Manvotional: The Majesty of Calmness

by Brett & Kate McKay on August 11, 2012 · 87 comments

in Manvotionals

“The Majesty of Calmness”
From Self Control, Its Kingship and Majesty, 1905
By William George JordanCalmness is the rarest quality in human life. It is the poise of a great nature, in harmony with itself and its ideals. It is the moral atmosphere of a life self-reliant and self-controlled. Calmness is singleness of purpose, absolute confidence, and conscious power—ready to be focused in an instant to meet any crisis.The Sphinx is not a true type of calmness—petrifaction is not calmness; it is death, the silencing of all the energies; while no one lives his life more fully, more intensely and more consciously than the man who is calm.

The Fatalist is not calm. He is the coward slave of his environment, hopelessly surrendering to his present condition, recklessly indifferent to his future. He accepts his life as a rudderless ship, drifting on the ocean of time. He has no compass, no chart, no known port to which he is sailing. His self-confessed inferiority to all nature is shown in his existence of constant surrender. It is not—calmness.

The man who is calm has his course in life clearly marked on his chart. His hand is ever on the helm. Storm, fog, night, tempest, danger, hidden reefs— he is ever prepared and ready for them. He is made calm and serene by the realization that in these crises of his voyage he needs a clear mind and a cool head; that he has naught to do but to do each day the best he can by the light he has; that he will never flinch nor falter for a moment; that, though he may have to tack and leave his course for a time, he will never drift, he will get back into the true channel, he will keep ever headed toward his harbor. When he will reach it, how he will reach it matters not to him. He rests in calmness, knowing he has done his best. If his best seem to be overthrown or over-ruled, then he must still bow his head—in calmness. To no man is permitted to know the future of his life, the finality. God commits to man ever only new beginnings, new wisdom, and new days to use to the best of his knowledge.

Calmness comes ever from within. It is the peace and restfulness of the depths of our nature. The fury of storm and of wind agitate only the surface of the sea; they can penetrate only two or three hundred feet—below that is the calm, unruffled deep. To be ready for the great crises of life we must learn serenity in our daily living. Calmness is the crown of self-control.

When the worries and cares of the day fret you, and begin to wear upon you, and you chafe under the friction—be calm. Stop, rest for a moment, and let calmness and peace assert themselves. If you let these irritating outside influences get the better of you, you are confessing your inferiority to them, by permitting them to dominate you. Study the disturbing elements, each by itself, bring all the will-power of your nature to bear upon them, and you will find that they will, one by one, melt into nothingness, like vapors fading before the sun. The glow of calmness that will then pervade your mind, the tingling sensation of an inflow of new strength, may be to you the beginning of the revelation of the supreme calmness that is possible for you. Then, in some great hour of your life, when you stand face to face with some awful trial, when the structure of your ambition and life-work crumbles in a moment, you will be brave. You can then fold your arms calmly, look out undismayed and undaunted upon the ashes of your hope, upon the wreck of what you have faithfully built, and with brave heart and unfaltering voice you may say: “So let it be—I will build again.”

When the tongue of malice and slander, the persecution of inferiority, tempts you for just a moment to retaliate, when for an instant you forget yourself so far as to hunger for revenge—be calm. When the grey heron is pursued by its enemy, the eagle, it does not run to escape; it remains calm, takes a dignified stand, and waits quietly, facing the enemy unmoved. With the terrific force with which the eagle makes its attack, the boasted king of birds is often impaled and run through on the quiet, lance-like bill of the heron. The means that man takes to kill another’s character becomes suicide of his own

When man has developed the spirit of Calmness until it becomes so absolutely part of him that his very presence radiates it, he has made great progress in life. Calmness cannot be acquired of itself and by itself; it must come as the culmination of a series of virtues. What the world needs and what individuals need is a higher standard of living, a great realizing sense of the privilege and dignity of life, a higher and nobler conception of individuality.

With this great sense of calmness permeating an individual, man becomes able to retire more into himself, away from the noise, the confusion and strife of the world, which come to his ears only as faint, far-off rumblings, or as the tumult of the life of a city heard only as a buzzing hum by the man in a balloon.

The man who is calm does not selfishly isolate himself from the world, for he is intensely interested in all that concerns the welfare of humanity. His calmness is but a Holy of Holies into which he can retire from the world to get strength to live in the world. He realizes that the full glory of individuality, the crowning of his self-control is—the majesty of calmness

Enjoy this Manvotional? Check out even more in our beautifully illustrated book, The Art of Manliness Manvotionals: Timeless Wisdom & Advice on Living the 7 Manly Virtues.

