Matt Emerzian knows what it’s like to struggle. His dreams of being a millionaire and retiring by the time he was 40 were overturned by sudden, crippling anxiety and depression. During his recovery he created Every Monday Matters, a not-for-profit organization to help people understand why and how much they matter. His latest book, “You Matter: Learning to Love Who You Really Are”, launched February 11. On a phone call from his home in Los Angeles, California, he spoke with us about his hopes for “You Matter”. This interview has been edited and condensed.
Parvati Magazine: You’ve been extremely honest about your experience with anxiety and how it led to an “aha” moment and Every Monday Matters. Did you have a similar “aha” moment that inspired you to write “You Matter”?
Matt Emerzian: Well, my first book, “Every Monday Matters: 52 Ways to Make a Difference” came out over 10 years ago, and then I got busy building and managing the not-for-profit organization, Every Monday Matters. I didn’t intend to write another book, but there were plenty of people who believed I had another one in me.
After second-guessing myself and procrastinating, I finally realized I was overcomplicating things. It turned out that the new book was meant to be a more personal account of what I’ve been living in my life and sharing in my keynote speeches over the past ten years. In the end, I actually wrote two new books. The first is a completely new version of “Every Monday Matters: How to Kick Your Week Off with Passion, Purpose, and Positivity” that came out last year. The second is “You Matter”.
Parvati Magazine: “You Matter” is more personal than “Every Monday Matters”; tell us more about that focus.
Matt Emerzian: The reason why we [at Every Monday Matters] do our work is that we want people to know how much they matter. This new book allows me to tell a story with meaning and to really help connect to people’s hearts in a very personal way. It’s not my intention to ever come off as an expert, but as though I’m one of you. Here’s my story, and I hope it helps you.
I wanted to be honest as a man about my struggle with mental health issues, and give people a safe place to share what they’re experiencing. My therapist always says, “Our secrets are our sickness.” This book is an offer for others to release their secrets and their shame, put in the work and start to heal.
The Interconnection of “You Matter”
Parvati Magazine: The structure of the book is in three parts: “I Matter”, “You Matter”, “We Matter”. Tell us more about how these three interconnect for you.
Matt Emerzian: The book takes readers on a journey of understanding these three perspectives, through personal stories and anecdotes from friends and family. And at the end of every chapter I offer things like action steps, journal prompts, and conversation starters.
A really profound thing happened for me when I wrote this book. Originally, I saw the three perspectives as concentric circles. In the middle was a small circle for “I Matter”. The larger circle around it represented “You Matter”, and so on. And I saw the actions I take as having a positive ripple outward. However, now I visualize them as three circles of the same size, overlapping in a Venn diagram sort of way. Here, instead of “I Matter” being the ripple, any of the circles can impact the others. And where all three overlap in the middle is the place where we are truly alive and at our best as human beings.
I actually struggle with the concept of “self-help” books. Because of our inherent interconnection, I think they should be categorized in a section called “Being Human” instead. We don’t all live on our own private islands, in isolation from everyone else. We have to consider the entire social fabric and accept that our choices have consequences. There are too many people out in the world who don’t understand that their actions, their thoughts, their beliefs, all matter. And when enough of us operate based on the thought that we don’t matter, we end up with situations like the environmental problems that we have today. Cigarette butts are everywhere, the polar ice cap is melting, single use plastics are flooding our oceans… these are the result of bad choices by good people who don’t realize they matter.
Parvati Magazine: What’s your greatest hope for readers of “You Matter”?
Matt Emerzian: My hope is that you will realize you can change your life. Out of eight billion people in the world there’s only one of you. By definition, you are extremely rare and special. You matter and things can get better—for you, your community, and the planet.
“I don’t believe the environment is a scientific issue. I think it is a human one. We take, the planet gives. Then we take some more, and the planet keeps giving. But at some point, much like Shel Silverstein’s book, “The Giving Tree”, we will only be left with a stump. So when are we going to stop taking? When is enough enough?
MAPS is working to protect our Arctic Ocean. Besides supporting their efforts, what will you do? Yes, your choices and your actions matter… because you matter. So, like MAPS, choose love and choose to be on the right side of history.”
Matthew Emerzian is the founder and CEO of Every Monday Matters (EMM), a not-for-profit organization committed to creating a new normal where individuals and organizations understand how much and why they matter. He is the author of the bestselling “Every Monday Matters” and “You Matter”.
Other books to check out this month:
Adrian Gostick & Chester Elton, “Leading with Gratitude” (Harper Business―March 3, 2020):
Gratitude is the underused superpower of engagement in the workplace. Elton and Gostick offer practical suggestions to leverage this simple tool “Getting people together and thanking them actually changed the work environment. They would work harder and smarter because I was recognizing the things that mattered the most to them.” — Adrian Gostick
Madeleine L’Engle, “The Moment of Tenderness” (Grand Central Publishing—April 21, 2020):
A personal and genre-bending posthumous collection of short stories and scenes by the beloved author of “A Wrinkle in Time”. “L’Engle’s stories are softly tragic with sparkles of hope and a sincere faith, told in a simple and earnest voice.” — Booklist
Noé Alvarez, “Spirit Run: A 6,000-Mile Marathon Through North America’s Stolen Land” (Catapult—March 13, 2020):
The true story of how a second-generation Mexican immigrant dropped out of college to join four months of “Peace and Dignity Journey” treks, an Indigenous spiritual movement for cultural connection, from Canada to Guatemala. “This book is not like any other out there. You will see this country in a fresh way, and you might see aspects of your own soul. A beautiful run.” — Luis Alberto Urrea, author of “The House of Broken Angels”
Rebecca Solnit, “Recollections of My Nonexistence: A Memoir” (Viking—March 10, 2020):
Renowned essayist and critic Rebecca Solnit shares her own journey to finding her voice. “This powerful memoir reveals how Solnit’s coming-of-age as a journalist and a woman in 1980s San Francisco shaped her as a writer and a feminist. She grapples with sexual harassment, poverty, trauma, and women’s exclusion from the cultural conversation, while discovering punk rock and the LGBTQ+ community as safe havens. Her words have long empowered people who feel voiceless, and her latest book is no exception.” — Good Housekeeping