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How to Start Each Week With Passion, Purpose, and Positivity

It’s no secret that in this day and age, people are hurting. Not a day goes by that I am not reminded that things are off and that we, humanity, are all feeling it deeply. I see it in the headlines: “Millennials and Gen Zer’s are now the Loneliest Generation Ever.” “The Number of Children Going to the ER with Suicidal Thoughts, Attempts Doubles.” “300 Million People Around the World Suffer from Depression.” I hear it in conversations with students, educators, employees, CEOs, friends, and family members. I thumb through it on social media. It keeps me up at night. It breaks my heart. It makes me want to do more.

With racism rampant, sexism abundant, and our morals and values spinning out of control faster than ever before, it’s no wonder we’re left feeling the effects. From what I can tell, our current state has left millions of us feeling disconnected, disoriented, disenchanted, depressed, and many times, even worse.

As someone who suffered from severe anxiety and depression, I now understand what it means to feel so deeply. Until my first big breakdown, life was good. Sure, I had bad days. Everything in my life and the world around me wasn’t always perfect, but I mostly lived a positive, upbeat, hope-filled life. In my naiveté, I thought that was how everyone lived. If I ever heard someone complain or say they were blue or stressed out or anxious, the voice inside my head said, “Get over it.”

Not today. Through my brokenness, I gained a new understanding of what it means to be human. I have suffered through the dark deep-end of the emotional spectrum that most of us don’t like to think or talk about. I have felt the despair, the hopelessness, the helplessness that so many others are facing today. Fortunately, I was able to work through it. I had the resources to get help. With the support of others, I was able to make it to the other side, and today, my story has become an inspiration for millions of people. My breakdown has become a blessing. And now, I am on a mission in life to help as many people as I can know how much and why they matter.

That is why I wrote my book. That is why I founded our not-for-profit organization, Every Monday Matters. Because I know that there are millions of people out there that look great on the outside but are dying on the inside, just as I was. I know that the American Dream has a dark side to it. And, I know that we can change it—one action, one day, one week at a time—through authenticity, connection, and community. By remembering that we matter and showing others that they do, too.

Here are a few examples from new book, Every Monday Matters – How to Kick Your Week Off with Passion, Purpose, and Positivity that I hope help you get started on your road to healing and happiness:

Prioritize People

We are designed to be in relationship. Isolation is now considered more harmful to our health than heart disease. Yet, in our age of social media and technology, combined with our wounds and scars that have created fears and insecurities, we have slowly disconnected ourselves from one another. We all need meaningful relationships to help navigate this thing called “Life,” yet we are not so great at creating or maintaining them. Commit changing that. You need it and so does everyone else around you.

Live Authentically

Anxiety and depression are often called, “The Nice Person’s Disease.” Meaning we are so concerned about pleasing everyone else that we slowly disconnect from our truth and true needs. We all want people to like us, but we can’t jeopardize our authentic self in the process. People will always judge, even when you living your truth, so start doing that today. You, and the world, need YOU, with every imperfection, every freckle, every nuance. You are one in nearly eight billion—which makes you pretty special. Own it.

Play More

No one ever said that getting older means getting more serious and, dare I say, boring. Life is meant to be fun too. Joy matters. Laughter matters. So bring out that kid spirit inside of you. We all have it; it just might be a little rusty these days. Pick up the phone and ask someone if they can play today. I know you have uttered those exact words hundreds of times before. Go play… you need it. We all do.

Share a Secret

Because I have traveled the country for the past ten years sharing my personal story of breakdown and recreating my life, it’s as if I opened a door for people to walk into to share their struggles with me. Often times, that conversation begins with, “I have never shared this with anyone, but I…” If you are struggling, even just a little bit, please share it with someone you trust. If you are really concerned, then please get professional help. There is nothing wrong with getting a life coach to help you process. Don’t be afraid, embarrassed, or concerned about what people will think. Our secrets are our sickness… until we share them. Please share yours.

Connect to Community

One day my therapist told me that she wanted me to learn what it meant to live a life that wasn’t about me. I didn’t fully understand her idea, since I was the one sitting in her office struggling so severely with anxiety and depression. But she made me commit to doing something every week that I wasn’t about myself. I picked up litter, fed homeless people, painted over graffiti, read to elderly. Being of service to others completely changed my life. It’s where I found myself. It’s where I believe all of us are at our best and healthiest. So, go serve. Go be a blessing to someone or something. Get out of your head, your life, your story, and go impact something bigger than yourself. I promise it will change everything for you.

Together, we can change the way we feel. We can also change the headlines. It takes work. It takes courage. But I know, from personal experience, it’s possible. Changing your life—and the world—starts with you.

You matter.

Matthew Emerzian is an Author, Speaker, and the CEO/Founder of Every Monday Matters, a non-profit dedicated to helping people and organizations understand how much and why they matter. Matthew’s latest book was released in January 2019 titled, “Every Monday Matters: How to Kick Your Week Off with Passion, Purpose, and Positivity.” Matthew’s latest book takes readers on a 52-week journey with actionable steps to reconnect what really matters, redefine their purpose, and learn to create a larger impact.

This essay was featured in the April 14th edition of The Sunday Paper, Maria Shriver’s free weekly newsletter for people with passion and purpose. To get inspiring and informative content like this piece delivered straight to your inbox each Sunday morning, click here to subscribe.