{ 87 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jeremy August 11, 2012 at 10:20 pm

That was excellent. Thank you.

2 David August 11, 2012 at 10:58 pm

Beautiful. Thanks so much for finding gems like this and sharing them. Never doubt that you’ve made a difference!

3 Ken F. August 11, 2012 at 11:02 pm

Quite possibly the best Manvotional yet, Brett. And surely one of the greatest pieces of literature I have ever read in my life. Thank you.

4 Richard August 11, 2012 at 11:04 pm

Wonderfully written, stirring stuff. Like Kipling’s ‘If’ without the dodgy gambling references.

5 John Rodgers August 11, 2012 at 11:27 pm

This came at a perfect time in my life. Thank you for a wonderful message.

6 Ctp August 11, 2012 at 11:47 pm

This is perfect. It echoes wonderfully of Kipling’s “If”. Thanks.

7 Artur August 11, 2012 at 11:59 pm

Amazing!! Just what I needed to read….

8 j August 12, 2012 at 12:01 am

“Be still, and know that I am God.”

9 Connor August 12, 2012 at 12:12 am

I must echo these other guys. This is a wonderful Manvotional. It is exactly what I needed to read this evening. Thank you for this one Brett & Kate. David said it right in that you should never doubt that you’ve made a difference.

10 Jerry August 12, 2012 at 1:26 am


11 Daman August 12, 2012 at 1:30 am

Wow – very well written. Superb, and the standard you set here is already high. Great image selection too, btw :-)

12 Chris August 12, 2012 at 1:58 am


13 Soumendra August 12, 2012 at 4:33 am

“So let it be—I will build again.” Well, only a calm man can say that as he is not ruled by his emotions and not afraid to take one step at a time. Thanks for the excellent Manovational, Brett.

14 Britaliano August 12, 2012 at 4:42 am

Calmness is a stand out trait. It is easy to mistake for aloofness.

At work I usually try to use the following when people around me are freaking out.

1) Calm Down
2) Shut up

Not necessarily in that order.

Then remove anything unnecessary from the process such as who is to blame, how can we get out of this?

Calmness, especially under pressure, comes from confidence that you can deal with anything. I rate it as one of my good characteristics.

15 Jonathan August 12, 2012 at 4:47 am

Great Stuff…!
This reminds me of the last chapter of James Allen’s “As a Man Thinketh”, entitled “Serenity”…
” A man becomes calm in the measure that he understands himself as a thought-evolved being, for such
knowledge necessitates the understanding of others as the result of thought, and as he develops a right
understanding, and sees more and more clearly the internal relations of things by the action of cause and effect,
he ceases to fuss and fume and worry and grieve, and remains poised, steadfast, serene.”

16 Eviano August 12, 2012 at 5:50 am

Remarkable piece.Reminds me of Phileas Fogg in Verne’s ‘Around the world in 80 days’.

17 Chris Reynolds August 12, 2012 at 7:23 am

I agree with Richard, that made me think of Kiplings ‘If’ also….great post, something to give our sons.

18 Patrick August 12, 2012 at 7:33 am

I feel like calmness takes a lifetime to master. Every time I make an attempt at such things, I find myself knocked back down again. I hope one day I’ll be the man described in this piece. Thanks, Brett.

19 Greg August 12, 2012 at 8:26 am

Wow. This is so very applicable in virtually every area of life. Thanks for sharing this AoM.

20 Steve August 12, 2012 at 8:31 am

Bravo sir, bravo

21 Jordan W. August 12, 2012 at 8:35 am

This article is amazing. It has made my day, and reminded me to keep going. Thank you.

22 Gerhard August 12, 2012 at 9:47 am

Five stars!

23 Mohan August 12, 2012 at 11:38 am

Growing up in a dysfunctional home, I had a very nervous father show me by example and words the exact opposite of manliness.

I am having difficulty getting to that place of calm; but this article certainly defines to me what it involves. Thanks for sharing!

24 Michael DesJardins August 12, 2012 at 11:57 am

For all those who fret and whinge at the thought of future pursuits, bear in mind that emotion can be a damning presence and take one from the most important as well as the most mundane matters and render ones spirit torn. Grace under pressure allows that we may always do what we must, no matter how unpleasant the task.

Thank you for finding this and giving attribution; very helpful.

25 Doc August 12, 2012 at 12:12 pm

Just thought I would mention that so many of these books that excerpts are taken from are on-line. The entire books are well worth reading and most are relevant even in todays world.

