Life of Meaning

3 Essential Needs of the Soul

January 15, 2022 by Charlie Hedges − 0 Comments

The human soul… simply wants to be witnessed — to be seen, heard, and companioned exactly as it is.” Parker Palmer

It was more than two decades ago that a therapist explained to me about what he understood as 3 fundamental human needs: to be heard, to be cared for, and to be accepted (by someone or some thing significant).
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Resolutions Worth Pondering

January 3, 2022 by Charlie Hedges − 2 Comments

“… if Montaigne was right — he was — that philosophy is the art of learning to die, then living wisely is the art of learning how you will wish to have lived. A kind of resolution in reverse.” Maria Popova

I am a huge fan of the writings and wisdom of Maria Popova in her brilliant book reviews and commentaries found in Brainpickings, (renamed the Marginalian upon its 15th birthday in 2021).

Maria began her post in 2006 by writing weekly book reviews and commentaries for seven friends. The audience has since expanded to 1.2 million reader per month. Yikes!

Yesterday I received the New Year’s edition of her weekly post only to discover 10 wise suggestions to consider for engaging in a year of depth and wonder. I found her ideas so remarkable that I wish to share them with you.

I hope this may incent you to check Maria’s writings at The Marginalian.


  1. HANNAH ARENDT: Love Without Fear of Loss
  2. TONI MORRISON: Cherish Your Body
  3. VIKTOR FRANKL: Have More Music and Nature in Your Life
  4. LEO TOLSTOY: Choose Kindness
  5. JAMES BALDWIN: Have Tenderness for How Hard It Is to be Human
  6. RACHEL CARSON: Embrace the Loneliness of Creative Work
  7. URSULA K. LE GUIN: Converse If You Care
  8. SENECA: Vanquish Your Anxiety
  9. BERTRAND RUSSELL: Broaden Your Life as It Grows Shorter
  10. WALT WHITMAN: Live with Absolute Aliveness

If I were forced to narrow my list to only three, I would choose Hannah Arendt, Leo Tolstoy, and Seneca.

Perhaps you might want to ponder these suggestions briefly and then… Tell me, which three strike you the most. I’d love to hear.

Photo courtesy of nortonrsx at istockphoto


Patience: Shiny Objects and Shiny Thoughts

December 26, 2021 by Charlie Hedges − 2 Comments

A person who is a master of patience is master of everything else.” George Savile

You can become anything you want to be.” Or, “You deserve it.” These two phrases are common in American culture. They reflect our overhyped need for “new and improved.” The result: Shiny New Objects—a never-ending pursuit of something new to own or even something new to think.
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Wellbeing, Kindness, and Love

December 18, 2021 by Charlie Hedges − 0 Comments

“Human beings want much more in life than not to be miserable. They want wellbeing.” Dr Martin Seligman

For the first time in nearly five years of blogging, I have failed to send a blog post for two consecutive weeks (except for a time or two when I was out of the country). It’s not that I haven’t attempted to write. It’s because my mind feels overwhelmed by so many sources of unwanted stimuli like Covid and masks and communal/personal safety and a myriad of other stuff.
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“If Stillness is the Key, Action is the Door.”

November 20, 2021 by Charlie Hedges − 0 Comments

Most of us would be seized with fear if our bodies went numb, and would do everything possible to avoid it, yet we take no interest at all in the numbing of our souls. —EPICTETUS” ― Ryan Holiday, Stillness is the Key

Of the three books in Ryan Holiday’s trilogy of Stoic insights my favorite is the final book, Stillness is the Key. Although Ego is the Enemy and The Obstacle is the Way both offer brilliant insights, I believe the fullest life begins with intentional daily alone time, where stillness and contemplation are king.
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You are an Influence: Intentionally or Not

October 23, 2021 by Charlie Hedges − 0 Comments

You don’t have to be a ‘person of influence’ to be influential. In fact, the most influential people in my life are probably not even aware of the things they’ve taught me.” Scott Adams

At this very moment I am attending a leadership conference with GLN (Global Leadership Network). Only a couple hours ago, the president of the organization, Tom De Vries, said that perhaps the key attribute to great leaders was found in their ability to “influence” others.
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Do Nothing… and Then Rest

October 16, 2021 by Charlie Hedges − 0 Comments

How beautiful it is to do nothing, and then rest afterward.” Spanish Proverb

Pam and I recently returned from holiday in Spain. The proverb above is Spain, so famous for afternoon siestas. In my opinion, this practice betrays an age-old yet very sophisticated understanding of the richness of a life that is not focused on work. For many Spaniards work is something “you do,” not someone “you are.”
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Intimately Detached

