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Stillness Is the Key

Written by: Ryan Holiday
Narrated by: Ryan Holiday
Length: 6 hrs and 56 mins
4.7 out of 5 stars (384 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Instant number one New York Times best seller and Wall Street Journal best seller

In The Obstacle Is the Way and Ego Is the Enemy, best-selling author Ryan Holiday made ancient wisdom wildly popular with a new generation of leaders in sports, politics, and technology. In his new book, Stillness Is the Key, Holiday draws on timeless Stoic and Buddhist philosophy to show why slowing down is the secret weapon for those charging ahead.

All great leaders, thinkers, artists, athletes, and visionaries share one indelible quality. It enables them to conquer their tempers. To avoid distraction and discover great insights. To achieve happiness and do the right thing. Ryan Holiday calls it stillness - to be steady while the world spins around you. In this audiobook, he outlines a path for achieving this ancient, but urgently necessary way of living. Drawing on a wide range of history's greatest thinkers, from Confucius to Seneca, Marcus Aurelius to Thich Nhat Hanh, John Stuart Mill to Nietzsche, he argues that stillness is not mere inactivity, but the doorway to self-mastery, discipline, and focus.

Holiday also examines figures who exemplified the power of stillness: baseball player Sadaharu Oh, whose study of Zen made him the greatest home run hitter of all time; Winston Churchill, who in balancing his busy public life with time spent laying bricks and painting at his Chartwell estate managed to save the world from annihilation in the process; Fred Rogers, who taught generations of children to see what was invisible to the eye; Anne Frank, whose journaling and love of nature guided her through unimaginable adversity. More than ever, people are overwhelmed. They face obstacles and egos and competition. Stillness Is the Key offers a simple but inspiring antidote to the stress of 24/7 news and social media. The stillness that we all seek is the path to meaning, contentment, and excellence in a world that needs more of it than ever. 

©2019 Ryan Holiday (P)2019 Penguin Audio

What the critics say

"In this age of manufactured outrage and constant distraction, the ability to choose a focused inner stillness is arguably more important than ever before. Ryan Holiday’s book revives ancient wisdom that calls for a quiet life in a noisy and restless world." (Mark Manson, number one best-selling author of The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck)

"The next Malcolm Gladwell. Ryan Holiday's just brilliant." (Lance Armstrong)

"Whether you are an athlete, an investor, a writer or an entrepreneur, this little but wise and soulful book will open the door to a healthier, less anxious and more productive life and career." (Arianna Huffington)

What listeners say about Stillness Is the Key

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

More of the same

I’ve read Ego & Obstacle and really enjoyed them. This book was more or less the same. Short chapters, historical figure study, common sense philosophy lessons. Ryan is a poor reader and really doesn’t do his writings any justice with a monotone, uninteresting voice and cadence. Found myself counting down on this book anxiously awaiting jumping over to my next book. Some good lessons here, but if you’ve already read his other books, it’s just more of the same.

2 people found this helpful

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Best book I’ve ever listened to

After having an audible account for years and listening to thousands of books, this one stands alone as my favourite. If other books are a 10; this one must then be a 20. Someday I would love to travel from my home in the Ottawa Valley and travel to Texas to shake Ryan’s hand. I am a better man today for having listened to this and by more importantly taking the time to be still. Cory

2 people found this helpful

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A great read!

Another very helpful book on my minimalst journey. Lots of wonderful stories, references and ideas. A practical book for anyone looking to simplify and bring more meaning to their lives.

2 people found this helpful

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Really enjoyed this book

I like how Ryan writes, it's easy to get through! When I hit the last chapter I was honestly sad it was over. Some great lessons within. Disciplined in your discipline, moderate in your moderation. Love it!

1 person found this helpful

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Was ok to begin with...

Performance is boring and monotone, some of the stories were ok until the... Religious blah blah blah? Save your money, move along.

2 people found this helpful

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Just listen and grow!

Well researched, succinct and impactful. Filled with knowledge that can be actioned which ultimately leads only to growth, progress and hopefully, wisdom. A wonderful book to read on a walk or even a sit in your backyard or even better, barefoot amongst nature.

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Another great book by Ryan

I loved this book. I will have to read this again. Stillness is the key

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A painful but eye opening read.

I've enjoyed Ryan's books thus far, and this one is definitely a little less light hearted than his previous ones. Though I imagine that Ego and Obstacle were easing us into this more painful and eye opening process. Thank you again Ryan Holiday. I will be starting from the beginning upon hitting submit on this review.

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Great content, pacing and tone issues

Ryan Holiday is full of great wisdom and stoic ideals. I enjoy him in podcasts because he is naturally brilliant and conversational in his tone. This though, feels very specifically like Ryan is trying to teach me a lesson. His habit of ending all the important heavy points at the end of a paragraph in a very similar pacing got tiring. dum-Dah-dum-Dah-dum-DAH-DUM! Maybe his previous success has made him realize how poignant and valuable his words can be to others and in the writing, or at least the audiobook, it seems like he’s taking himself seriously in a way that brought the book down a little bit. Big fan, still enjoyed it but I felt talked down to because of how didactic it was.