26 Chris August 12, 2012 at 12:51 pm

Quality reading. Would be a good one to print out and keep on hand when things are getting nutty. Thank you.

27 levelworm August 12, 2012 at 12:57 pm

This is very impressing, and one of the few gems that I’d like to devote my life and time to obtain. But how? I’ll borrow that book for a look.

28 Paul August 12, 2012 at 2:15 pm

Inspiring words, just the sort of thing I needed today. Thanks as always for the inspiration.

29 Mike August 12, 2012 at 2:56 pm

Not an easy thing to come by, but certainly one worth striving toward. Excellent post.

30 travis August 12, 2012 at 3:58 pm

i needed that encouragement!

31 Mr. McCabe August 12, 2012 at 4:57 pm

Absolutely beautiful.

32 Paolo August 12, 2012 at 6:09 pm

Good, intelligent. Truly a privilege to read so a great article. Thank you very much.

33 Novembertwentyeleven August 12, 2012 at 9:28 pm

Thank you for the article.

Britalino: “…Then remove anything unnecessary from the process such as who is to blame,”

So true. I find that the usual staff will constantly try to pin the blame on someone, and are gleeful when they realize they are not to blame this time. They also waste a lot of time constantly talking about who was to blame, and not on finding the solution.

34 Paul August 12, 2012 at 9:41 pm

This was the best manvotional yet. It inspired me to read the entire piece, which is just fantastic. I plan on referring to it often.

35 George August 12, 2012 at 11:00 pm

Beautiful. A great devotional thought in this world of chaos. What a great spiritual fruit to have!

36 Sean August 13, 2012 at 1:47 am

I have to say this is simply inspirational. Staying calm at all times is easy to tell someone but difficult to practice. I think I have to re-evaluate this. Thank you

37 Barbara Jensen August 13, 2012 at 2:13 am

Calmness is the fruit of Faith and Trust in the living Christ Who is the Source and Center of true calmness. The serenity of surrender to Him in all things is calmness.

38 Ralmon August 13, 2012 at 2:54 am

Beautiful! Great manvotional. Sounds like what Buddhist would say. Also sounds like the teachings of Tao. Maybe we should do some meditating too?

“The Fatalist is not calm. He is the coward slave of his environment, hopelessly surrendering to his present condition, recklessly indifferent to his future.”

This sounds like the exact opposite of the other manvotional “The Old man and the Sea” by Hemingway. Well I don’t like “The Old Man and the Sea” anyway. What do you think?

39 Bowen August 13, 2012 at 3:40 am

Calmness is confidence! This article is beautiful.

40 J. Delancy August 13, 2012 at 8:10 am

The theme of this is beautiful but the richness and quality of the vocabulary used is so rare in today’s writing. The words capture and illuminate the prevailing sentiment so wonderfully, its awe inspiring.

41 Jordan August 13, 2012 at 8:22 am

Great piece. Thank you for sharing

42 Tonia August 13, 2012 at 8:53 am

This describes my husband! I have never know anyone like this before. You’ve helped me understand what it is and how much to appreciate his/my awesome gift…Thank you!

43 Martin August 13, 2012 at 9:35 am

Thank you. This was a valuable read for me.

44 Chad August 13, 2012 at 9:58 am


45 Will August 13, 2012 at 10:01 am

This is exactly what I needed today. Thank you.

46 Teancum August 13, 2012 at 10:08 am


47 Russ August 13, 2012 at 11:19 am

Wonderful read–and just what I needed today. I’m going to check out your book, too…

48 Dave Cossey August 13, 2012 at 12:49 pm

Excellent. An apt piece of writing for a crazy panic-filled generation of people. Calmness is there if we want to have it, and I believe that true and everlasting calmness is found in knowing who God truly is.

49 Neal Howland August 13, 2012 at 1:02 pm

I had listened to this book on my cell phone using an app that has thousands of free books to listen to. Fantastic listen/read if you’re the self help type, very useful information, especially to young men.

50 Thomas Barker August 13, 2012 at 1:04 pm

You are making the world a better place. Thank you and well done.

