Pursue What Matters
Episode 173: Book Review – Stillness is the Key
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Dr. Melissa Smith 0:00
Do you have enough quiet in your life? Do you have whitespace? Join me today as I share an excellent book with you, helping us to remember, stillness is the key.
Dr. Melissa Smith 0:13
Hi, I’m Dr. Melissa Smith, welcome to the Pursue What Matters podcast where we focus on what it takes to thrive in love and work. So I am sharing a really great book, I read this a few years ago, and I absolutely loved it, my copy is all marked up is the kind of book that you can just leave on your nightstand and come back to because it’s got some great truths for us. So I have reviewed other books by this author. The book is stillness is the key. And it is by Ryan Holiday. And he has lots of great books, including the obstacle is the way and Ego is the Enemy. And I believe I have reviewed one of those books before. One of the things that Ryan Holiday does is so he has a website called the daily stoic and he really brings to our modern day some of the wisdom of the Stoics and make and doesn’t translation and helps us to understand this the stoic thinking a bit more. And I really like his approach. It’s very, very approachable. And so let’s talk about stillness is the key. So this book first came out in 2019. It’s definitely a best seller. And so let’s hear a little bit about what others are saying about the book.
Dr. Melissa Smith 1:56
So first of all, from Angela Duckworth, she said, this is a must read in our noisy world. And boy, I think that is so true. And from Mark Manson, the number one best selling author of the subtle art of not getting an off in this age of constant distraction, the ability to choose the focused inner stillness that Ryan champions is more important than ever. And then Manu good not gonna Bailey sorry for time, NBA champion and Olympic gold medalist, said this is a wise and important read. And then from Arianna Huffington, whether you are an athlete and investor writer or an entrepreneur, this little bit soulful book will open the door to a healthier, less anxious and more productive life and career. So this is what Ryan Holiday has to say about the book stillness. Just listen to that. All the philosophies of the ancient world from the Stoics, to the Buddhist, the Confucians, to the Christians spoke of it as the most powerful force on earth, is the ability to slow things down, to clarify your thinking, to center your soul, to direct your efforts to be steady, while the world spins. Stillness is the secret to elite performance to leadership. And creativity is the piece that makes room for happiness. I love that stillness is the piece that makes room for happiness. It is the key to everything that matters. The question is so and this is his question for us. How can you find it? And what would be possible? If you did. So over the past few weeks, I have been talking about slowing down, right, so we can focus on what matters most. And I think this is such a great companion to this.
Dr. Melissa Smith 3:41
So let’s talk just a little bit about the structure of the book. So there are three parts to this book first, part one is the mind, part two, spirit and part three, body. And so he talks about how stillness is the key in each of those different areas. So let’s just cover a few of the sections. So gives you kind of a flavor of what he talks about.
Dr. Melissa Smith 4:06
So with part one mind, he talks to us about becoming present to limit your inputs. I absolutely love that. Limit your input so you can focus better. He talks about emptying the mind. He talks about slowing down and thinking deeply. He also has a great section on journaling, in which I’m a big fan of cultivating silence. Are there opportunities in your life to cultivate silence? How do you seek wisdom? How do you find confidence while avoiding the ego? And then letting go and there’s a lot encompassed in those in that word, right? And those two words let go, much harder to do. Most of us want to let go, but we refuse to one of the things as we think about the mind that I often tell myself is do I want peace How do I want, right? Do I want to be right? And I constantly have to remind myself, I want peace. And when I can choose peace, I can let go of things. And I can avoid things from becoming a problem. And so I think that is a gut check for each of us to ask, what do we really want? Do we want to be right? Or do we want peace and that can shift how we interact not only with ourselves, but also with others. And then let’s take a quick look at Part Two, which is spirit. And so with with this section, he talks about choosing virtue, he encourages us to heal the inner child, to be where desire to have enough to be enough to overcome this consumerism, mentality. To bathe in beauty, and accept a higher power, enter relationships, conquer your anger, that’s a big one. And all is one right? And that is a common mindfulness. Tenet, right? The all in one like, you’re you’re always meeting yourself, right. That’s what Eckhart Tolle says, and then just as an overview of part three, which is body, he encourages us to say no, to take a walk, build a routine, get rid of your stuff. I love that one. I know when I get stressed, it’s time for me to declutter. And I’m not a cluttery person. But when I clean out my closet, which I do about every six months, I just feel lighter. I feel I feel more still I feel like I can focus a little bit better. He invites us to seek solitude, go to sleep, find a hobby, beware of escapism, right? So that’s something I’ve talked about recently, these numbing behaviors that disconnect us they don’t actually help us to be aware or to find stillness, and then act bravely. So those that’s a nice little just overview of what he talks about in the book.
