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Finding Stillness Within: A Book Review of Ryan Holiday's "Stillness is the Key"

Updated: May 25

Ryan Holiday: Stillness is the key書評

Author Ryan Holiday shares stories of people and their experiences in different fields, combining them with various philosophical thoughts, including Buddhism, Stoicism, Epicureanism.

"Slowing down is the secret that allows us to keep moving forward. Only when the mind is calm can we think and reflect.", The author emphasized.

The book divides Stillness into three domains - Mind, Spirit, and Body. Here are the chapters I found most thought-provoking in each domain.

【Chapter: Let Go】

"Concentrate your mind on what you are doing, never on its reward."

Kenzo Awa日本弓箭老師

The author believes that the more we want something, or the more we insist on a certain outcome, the harder it is to achieve. He cites the assertion of a Japanese archery master, Kenzo Awa. This master never taught students how to deliberately aim to hit the target because he believed that hitting the target was aimless, merely an external affirmation that only exposed egolessness.

The focus is still on the process. If we focus on each step, embrace the process, and give up the chase, we will gain the calmness we need. Just as we think more clearly when we don't force ourselves to think. On the other hand, when we are overly obsessed with the outcome, we often engage in extreme behaviors.

"Nervousness is our obsession with the outcome." This applies not only to training but also to life and work. Therefore, we need to know how to let go and release, to understand that the more skilled a person is, the more they value practice over results.

“Go On Practicing As If Nothing Happened.”

Letting go of attachments, taking a step back, and focusing on the process brings the calm of enjoying the present moment, allowing us to appreciate the bigger picture.

Chapter: Conquer Your Anger

"Anger will eventually prevent us from striving towards any goal, even if it may temporarily help us succeed."

Basketball fans are certainly no stranger to Michael Jordan, and he once expressed the role of anger in his professional career during his Hall of Fame induction ceremony. Jordan believes that anger is not a powerful fuel; rather, it is the reason he has no peace of mind. Anger is not the secret to his six NBA championships; it is only a poison that prevents him from ever enjoying any of his achievements.


Initially, Jordan simply loved the confidence that basketball brought him. But after entering the league, he was too eager to fight back against the media's doubts about him. The excessive desire to win ultimately overwhelmed him. This also led to him discovering one year that he had lost his passion for basketball, so after leading the Bulls to a three-peat, he announced his retirement. It wasn't until a year and a half later that he rediscovered his original love for basketball, and his passion for the sport reignited. Finally, he led the Bulls to another three-peat, becoming the "Basketball God" in everyone's hearts.

This is why we must choose to drive out anger and replace it with Love, Gratitude, and Purpose. When we slow down to think, choose to ignore others' offenses against us, and not hold grudges over arguments or retaliation, we can transform anger into love, which is the source of our motivation and allows us to make true "progress."

Chapter: Build a Routine

"Turn The Ordinary Into The Sacred."


Establishing a good routine not only brings a great sense of comfort but is also a way to tap into one's potential and enrich work.

One simple advantage of establishing a routine is that you can automate many things, so you don't have to think about them anymore. This also means you can free up more space for your thoughts to settle, walk, and think. This is why it can tap into one's potential.

Moreover, in daily life, you should more actively answer these questions in your mind: "What should I do first? Why should I do it? What should I do after? Which problem should I solve first?" Focus more on yourself, improve your insight into life, because if you don't control time, time will control you.


From my perspective, these views also guide us to become wiser individuals. And life wisdom is directly proportional to training results, both physically and mentally.

So how do we achieve the best training results?

First, don't get caught up in training outcomes. Excessive focus on results brings tension and stress, clouding the mind and ultimately leading to declining performance.

Second, don't let desire overwhelm self-confidence. There is no need to prove anything to anyone; enjoying the process is enough. Just imagine, if excellence cannot make us happy and satisfied, how excellent is it?

Third, seize the present moment. There is a sequence to learning, and each profession has its specialization, but time is equal for everyone; we all only have 24 hours. The key is how to make the most of it.

"Stay steady, act with composure when the world spins around you. Stay calm, listen only to what needs to be heard."

This concludes the book review of "Stillness is the key." Do you like this book?


About Us:

This series aims to provide an in-depth, easy-to-understand interpretation of various books related to health, exercise science, and sports psychology, helping you embark on a healthier, more scientific fitness journey.

DAILYCALI, which means "Making Calisthenics a Daily Routine," has been dedicated to incorporating exercise science into bodyweight training since its establishment in 2021, reducing the risk of sports injuries and systematically improving training results. We offer diverse courses covering calisthenics, myofascial release, stretching, etc., and provide bilingual instruction in Chinese and English, as well as flexible class schedules including personal training, group classes, and workshops.

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