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Great Insight

This book contains common sense insights, with historical references to illustrate the points being made. The author’s voice is very easy to listen to. It really makes you wonder why we do what we do, sometimes.

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  • Lisa M. Marshall
  • 2019-10-22

Wisdom Doesn't Change

For anyone who dislikes history or philosophy, try this book. Its message isn't new, but has been around for 2,000 years. Holiday manages to establish an elegant nexus between the wisdom of the stoics and the challenges of the noisy, frenetic, time in which we live. Stillness is necesary now more than ever. I prefer listening to the author's voice and not the voice of a narrator. Holiday's cadence is his own; the cadence is lovely and would be lost with someone else reading his words. I hope this is not Holday's last book and that he continues to share with us his insights.

31 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 2019-10-22

Be still and listen

Fresh off of my first listen and I can attest it’s worth the money and time. I rarely, if ever, listen to an audiobook from start to finish in one day but I could not stop listening to this one. I love how the author weaves interesting historical stories in and out of the teachings in this book. And calls back to them over multiple chapters. It builds the book as a real-life reference to how stillness can/should be used.

14 people found this helpful

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  • Lilianni D.
  • 2019-10-25

Very similar to the other books of him

This is not a waist of time you will learn and enjoy it, the only thing is that is somehow repetitive about the stories and teaching of the other books of him (Ego is the enemy and the obstacle is the way)

12 people found this helpful

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  • JB
  • 2019-10-01

A framework for a balanced life.

Ryan Holiday is one of my favorite writers, and same for many of my friends and clients. All entrepreneurs or creators that strive to maximize what they're able to accomplish in our short time on this world. But what's beyond just the maximization of efficiency? What about the maximization of wellbeing? The mental health side of our VC/startup/side hustle culture is often overshadowed or entirely ignored. What if we applied the same strategic thinking that we apply to our work, to our wellbeing? Ryan is asking the questions here that are more valuable than perhaps anything you'll pull off a self help aisle. Because as I've seen time and time again, with my clients and even personally, it doesn't matter how successful you may appear to be socially or financially - no more money or fame can replace the feeling of intentional inner stillness in your life. Until you can hold ownership over your inner world, the anxiety, and stress, you are owned by the outside world. Please Ryan, keep writing and fighting the good fight, you inspire me brother.

23 people found this helpful

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  • Kat Shalhoub
  • 2019-12-31

Great content stilted by performance

Great content that was unfortunately detracted From by the voice of the narrator and the performance. I had to force myself to keep listening despite being so irritated by it. I recommend you read this book instead.

8 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 2019-11-01

so much yes

I've been struggling to find a framework to pull myself out of a rut. As an atheist, a lot of advice or guidance comes from various religious texts, which just don't jive for me. But this book probably gave me exactly what I needed, and a new path of self exploration through study of stoicism and philosophy. well done book and a good narration.

13 people found this helpful

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  • Mark
  • 2019-10-04

Supremely Satisfying Synthesis!

I'm a long time Holiday fan but who cares? Urge your friends to read this one first. WOW. Gentle synthesis of the commonalities of so many philosophies and primary religions. it's as though the spirit of the universe is right here and inside a still river runs deep. Guided by Epictetus, Seneca, Buddha and Aurelius, we see Woods, Merton, Jordan, Cherney, Huffington, Lincoln, Kennedy... Stillness is indeed the key. Yes, I'm excited to write this review, but in so doing my centered, grounded, deliberate sentiments are delivered in gratitude. Quiet. Still.

19 people found this helpful

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  • LoveLosAngeles
  • 2019-10-23

I can’t handle the narration

Author/narrator’s speaking cadence is annoying and it sounds like he’s wearing a retainer. You have to be in the mood to listen to a long history story after story.

36 people found this helpful

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  • Corey A Liepelt
  • 2019-10-23

Good book, bad narration

With very few exceptions, authors should not narrate their own audiobooks. Ryan Holiday is an accomplished author who is interesting to listen to when interviewed, but he is not a professional voiceover. Although I enjoyed the content of this book, listening to Holiday read it with awkward breaks between words and phrases was a challenge that ultimately detracted from my enjoyment.

36 people found this helpful

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 2019-10-08

Needs to be read by a professional voice talent

I was excited to get this title, but quickly disappointed. The author, who undoubtedly is talented at writing, decided that he's also a professional voice talent. He is not. The pace and cadence, along with his tone, made it unlistenable. Within a half hour I knew I wouldn't be able to listen to the rest, and returned the title. Will have to get the book and do it the old fashioned way.

56 people found this helpful

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  • Vincent Karaboulad
  • 2019-10-30

An inspiring read...

Despite an annoying transition music and an overly judgmental stance on interpersonal relationships. Also, it’s a shame the book ended on an advertisement section, Memento Mori would have been great last words.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Client d'Amazon
  • 2020-02-22

Thank you Ryan !

So well written. We need this message more than ever ! It has guided me and will guide my life to the path of stillness.