanations.

Stillness Is the Key: An Ancient Strategy for Modern Life

In his 2019 book Stillness Is the Key, Ryan Holiday takes us through the dimensions of the mind, soul, and body, explaining how to cultivate stillness in each area. He explains that stillness is a state of being that can enrich our lives, guide us to make better decisions, and encourage a sense of connectedness to everything around us.

The following Stillness Is the Key quotes highlight some of the key ideas:

“Stillness is what aims the archer’s arrow. It inspires new ideas. It sharpens perspective and illuminates connections.”

In addition to dealing calmly and effectively with challenges, cultivating stillness in your life allows you to have breakthrough moments of inspiration and genius. When we learn to calm the chatter, worries, and petty concerns, our minds become clear and we’re able to access the deeper thoughts, ideas, and inspiration that are normally obscured by the mental chatter.

“Be present. And if you’ve had trouble with this in the past? That’s okay. That’s the nice thing about the present. It keeps showing up to give you a second chance.”

Holiday says we waste too much of our time and mental energy thinking about the past or future. Those do not exist at this moment. Only this moment is real and present. Remind yourself of this every day. One practical step he recommends you can take toward this goal is to not be so concerned with taking photos of everything, but enjoy moments as they are. 

He also points out that engaging in creative endeavors helps keep us in the present. Presence is one thing that characterizes artists, because being creative means being in the “flow” of the moment. So, a regular practice of journaling, focusing on the present moment, and being creative can help keep your mind clear and still.  

“This is what the best journals look like. They aren’t for the reader. They are for the writer. To slow the mind down. To wage peace with oneself.”

According to Ryan Holiday, a daily journaling practice is the mental equivalent of regularly clearing the cobwebs out of your home. It’s no coincidence that almost every creative or intellectual genius in history kept a journal. Many people journal first thing in the morning, and some write again at the end of each day. Just write down any thoughts that come into your head. Holiday says there’s no right or wrong way to journal, but if you practice some amount of freewriting like this every day, it will clear the jumbled thoughts from your mind, allow you to reflect back on your thoughts later, and make room for flashes of insight to come through. 

Stillness Is the Key: Quotes by Ryan Holiday

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Here's what you'll find in our full Stillness Is the Key summary:

  • Why stillness is not just the absence of motion
  • How to cultivate stillness in your mind, body, and soul
  • Why you should start ignoring the news

Darya Sinusoid

Darya’s love for reading started with fantasy novels (The LOTR trilogy is still her all-time-favorite). Growing up, however, she found herself transitioning to non-fiction, psychological, and self-help books. She has a degree in Psychology and a deep passion for the subject. She likes reading research-informed books that distill the workings of the human brain/mind/consciousness and thinking of ways to apply the insights to her own life. Some of her favorites include Thinking, Fast and Slow, How We Decide, and The Wisdom of the Enneagram.

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