Stillness is the Key by Ryan Holiday, my takeaways.
The emergency community quarantine (ECQ) or lockdown will surely hinder us from the things we love to do, from the places we want to chill, and from the people we want to be with. It almost seems that there is nothing productive that can be done other than attending to the invitation that this isolation offers – boredom.
“Boredom, passivity, stagnation: these are the beginning of the mental illness, which propagates itself like the scum on a stagnant pond.”– Colin Wilson, New Pathways in Psychology
Instead of submitting ourselves to boredom and just lying down all day long which even more intensifies our boredom, why not take advantage of this time of isolation as an opportunity to know ourselves better, to read a book, or to learn something new.
As I commit myself to read a book per month, I would like to take this chance to share with you my takeaways from Stillness is the Key by Ryan Holiday.
Be Still and Reflect
In ordinary days, we are too consumed by the busyness, the demands, and the noises of the outside world. But during this ECQ, permit ourselves to step away from noisy distractions and stimulations, and think about what is important to us, about the progress of our desires and our dreams, and about the meaning of our lives.
This is a chance to disconnect from the world and connect with ourselves more deeply. A chance to acknowledge our professional and personal progress since we started, the challenges we overcame, the recognition of our efforts that we received in a form of a promotion. Also, a chance to be grateful for the help, love, and support which are given by and received from our family and friends who have been the source of our inspiration and strength.
In our search for beauty, for what is good in life, for meaning, for purpose, for what is important to us, we need to look in the deeper part of our being, of our consciousness. Setting aside all the noises and interruptions.
If we will not sit still and reflect, the essential will not be made obvious. Not because it is difficult to find; it is because what is essential is invisible to the eye.
Believe We Have Enough
We keep on trying harder to achieve more. If we feel good at what we have achieved, why would we still try harder? If what we have acquired has precious meaning to us, why would we try to get more extra things? In the society that only respects the successful, it is easy to incline towards the insatiable idea that having more is a sign of success. That is why we never feel enough and know what is ‘being enough’ either.
“Nothing is enough for the man whom enough is too little.”– Epicurus
We wish to provide our family with a good life and a good future. And we are willing to sacrifice so hard for them. Our being ‘too occupied’ leads us not to notice the consequence – that is because of work that we never see them, that is because of work our relationship with them starts to create problems.
“Who is there who would wish to be surrounded by all the riches in the world and enjoy every abundance in life and yet not love or be loved by anyone?”– Cicero
Enjoy the stillness of this time. Life is not all about work. We must know when to do a stopover and see the bigger picture that the fruits of our efforts have been, by far, enough.
We can stop and spend quality time with our families. We can stop and appreciate the small and big works we have done for ourselves and for them. Listen to their stories. Laugh with them. Only then we will realize that enough comes from nowhere but from the inside.
Find a Hobby
I am bored too often during this ECQ. Instead of getting overwhelmingly bored, I choose to do my hobbies which include taking care of my plants and dogs, doing easy DIY woodworks like shelves in the kitchen and bookshelf in my room, and hitting my goal to read a book per month.
A hobby is a voluntary act not compulsory. Once we discover what hobby fits us, nobody guarantees that we will be paid, rewarded, nor validated for it. Also, we can quit anytime if we are having difficulty doing it, or there is sudden change of heart.
It can be anything. It can be writing thoughtful, philosophical letters like Seneca, learning how to code like NBA champion Chris Bosh, or painting or bricklaying, if possible, like Winston Churchill.
While it includes a diverse array of activities, one can do it with a different intention. Some do it because it is their passion, their art, or something they are good at. And others do it as a form of diversion, of relaxation, of a source of experience or learning. (I read books for these exact reasons.)
Many people believe that engaging in a hobby has an intrinsic effect on calming our minds and helping improve the health and function of our brains. It has been a way of many to feel that they are present, they are productive, they matter, they have a purpose, and they are connected with their inner selves.
Since we have an unusual ample amount of extra time during this ECQ, instead of submitting ourselves to boredom, let us take this as an opportunity to find a hobby.
Stillness is the Key is a source of wisdom on how to live life in solitude and stillness. It also encourages us, the readers, how to think rationally and clearly about our fate. As we journey on, we can realize the meaning and the purpose of our lives even in solitude, even in stillness.
My 2020 goal is to read a book per month; share with people what I learn from, and feel about the book. And for April 2020, the book I read is Stillness is the Key by Ryan Holiday