51 Paolo August 13, 2012 at 2:12 pm

I can’t leave out a detail that the majesty of calmness applies mostly to St. Joseph, in the vigil of the Assumption.
If I was a Frenchman I’ll say, “C’est une question de savoir – not connaître! – lequel est le plus eloquent du jour ou de la nuit. Le jour est magnifique, mais la nuit est si solennelle! Le jour éclaire pour nous la terre, la nuit nous découvre les cieux. Ces pensées nous viennent à propos de saint Joseph. On le voit, cet home est dans la nuit. Sa vie est pour le monde une nuit obscure, veritable, mais comme l’est la nuit, profonde, majestueuse et religieusement émouvante. Cette impression, lorsqu’on aborde intérieurement saint Joseph, est celle don’t on a coutume d’être saisi à l’entrée d’un sanctuaire. Un sanctuaire, c’est la paix, c’est le silence, c’est une certaine obscuritè qui fait rentrer l’esprit en lui-même. C’est un lieu grave, profound et doux qui commande et inspire le respect, qui incline à l’humilitè, fait oublier le monde et donne un avant-gôut du ciel.
I think these Jordan’s thoughts could inspire us the same wisdom. Contemplation, in fact, is said to be a foretaste of heavenly beatitude, “rest in God”, that we get, in our earthly life, living the majesty of calmness, as did St. Joseph, halleluiah!

52 Ryan Leestma August 13, 2012 at 3:34 pm

Can you please tell me who painted the image above? Name of painting and artist please? Awesome article. Fantastic. I’m buying the painting and hanging it in my office, when I start getting excited I will look at it.

Thank you,


53 Erick Sandoval August 13, 2012 at 3:54 pm

This is by far one of my favorite pieces you have found and posted… Thank you so very much for this one.

54 Brett McKay August 13, 2012 at 5:18 pm


The painting is “Canoe in the Rapids” by Winslow Homer.

55 Lucas August 13, 2012 at 10:03 pm

I needed this. Brilliant find. Thank you very much for posting.

56 Ranferi Pereznegron August 13, 2012 at 10:04 pm

Another GREAT piece, job well done.

57 Michael August 13, 2012 at 10:42 pm

Yes. Calmness. I loved this post and that artwork is a great choice – rough waters all around and stay calm and paddle away.
i love your site and when asked, it is in my top ten sites to visit. For what it is worth I have nominated you for the very inspiring blogger award.
It is okay for a man to inspire others right?
- Michael

58 King August 13, 2012 at 10:59 pm

Calmness is the conscious you retained when others are losing theirs.
It is more than awareness but more of total alertness at any moment of the day.

I always found myself be the calm mind when everyone around me lost theirs.

But when in non-group scenario, I find myself losing my calmness. :D

59 LTB August 14, 2012 at 3:25 am

A superb read and an even greater guideline and ethos to live by. Thank you for sharing and for being in the position to positively teach and help mold minds.

Congrats to Mike Eckrote, a solid young man and recent h.s. grad. He began his college academic and football career yesterday at Southern Conn. and has found a true connection with the AOM daily readings. Good luck to Mike throughout the next 4 years!

60 Gussie August 14, 2012 at 7:04 am

Excellent. I look back with regret at the times I let emotion disgracefully overwhelm my actions.

61 Matthew August 14, 2012 at 3:43 pm

If I may, gentlemen, read this book. It’s so good, and available for free online here, as among other places I’m sure:

Thanks, Brett, for sharing.

62 RagTagRebel August 14, 2012 at 3:44 pm

This post describes what i always thought what it meant to be meek. It’s not being a pushover, but being able to take strikes, blows, and insults without anger, resentment, and without backing down from your course.

I think this is a very manly trait, and men try to become this calm/meek instinctively. Maybe that’s why all those frat “hazings”, beer pong contests, and hot sauce/ spicy competitions are so common with young men. They always respect the guy who can stay the most calm and composed during these things. Maybe they instinctively long to test themselves and their peers to become more calm in the face of serious adversities or pain. Maybe they won’t like much of man is they can’t stay so calm and composed…

63 Gerardo August 17, 2012 at 8:08 pm

Wonderful thoughts, this is the principle of oriental meditation.It is wonderful to read it from occidental authors. beautiful piece of writing.

64 J.James August 20, 2012 at 8:25 am

Thank you for this. I now read this every day as part of my morning routine.

65 Ford August 20, 2012 at 12:07 pm

Fantastic essay … and the timing of my reading it could not have been more perfect. Thank you.

66 Matt August 20, 2012 at 6:33 pm

A new use of the phrase “standard of living” for me. Very insightful.

67 Ara Bedrossian August 21, 2012 at 1:49 pm

Stay calm, carry on. Emotion is a valuable servant, but a terrible master.

68 Survival Gear Guru August 23, 2012 at 6:58 pm

Moving through life with calmness, or what I like to call relaxed awareness, will help you actually enjoy and recognize the full worth of your daily life. It will also keep you in the present moment when you most need to, like during a crisis. I consider it to be one of the most important survival skills.

