- Guantánamo’s Darkest Secret
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His new book, Stillness Is the Key , is coming out October 1st.
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The Buddhist word for it was upekkha. The Muslims spoke of aslama. The Hebrews, hishtavut. The Epicureans, ataraxia. The Christians, aequanimitas. In English: stillness. To be steady while the world spins around you. To act without frenzy. To hear only what needs to be heard. To possess quietude—exterior and interior—on command. Stillness is that quiet moment when inspiration hits you. We all need stillness, but those of us charging ahead with big plans and big dreams need it most of all. There are, in fact, concrete and actionable ways to bring it into your life.
You have to put in the work.
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You have to follow the guidance of the masters. For many years, I have been a student of, and writer about, Stoicism , an ancient philosophy popular in the Roman Empire. As a result, here are 28 proven exercises from across all the wisdom of the ancient world that will help you keep steady, disciplined, focused, at peace, and able to access your full capabilities at any time, in any place, despite any distraction and every difficulty. These steps will work… if you work them. One of her best and most insightful lines must have come on a particularly difficult day.
Guantánamo’s Darkest Secret
I start the day with stillness by pouring out what is not still into my journal. The point is just to do it. Marcus Aurelius , who is supposedly this dark, depressive Stoic, seems to have seen beauty everywhere. While other people are oblivious to or overwhelmed by what surrounds them, we want to practice really seeing. Try to notice the little things. Observe that interaction with your parents like you were a stand-up comedian looking for material.
An artist must be present. An artist must notice. An artist is still. Manage Your Inputs. As a general, Napoleon instructed his secretary to wait three weeks before opening any mail or correspondence. He wanted to see what would handle itself. One way I do this is with email filters. If I see an email is not urgent or not from a trusted source, I put it in a folder and sit on it I like to reply on airplanes, without Wi-Fi, weeks or months later.
Another way to do this is through gatekeepers. Having an assistant or an agent or a chief of staff means that trivial things have a harder time getting to you.
So that with stillness, you can give what matters your full attention. Take Walks. Nikola Tesla discovered the rotating magnetic field, one of the most important scientific discoveries of all time, on a walk through a city park in Budapest in When he lived in Paris, Ernest Hemingway would take long walks along the quais whenever he was stuck in his writing and needed to clarify his thinking.
Detach From Outcomes. Archery master Awa Kenzo spent little time teaching his students how to deliberately aim and shoot. What Kenzo wanted students to do was to put the thought of hitting the target out of their minds. He wanted them to detach even from the idea of an outcome. You must focus only on the page in front of you. You must learn how to let go and let the process take over. Stop Watching The News.
The number one thing to filter out if you want more equanimity in your life? The news!
Being informed is important… watching the news in real time is not how you get there. Ask Questions. As in, do I need this? If I get what I want, what will actually change? Why do I care what they think?
1,426 responses to “Why I Walked Out on Tony Robbins”
What am I working on in myself today? Will this matter in five years? What if I did nothing? Questions like these help us calm the anxieties in our head and help us slow down—allowing room for stillness. Read Books. Big, smart, wonderful books. Books are a way to get stillness on demand. Put Your Phone Away.
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Remember, your phone is designed for one thing: to make you want to use it. And the apps on your phone have the same motivation too. I turn off all alerts and notifications. Get Rid Of Stuff. The petty man is servant to things. The less you have, the less you have to be worked up about. The less you are precious about, the less that can be taken from you by swings of fate or bad luck. Seek Solitude.
Solitude allows you to reflect while others are reacting. I like to do my thinking while running and swimming and taking walks—and many of my book ideas have come from these activities. Randall Stutman, who for decades has been the behind-the-scenes advisor for many of the biggest CEOs and leaders on Wall Street, once studied how several hundred senior executives of major corporations recharged in their downtime.
The answers were things like swimming, sailing, long-distance cycling, listening quietly to classical music, scuba diving, riding motorcycles, and fly fishing. All these activities, he noticed, had one thing in common: an absence of voices. To be original, you have to spend time alone. To have peace, you need solitude too. Slow Down — Look Deeper. It is in Stoicism and Buddhism and countless other schools that we find the same analogy: The world is like muddy water.
To see through it, we have to let things settle. Enjoy the Small Pleasures.
You know, Epicurus was not a glutton or a depraved maniac. On the contrary, he advocated that we enjoy the simple pleasures. There is a letter from Epicurus asking one of his rich supporters and friends for a gift. He asked for a small pot of cheese. If you can teach yourself to be grateful for and enjoy the ordinary pleasures, you will be happier than just about everyone. A bowl of cereal.
A good sunset. A nice conversation with friends.