How To Live Book Summary By Judith Valente

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The acclaimed book How to Live (2018) offers readers an insightful look into the powerful teachings of St.

Benedict and how his rule for living can help us navigate the struggles of the modern world.

From cultivating silence to principles on better leadership, learn how The Rule of St.

Benedict empowers us to make wiser decisions each day.

Take a new approach towards life as you explore what it means to create a lifestyle based on wisdom and inner peace.

Readers are sure to appreciate this thought-provoking work as Mark Hart shows them how they can lead more fulfilling lives.

How To Live Book

Book Name: How to Live (What the Rule of St. Benedict Teaches Us About Happiness, Meaning, and Community)

Author(s): Judith Valente

Rating: 4.5/5

Reading Time: 23 Minutes

Categories: Mindfulness & Happiness

Author Bio

Judith Valente is an incredibly accomplished writer with an impressive professional background.

She is the award-winning author of many books, including How to Live, as well as The Art of Pausing: Meditations for the Overworked and Overwhelmed.

Her work has been featured in publications as prestigious as the Wall Street Journal and Washington Post, and she has also appeared on television and radio broadcasts.

Not only that, but Judith has even given speeches and retreats about living a meaningful life and the power of poetry.

It’s no surprise then that her works have been incredibly well-received; if you’re looking for wisdom on how to lead a fulfilling life, look no further than Judith Valente!

Unlock The Ancient Wisdom Of St. Benedict: The Powerful Life Lessons From A 6Th Century Monastery

Ancient Wisdom

The Rule of St.

Benedict is a sixth-century rulebook on living well.

It’s collected in 73 chapters, and many of its lessons are just as relevant today as when it was written in the midst of heightening tensions between Rome, religion, and foreigners.

In this ancient document lies the secrets on how to build a harmonious community and live peacefully even during times of distress.

Uncover the secrets to fostering good communication, achieving work-life balance and connecting with spirituality that are presented in this time-tested book.

Learn what sci-fi movie Arrival can teach us about peaceful communication and how a haiku can act like a prayer session through the teachings of St.


Immerse yourself in the knowledge from over 1,500 years ago that still carries through today so you too can learn how to make your life more meaningful.

The Power Of Listening To Others: How St. Benedict’S Art Of Unconditional Listening Can Create Lasting Communities


Benedict understood that in order for a community to flourish and grow, it was essential that people take the time to actively listen to each other.

He knew that by listening deeply, we can better understand one another and build stronger relationships.

To further this goal, he placed an emphasis on the importance of “listening with the ear of the heart”- which is about being truly present and receptive when someone is speaking.

In order for us to live fulfilling lives, it’s important that we keep this key message from St.

Benedict in mind- True understanding can only happen when we really take the time to listen and be openminded about others’ points of view.

As seen in movies like Arrival, things often stay tense until somebody takes a step back and begins to really listen to their opposition before they come away with a newfound understanding.

The author of How To Live also reflects on her own experience and how it taught her a valuable lesson – even if someone might not agree with what you’re saying or feel confident in expressing themselves amongst certain people or environments, if you truly listen with an open heart and nonjudgmentally hear them out, things will have a tendency to resolve themselves as opposed to becoming more unruly while trying rely on one voice over another’s.

Accept Death And Embrace Life To Live To The Fullest

If you want to truly live life to the fullest, then you need to start by awakening yourself to your surroundings and coming to terms with the fact that death is inevitable.

This is the key message from Reverend Osage Benedict’s book, The Rule – and one that she emphasises throughout its pages.

The author found it transformative when visiting the Abbey of Gethsemani in Kentucky and being present for first prayers at 3:15 a.m.

A magical sight surrounded her as the sky was filled with millions of stars, while a deep silence soothed her soul.

Benedict believes that embracing these moments of stillness helps us wake up our senses and subsequently our hearts.

Not running away from death but acknowledging its presence should aid you on your journey of embracing life too.

During a visit to Mount St Scholastica in Kansas, the author experienced an elderly nun named Sister Lillian who lived until 96 despite not being afraid of it – perhaps because her life was full enough up until that point!

St. Benedict Embraces Silence And Humility As The Key To Peaceful Living

Peaceful Living

Living peacefully requires the practice of both silence and humility.


Benedict understood the importance of keeping a peaceful heart and mind, and he wrote about it in great detail in his book, The Rule.

He warned people against speaking ill of others or grumbling, indicating that biting your tongue is an important part of learning how to live peacefully.

Silence isn’t just about being quiet; it’s also about calming your mind by getting away from distractions and taking a break from the world and its noise.

Humility is another tool to help you live peacefully.

This doesn’t mean that you should never be bold or uncompromising; instead, it means learning the patience and love needed to understand others despite their flaws.


Benedict outlined twelve steps to accomplish this goal, which include learning when not to talk and asking for patience when needed.

Through silence and humility, we can all learn how to better respect one another so that we can become peaceful members of our communities.

The Value Of Work And The Power Of Prayer: Taking A Moment To Appreciate Life’S Simple Pleasures

Benedict has always stressed the importance of staying humble, having a deep inner life and other valuable tools when trying to achieve a balanced life.

One of those tools is prayer.

It’s not only religious in nature; it can even be something as simple as taking a few moments to press pause on your day and observe your surroundings.

Another tool would be poetry–specifically haiku poetry.

This type of poetry only consists of three lines: five syllables for the first line, seven syllables for the second line, and five syllables again for the third line.

