Timing is everything, especially when it comes to discovering books that really shift your perspective. Luckily, “Stillness” has done just that for me… Helping me zoom out to see the forest through the trees.

Ryan has done it again! Whittling down the thoughts and behaviors from a wide variety of inspirational characters into simple, but meaningful lessons we all should frequently consider.

I won’t bore you with reviewing or summarizing the entire book, but they’re a few snippets that smacked me in the face, so they’re worth sharing.


== boOK QUOTE == 
“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.”

Journaling is a major practice I’ve reignited in my life thanks to “Stillness”…

Most of what I write when journaling is incomprehensible to other humans, but for me, it’s the process of dumping my brain onto a piece of paper that’s the real benefit. This process of taking abstract fluffy thoughts and turning them into concrete words has been a truly helpful process. The more I journal, the more I realize how useful this practice is when times get rough… The beauty lies in forcing myself to think through what subconscious thoughts I’m having and testing to see if they’re helpful – If they’re actually “me” or someone that’s hijacked my mind without me knowing it was happening. In addition to questioning my thoughts, I’ve found that watching them evolve over time (e.g. days, weeks, and months) has shown glimpses into how my mind works, which is extremely helpful.

Comfort Creep

== boOK QUOTE == 
Before the Civil War, Ulysses S. Grant experienced a long chain of setbacks and financial difficulties (more here). He washed up in St. Louis, selling firewood for a living—a hard fall for a graduate of West Point. An army buddy found him and was aghast. “Great God, Grant, what are you doing?” he asked. Grant’s answer was simple: “I am solving the problem of poverty.” That’s the answer of a confident person, a person at peace even in difficulty. Grant wouldn’t have chosen this situation, but he wasn’t going to let it affect his sense of self. Besides, he was too busy trying to fix it where he could. Why hate himself for working for a living? What was shameful about that?
== boOK QUOTE == 
There is also what we can term “comfort creep.” We get so used to a certain level of convenience and luxury that it becomes almost inconceivable that we used to live without it. As wealth grows, so does our sense of “normal.” But just a few years ago we were fine without this bounty. We had no problem eating ramen or squeezing into a small apartment. But now that we have more, our mind begins to lie to us. You need this. Be anxious that you might lose it. Protect it. Don’t share.

I love these two quotes so hard!

I’ve not really internalized these concepts until very recently (e.g. last 4+ months). It’s so easy to get caught up in the lives we live and the comfort we create, quickly forgetting that we were happy with much less… I carry my old Taco Bell badge (4 years of dedicated taco wrapping!) with me, placing it at my office desk in clear sight… This is for many reasons, but this section within “Stillness” sums it up perfectly…

Once I truly understood that I need very little to be happy I was hit with an overwhelming wave of emotions. This basket of emotions slowly formed into a single feeling of pure freedom, freedom from the life I felt I needed to live and the false identity I built for myself when working up the “ladder”. The moral of the story – Always remind yourself that there is no “back” or “down” in a career, but a “problem” needing to be solved.

The E-word

== boOK QUOTE == 
Standing in the palatial second home of some boring billionaire, Vonnegut began to needle his friend. “Joe,” he said, “how does it feel that our host only yesterday may have made more money than your novel has earned in its entire history?” “I’ve got something he can never have,” Heller replied. “And what on earth could that be?” Vonnegut asked. “The knowledge that I’ve got enough.” Earl Woods called that the e-word, like it was an expletive. In truth, enough is a beautiful thing.

“Enough” is a beautifully complex world that I’m still trying to wrap my head around. “Enough” comes in many shapes and sizes, such as enough achievements, work, stuff, goals, ambitions, hate, love, etc… Pulling out the e-word not only on others but on myself has proven to be very difficult and this is thanks to my surroundings being so focused on “MORE!”. The society we live in today idealizes those with “more”, so how does one step back and say “Yeah, I think that’s enough for now”?


== boOK QUOTE == 
Routine, done for long enough and done sincerely enough, becomes more than routine. It becomes ritual—it becomes sanctified and holy.

If you spoke with anyone close to me about my habits, you’ll quickly discover that I’m a massive creature of habit. I love the way Ryan words the above statement because I personally associate my rituals with almost religious experiences that bring me a sense of bliss/calm. I have too many strange rituals to share them all, so here are two that pop to mind…

  1. Reading and stretching simultaneously first thing in the morning every Thursday and Friday
  2. Eating the same food, in the same way (e.g. the order I eat each part of the meal) every single day

Dying well


== boOK QUOTE ==
The denial of this simple, humbling reality—the denial of death—is why we attempt to build monuments to our own greatness, it’s why we worry and argue so much, why we chase pleasure and money and cannot be still while we are alive. It’s ironic that we spend so much of our precious time on earth either impotently fighting death or futilely attempting to ignore the thought of it. It was Cicero who said that to study philosophy is to learn how to die. Most of this book has been about how to live well. But in so doing, it is also about how to die well. Because they are the same thing. Death is where the three domains we have studied in these pages come together.

What a way to end this book… It’s one of those endings where you step back in a weird foggy haze and say “WOW”. Learning how to die well is a concept I’ll be pondering for a while and maybe it’s something you’ll want to ponder as well…

If you’re not convinced or don’t really feel like reading the whole book at least go check out the Daily Stoic YouTube channel… They’ve done a great job sharing short video clips about certain ideas covered throughout the book.