9 Ways to Find Stillness in Turbulent Times

Everyone from the Stoics to the Buddhists knew the importance of this essential virtue

Ryan Holiday
Published in
6 min readSep 14, 2020


Young Black woman writing in her journal.
Photo: The Good Brigade/Getty Images

Perhaps it takes something as tumultuous as our current world to clarify what that word stillness means. When we hear it, we know the importance of it, intuitively and instinctively: The quiet. The gratitude. The ability to step back and reflect. Being steady while everything spins around you. Acting without frenzy. Hearing only what needs to be heard.

As Rome was being scourged by plague and war, the emperor and Stoic philosopher Marcus Aurelius wrote about being “like the rock that the waves keep crashing over,” the one that “stands unmoved and the raging of the sea falls still around it.”

Yes. We know we want more of that. But how do we get there?

Thankfully, there are thousands of years of teachings that will help you keep steady, focused, and at peace. Stillness has been the secret weapon of the Stoics and the Buddhists, the Christians, the followers of Confucius, Epicurus, and so many others.

I detail many of the proven exercises for finding more stillness in my book Stillness Is the Key, but here are 10 I adapted specifically for the times we currently find ourselves in.

Stop watching the news

The number one thing to filter out if you want more equanimity in your life? The news! The Greek philosopher Epictetus had it right when he said: “You become what you give your attention to.”

Being informed is important, but watching every live report, reading every breaking news tweet, checking your news apps 28 times a day is not how we get there. Fueling your own anxiety doesn’t help anyone when there’s so much to do.

Read books

Sometimes, when I want to feel a little bit better, I look at the stack of books I have managed to get through since the pandemic began and feel a fondness for the hours I spent in those pages.

I also know I am better off for what I learned from them. In 1942, Dorothy Day, the Catholic journalist and social activist, wrote in her diary: “Put away your daily paper… and spend time reading.” She meant books. Read…



Ryan Holiday
Writer for

Bestselling author of ‘Conspiracy,’ ‘Ego is the Enemy’ & ‘The Obstacle Is The Way’ http://amzn.to/24qKRWR