Stillness is the Key: An Ancient Strategy for Modern Life – Book Review

19 May Stillness is the Key: An Ancient Strategy for Modern Life – Book Review

Our world is full of noise. Our digital age has saturated us in great technology which makes our lives easier, yet more cluttered. Social media increases our ability to connect, yet also our inability to “switch off”. How can we make the best out of modern innovations like these without disturbing the inner balance of our souls? Ryan Holiday’s book, “Stillness is the Key”, offers some answers.

In his latest book, Holiday explains how slowing down is the key to getting ahead – whether you want to build a new business, excel as an athlete or simply find great inner peace and happiness. In this compelling book, you will find practical ways to reduce anxiety, achieve greater calm whilst also – ultimately – becoming more productive. Many of us fall into the trap of believing that we need to be “busy” and stressed to get further ahead. Yet, similar to the story of the turtle and the hare, the best way to long-term success is to learn to take regular “pit stops” for your heart and mind.

This book is, in fact, the latest in a trilogy: The Obstacle is the Way (2014), Ego is the Enemy (2016), and Stillness is the Key (2019). Although you will benefit from reading all three, none of them are dependent on each other. You can read Holiday’s latest book on its own and get plenty out of it. Similar to the previous two, Stillness is the Key is highly influenced by Stoicism. The main concept he builds on here is that of apatheia (freedom from unhealthy passions), quoting the ancient words of the Roman Marcus Aurelius:

“Be like the rock that the waves keep crashing over. It stands, unmoved and the raging of the sea falls still around it” (Meditations, 4.49).

One of the strengths of Stillness is the Key is that it feels like a more mature work compared to the first book – The Obstacle is the Way. Whilst the latter focused almost exclusively on the heroes’ strengths, this new book is more balanced in reflecting on their weaknesses – making the content and admonitions more relatable and realistic. Stillness is the Key also incorporates an interesting element of eastern wisdom – namely Buddhism – into its largely Stoic thinking, portraying how to live a life defined by inner equilibrium and silence. He delves into this clearly across three main sections to the book: Mind, Spirit, and Body.

Overall, if you want an action-oriented book about how to achieve greater inner stillness (and you like Ryan Holiday’s previous works) then Stillness is the Key is a great read. At 256 pages and with very engaging, digestible content, this book can be finished within a few days for the avid reader. Holiday is a writer who always brings value to his audience and offers wisdom handed down from all corners of the globe, unified into an understandable and enjoyable message. We at Tandem hope that you read it and benefit even more from it than we have!