Dr. Melissa Smith 7:05
Okay, so I just want to share a little bit from the introduction. He says that the call to stillness comes quietly, the modern world does not. In addition to the clatter and chatter and intrigue and infighting that would be familiar to citizens of Senecas time, we have car horn, stereos, cell phone alarm, social media, notifications, chainsaws, airplanes, our personal and professional problems are equally overwhelming competitors muscle into our industry, our desk, our desk piled high with papers and our inboxes overflow with messages. We are always reachable, which means the arguments and updates are never far away. The new bombards us with one crisis after another on every screen we owe, of which there are many, the grind of work wears us down and seems to never stop. We are overfed and undernourished, overstimulated, over scheduled and lonely, who has the power to stop? Who has time to think Is there anyone not affected by the din and dysfunctions of our time. And so he really makes the case for being very intentional about creating stillness, because the world we live in, does not point us to stillness. So next, Ryan Holiday talks about how stillness is the key to a lot of things, so to thinking clearly, to seeing the whole chessboard, to making tough decisions, to managing our emotions, to identifying the right goals, to handling high pressure situations, to maintaining relationships, to building good habits, to being productive, to physical excellence, to feeling fulfilled, to capturing moments of laughter, and joy. Another word for stillness is awareness. Right, because it brings you into the present moment, which is the only moment where you have any power to make choices, to act wisely, which is why stillness is the key to everything.
Dr. Melissa Smith 8:59
So he says, stillness is the key to well, just about everything, to being a better parent, a better artist, a better investor, a better athlete, a better scientist, a better human being, to unlocking all that we are capable of in this life. He also says that stillness is not some new age, soft science. It is something that that we can see throughout the threads of life. And in fact, he talks about an evolutionary system with animals where stillness helps them to survive. So you think about birds. So this is not something new. It’s something that we’ve always needed. And we think about our most important philosophical traditions, they all point to stillness as key to well being.
Dr. Melissa Smith 9:42
So I will, I will end with this. He says that the patients that follow tell the stories and strategies of men and women who were just like you who struggled as you struggle amid the noise and responsibilities of life, but managed to succeed in finding and harnessing stillness, you will hear stories of the tribe Samsung trials of John F. Kennedy and Fred Rogers and Frank and Queen Victoria. There will be stories about Jesus and Tiger Woods Socrates Napoleon, the composer, John Cage. Sendero. Oh Rosanne Cash Dorothy Day Buddha, Leonardo da Vinci, Socrates and Marcus Aurelius, right. So pretty broad there will also draw on poetry and novels, philosophical texts and scientific research, we will read every school and every area era, we can find strategies to help us direct our thoughts, process our emotions, and master our bodies. So we can do less, and do more. So that’s really what I meant in my podcast when I said, slow down, so you can speed up, right, speed up, meaning do more of what you can best do accomplish more, but needed last, feel better and be better at the same time. To achieve stillness, we’ll need to focus on the three domains, the timeless Trinity of Mind, Body Soul. So those are the three parts of the book, the head, the heart, the flesh, and each domain, we will seek to reduce the disturbances that make stillness, impossible, to cease to be at war with the world and within ourselves, and to establish a lasting inner and outer piece instead, you know, that is what you want and what you deserve. That’s why you picked up this book. It’s why I’m sharing this book.
Dr. Melissa Smith 11:19
So let us answer the call together, let us find, let us lock into the stillness that we seek. So this is, like I said, a great book to keep on your nightstand. It’s good to just review to check in with, to really help you to stay in alignment, with stillness with that goal with that desire to see yourself and the world clearly. And that’s really what I love about stillness and awareness. Right. It’s another way of thinking about mindfulness.
Dr. Melissa Smith 11:49
And so I hope that this book can be helpful for you. It’s been a really great resource for me, and so you can head on over to my website, check out the show notes with the resources including a link to this book at www.drmelissasmith.com/173-stillnessisthekey I hope that you’ll connect with me on Instagram @dr.melissasmith. I’ll have more resources from the book there. And I’d love to interact with you there. In the meantime, I’m Dr. Melissa Smith. Remember love and work, work and love. That’s all there is. Until next time, take good care.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai