Every Monday Matters

By Paul Thorsteinson

When an incarcerated person hears the term “self-analysis” falling from a soothsayer’s lips to clack against the concrete floor like a metal fifty cent piece dropped from clumsy fingers, we are already turning to pursue anything else and fast! There is no allure to feeling guilty and disappointed.

The day he came to speak, Matt Emerzian hit the penitentiary like an atomic bomb. However, it wasn’t with destructive waves of fire and explosions. His impact was with an inspiring call to growth and self-analysis. Something a lot of us in the penitentiary are familiar with, but the term indicates the brutal self-abuse of guilt for what brought us here and the disappointment of the time we have lost over the years.

Matt didn’t have a message that encouraged self-abuse. Instead, he talked about finding a way to love yourself and be kind to others. With his story, Matt demonstrated the two concepts were not mutually exclusive.

Matt used to be a successful music promoter. He had money. He had a promising career. He went to all the great parties with all the other successful people. Yet, he would wake up in the morning crippled with depression and dissatisfaction. He realized if those things didn’t lead to happiness he needed to do something different. As a form of personal therapy, Matt started going out and doing selfless acts for others every Monday. He said the experience was transformative.

“You’ve heard the phrase you can’t love others until you love yourself?” He questioned the crowd. “I don’t believe that. I didn’t start to love myself until I started to do compassionate, selfless things for others.”

After rediscovering his purpose and what really made him happy, Matt Emerzian left his job as a music promoter. He began writing books about his experiences. The first was called Every Monday Matters and his second book was called You Matter. Over the years, Matt has built up a national infrastructure to promote the Every Monday Matters philosophies in schools with young children. Currently, over 1.3 million students have participated. In addition, Matt is expanding Every Monday Matters to include the incarcerated and is working with Stafford Creek Correctional Complex to develop its first pilot group.

Matt’s philosophy and impact on the world can be summed up in his statement during an interview on the podcast for Life of a Lifer: “The greatest change we can bring to the system is by affecting the way people see and create love for themselves.”

Artwork by Jim Fussell