Paradoxically, even though it is a great survival skill, remaining calm will allow you to live your life by design, rather than merely “surviving” it.

69 Jeff August 23, 2012 at 8:20 pm

What helps to calm me is a simple phrase that usually puts a vexing situation into perspective. Just remember, someday, we’re all going to die.

70 Jack Lowe August 25, 2012 at 10:35 am

Thank you — I enjoyed this.

Particularly like ‘Jeff’s’ comment too:

“…Just remember, someday, we’re all going to die.”

71 Morgan August 29, 2012 at 10:48 am

Thank you! I needed that one! Greetings from Norway.

72 Lmil September 1, 2012 at 9:29 pm

Thanx..I especially appreciate the power of the heron’s bill to take down this awesome eagle..I could never have imagined…also that a man’s attack could bring his own downfall. Twenty years ago i was forced undeservedly from my home by my ex..persecuted relentlessly..yet during that time of upheaval..I prayed only that god would give me peace of mind…honestly! I reckoned that pom along with good health were more valuable than all the material losses. Losing my son was tough..but what can one do? As it turned out, the trials made me stronger. Gave me the impetus to grow as a man and move forward to greater rewards. Yeah i was a basket case in many ways..but calmness became my cornerstone. The keeper of this journal told it exactly as it came to be in my case

73 Brian A. Bocchicchio September 2, 2012 at 9:17 pm

The best Manvotional yet! I have this posted in my office. Many thanks and kudos to you for providing this and such a fantastic site.

74 Lmil September 3, 2012 at 10:47 am

I’d like to add: during this trouble, I never lost my head during any proceedings with the cops, judges, lawyers, etc.. in fact, just the opposite! Praise was given for keeping cool. Toward the end free legal help was given to conclude this mess, and yrs later I gained full custody on my own. Boy was her lawyer pissed that i went to court pro se and accomplished that feat! It takes courage and inner strength to hold your own, but with calmness of heart, you will prevail

75 Travis Spires September 21, 2012 at 9:50 am

What a great way to start my day.

76 Wag September 21, 2012 at 12:05 pm

When I first saw this subscription come through my e-mail, I knew I needed to read it. I never forgot about it, the headline was so compelling: “The Majesty of Calmness.” Wow. How could anyone forget this?

Regrettably, I only just finally got to it today and feel that I’ve missed out on six weeks worth of progress. Amazingly, I think it may have been more apropos for me now than then.

Brett, I can’t thank you enough for this.

I found myself described to a “T” as The Fatalist. While it sometimes serves me with my relationships with people that I don’t freak out easily under normal circumstances, still, I find that I have no direction in life yet. The rest of the article pushes me.

I needed this. Thank you.


77 Emiola October 14, 2012 at 12:37 pm

What. A. Read!
This will literally change the course of my life! Thank you!

78 Niraj October 20, 2012 at 7:26 am

Thank you for this amazing article! :)

79 Augustin October 27, 2012 at 2:57 pm

Thanks to whoever posted this. I managed to download “The Majaesty of Calmness” for free (legally) and it’s really helped me through these tough times. I recommend it to all.

80 Simon November 6, 2012 at 5:19 pm

William George Jordan is fantastic. Every man should read and live by the “Majesty of Calmness”… The world would be a much better place. Keep up the good work!!!

81 Steve November 20, 2012 at 12:22 pm

Great words of wisdom regarding calmness. Who did the terrific watercolor of the canoe?

82 Lee Coates January 27, 2013 at 5:51 am

Immensely uplifting and very relative to my current situation. Thanks for the great post!

83 Steve D. May 5, 2013 at 10:51 am

An excelent piece. Like “j” and “barbara jensen” before me, the Good Book sums it all in those eight words; “Be still and know that I am God”.

As fine as this piece is, it always amuses me to notice that Man uses thousands of words that the Lord says in eight! Ha!

84 Jim D. August 11, 2013 at 10:16 pm

The world just changed. Did you feel it? Well done, AOM, well done.

85 Dori December 8, 2013 at 11:34 am

I have often been described as a calm person…so calm. And I agree. Because I am human, momentarily, I may react with other emotions, but Calmness is now my default setting. For that, I am grateful

86 George December 11, 2013 at 2:11 am

Very inspiring, AOM
Making better men

87 Lisa April 12, 2014 at 9:07 am

Found this to be so refreshing! Agree that calmness, patience is a rare beauty, and admirable.

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