September 29, 2021 by Charlie Hedges − 0 Comments

I still feel no distress, since I am unbruised by the present and unconcerned about the future.”  Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

The more widely I read and travel internationally the more convinced I am of the “wisdom of the ages.”
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A Life Impacting Choice: Contemplate Life

September 18, 2021 by Charlie Hedges − 0 Comments

“… the meaning of life is found in every moment of living…” Viktor Frankl

For years I have written about how much I believe that “life is largely a choice.” We can’t always choose our circumstances (although often we can), but we can choose how we respond to our circumstances. Viktor Frankl wrote his most famous book on this subject, Man’s Search for Meaning, based on the lessons he learned from Nazi concentration camps during the holocaust.

Choice Considered

It is written: “Frankl concludes that the meaning of life is found in every moment of living; life never ceases to have meaning, even in suffering and death.” In my mind, to arrive at such a conclusion begins with “deep thought” and with “a mind predisposed toward goodness.” Both of which are a choice.

Who controls your mind? You or others. The default option is to allow others and our past to determine the value of life, while the progressive action is to make personal decisions to do so.

Let me discuss this a bit…

Choice Defined

Let’s get one thing clear to begin with: I fully believe that your life can be both fulfilled and immensely meaningful. If I didn’t detest the word “success” I would be tempted to say, “Yes. You can enjoy a successful life. (Only if success is defined on deeply personal convictions and by the elimination of disquieting voices—both internal and external.)

Regrettably, fulfillment, what I consider to be life’s ultimate accomplishment, comes only as the result of making a choice to unlearn the restrictive narratives we have been told most of our life, unhelpful habits which lead to distraction from essential goodness, and our seemingly insatiable need for power, prestige, and possessions.

As I have written a few times in the past, each day we are faced with two necessary opportunities and choices: (1) to live fully in the present with joy, paying attention and responding to life as it occurs, and (2) to know that whatever we do today is an adventure into Life 101: Lessons for the me (or the wine) I will become tomorrow.

Making “Choice” a Habit

Habits, disciplines, and rituals are customary with all of us, but how many of these are intentionally practiced to lead us to greater understanding of ourselves and the world we live in?

In the last couple of years especially I have come to the conclusion that I, personally, cannot reap the everyday (as well as future) value of my life without contemplation and a bit of journaling. I have learned that I must have regular times set aside for these two essential activities and rare is the day I miss them.

A Choice to Become

As I read the history of deep thinkers and people who make a difference with their lives, I find similar habits: one thing that I find extant in all these people: setting aside time to think (and usually to write—even briefly).

When Contemplation

Becomes Essential for Life

Photo courtesy of fizkes at istockphoto

Love is in the Details

September 4, 2021 by Charlie Hedges − 0 Comments

Life is in the details. If you generalize, it doesn’t resonate.” Jacqueline Woodson

I went to a funeral. After a small handful of inspirational speakers presented, a younger man made his way to the front and spoke words from the heart of wisdom. In a very comfortable everyday manner of speech, he prompted us all, several times, not to neglect the “details” of love.

Love is a Verb

As I stood there contemplating his potent words I was reminded of the oft-used phrase, “love is a verb.” Love is an action word, not a concept nor a theology.

And since it is a verb, it is best defined by the adverbs, nouns, or pronouns that follow. Love is best described by the actions it takes and the responses these actions generate. Too often these actions of love go unrecognized if we are not careful to pay attention with the right kinds of eyes and ears.

Unrecognized “Details”

My current coach sends me a book a couple times each month. Unfortunately, too frequently I fail to see the love that she sends with each gift. A friend called yesterday to ask about the source of a quote I used on a blog. When I told him it was unattributed because I was the writer of the quote, he was shocked. “You wrote that??!!” “Haha,” I chanted, “tis true.” What a gift of love.

“Details” That Last

Almost twenty years ago, I was coaching a 12-year-old baseball team at a “Father’s Day” baseball tournament in our area. I jokingly asked the boys, “So… what did you guys get me for Father’s Day (all the while knowing full well they brought nothing).” That was when 12-year-old Joe Musgrove (now a pitcher for the San Diego Padres) piped up, “We’re gonna win you a championship, Coach!” And they did. What a very huge gift of love. Winning only added to the joy of the young Joe Musgrove’s words of love to a coach.

Tis a day I shall take with me to the “Pearly Gates.”

Love is Not

A Nice Theory

Photo courtesy of yacobchuk at istockphoto



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