[EconTalk] Ryan Holiday on Stillness Is the Key

Ryan Holiday on Stillness Is the Key

07/10/2019 by EconTalk: Russ Roberts

Web player: https://podplayer.net/?id=83242848
Episode: http://files.libertyfund.org/econtalk/y2019/Holidaystillness.mp3

Ryan Holiday talks about his latest book, Stillness Is the Key, with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Holiday explores how stillness–the cultivation of serenity and focus–can affect how we live and how we perceive life. Topics discussed include the performance artist Marina Abramovic, Winnie the Pooh, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and Michael Jordan’s Hall of Fame induction speech. Holiday also explains how he keeps track of information and how his system makes it easier for him to write his books.

Listen Date: 2020-01-20 to 2020-01-21


  • Unusually for EconTalk, this was more a ‘What I Do’ episode rather than a ‘What I Know’ episode. Or maybe it just felt that way because the ‘What I Do’ parts hit my confirmation bias much more than the ‘What I Know parts.’ More on that later.
  • “So, we’re addicted to–I don’t want to say it’s a quick fix, but even an addict would tell you, like, there are these moments they have experienced in sobriety that are far better than any of the highs they ever had while they were, you know, chasing drugs or alcohol. But, even if, you know, getting high on heroin is a 7 and having the beautiful moment with your child is a 10, the truth is you can shoot up heroin any time you want.” – seemed on point.
  • “I would imagine that this same openness and vulnerability and presence that it takes to be moved to tears by a flower or to experience the deliciousness of a sunrise or the sort of natural sounds of a stream running over rocks, that’s a vulnerable place to live. Or to be, even for a few fleeting seconds. And so, maybe it’s that, as much as we like those moments, we are intimidated by or scared by the potential weakness or vulnerability that we are putting ourselves in.” – I wasn’t as convinced by this.
  • TIL: Zen in the Art of Archery
  • People listen to EconTalk at 1.5x! I can’t go beyond 1.2x. And the discussion made me feel very good about having gone back to 1x since the previous episode.
  • Ryan Holiday is only 32 and has written ten books. My god. What a machine.
  • I had a frisson of envy seeing that he lets himself block only three things on his daily calendar. I, of course, don’t block anything, but that’s more my failing to use a calendar than because I don’t have anything to do. Maybe this three-a-day will help me prioritise better.
  • The discussion on routine – I realised after my 2018 mental health diagnosis that routine was going to be essential to maintain my equanimity. This discussion offered a lot of reinforcement on that.
  • Wincing a bit at Ryan Holiday saying that he does his journaling before he interacts with technology; because I’m completely failing to do that – maybe I need to set a different slot for my habit tracking.
  • I was feeling smug that this very blog sort of mimics what Ryan Holiday is doing with his index cards, until he came up with “Of course Evernote is not the same, it has to be handwritten!” But then some entries I do handwrite out before I fire up the WordPress editor.
  • But his talking about his anxiety about the note-taking getting out of hand, or how he also dreads really good books a little because of how much note taking they’ll generate – I feel it.
  • Russ Roberts’ ‘Things I’ve Cut’ seems like an interesting idea to adopt.
  • I did not know until this episode about Michael Jordan’s Hall of Fame Induction Speech. Oof.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s