What better way to take a moment and appreciate the world around you?

Both prayer and poetry have their purpose; they help us stay grounded during hectic or stressful days.

It’s no surprise that these same principles found in Benedict’s teachings are very much in accordance with these mindful practices – if we can find balance using them, we may find ourselves able to handle more throughout our daily lives.

The Value Of Being Forgiving And Hospitable According To St

Forgiveness and hospitality are essential components of living in peace.

We often find ourselves struggling to forgive people who have hurt us, but this can lead to heavy emotional baggage that is difficult to carry for long.


Benedict, the founder of the Benedictine Order, believed that forgiveness and hospitality were the keys to peaceful living.

The author of ‘How to Live’ found out this truth the hard way.

When her brother accused her of trying to take advantage of her parents’ money after they passed away, she felt betrayed and lashed out in anger.

She now knows that emotional understanding, patience, and empathy could have brought them closer together rather than pushing him away.

Benedict’s message is clear: We should not be vengeful or misguided with those who hurt us, instead we should try our best extend grace and offer hospitality even when it may be undeserved.

The Benedictine monasteries in America exemplify this principle by sponsoring refugees families and helping people from all backgrounds regardless of their beliefs.

Living peacefully does not mean shying away from conflict but rather finding ways to navigate through difficult disagreements with empathy and understanding for all parties involved.

Forgiveness and hospitality should be seen as steps towards reconciliation rather than offering a way out of confrontation; by recognizing this we can cultivate a more peaceful society for everyone.

The Key To Lasting Leadership: Understanding The Balance Between Strength And Compassion

Lasting Leadership

Benedict’s Rule offers useful insights not just on how to address our flaws, but also how to become better leaders.

This is especially true given the key message: that it is ultimately our actions and work that will be remembered.

The Rule provides advice on how to make the right choice and lead with humility.

Bob Dylan’s grandmother famously said, “Everyone you’ll ever meet is fighting a hard battle,” and Benedict seemed to understand this as well.

We all struggle in different ways and it’s easy for these difficulties to take control of us if we’re not careful.

Benedict urges us to recognize our faults as soon as possible so that they do not gain power over us.

This is an important lesson for today’s leaders, who must remember that their role is a service one and not a dictatorial one.

With this in mind, decisions should always come from open dialogue so that the community can properly benefit from them.

Leading by example, advocating for those in need – these are aspects of leadership that should never be forgotten and this wisdom has been passed down through The Rule.

We Must Live With Awe, Neglect Nothing, And Care For Our Precious Earth

The key message that Piers Sellers learned by seeing our planet from space is that we must take nothing for granted and remember to always live with a sense of awe.

When we look at the world around us, it isn’t ours to own—we are merely borrowing it.

We have a responsibility to care for the Earth’s resources, be they in the form of our homes, relationships, bodies, rivers, or forests.

In addition to living simpler lives, with less disposable goods and fewer unnecessary purchases, we must also strive towards living in harmony with nature.

When one part of the community is disrupted or affected negatively, it has an impact on all aspects of life.

As Benedict pointed out in Chapter 31 of The Rule: we must look upon all utensils and goods as sacred vessels that are vital to the health and balanceof our entire planet.

Living in this way allows for expression through storytelling and poetry about not only the beauty of darkness but also sublime moments unearthed within mundane moments.

Awe can be found everywhere if we just remember to neglect nothing and open ourselves up to new possibilities.

The Balance Of Ora Et Labora: Finding Meaning In Work Through Contemplation And Action

Meaning In Work

When it comes to meaningful work, having love for the world and combining action with contemplation is essential.

This idea is echoed in the works of great historical figures such as Aristotle and Plato, who both discussed how work stands in the way of true thought.

The author experienced this same issue—she could not find a way to fulfill her duties through work but also have time for a more thoughtful life.

Despite advancement in her journalism career which included awards and accolades, she still felt something was missing.

It’s important to remember that meaningful work must be part of a life of service that honors the things given to you and embodies respect.

The Rule, famously known by its Benedictine motto “ora et labora” (“pray and work”), promotes this balance with equal amounts of contemplation and effort.

As an example, author William Carlos Williams kept his contemplative nature and love for the world alive while working full-time as a private practice doctor with his famous phrase “I take my poems where I find them,” jotting down ideas on his prescription pad between seeing patients.

This shows us the importance of finding that balance between too much thinking and being solely focused onwork.

Finally, what The Rule offers us isn’t perfectionism or infallible advice on living a holy life—it simply provides guidelines towards a better way to live; one embodied in Benedict’s notion of conversatio morum or “conversion of life,” an ongoing struggle that never truly ends.

Wrap Up

The Rule of St.

Benedict has stood the test of time, and its wisdom is still relevant even in this modern age.

The key message within these sections is that there needs to be a balance between work, rest and contemplation in order to have a peaceful life.

On top of this, it stresses the need for us to listen from the heart and leave our ego at the door when engaging with other people.

Finally, St.

Benedict encourages us to embrace his concept of conversatio as a way to live more virtuously.

This involves reflecting on how we can turn away from bad habits and towards positive change – something which will help us make progress in our lives.

At its core, The Rule of St.

Benedict provides valuable advice that when applied leads to living with more purposeful meaning.

Arturo Miller

Hi, I am Arturo Miller, the Chief Editor of this blog. I'm a passionate reader, learner and blogger. Motivated by the desire to help others reach their fullest potential, I draw from my own experiences and insights to curate blogs.

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