You Matter, Extended Cut

On June 15, 2009, this was Seth Godin’s daily blog post:

You matter

  • When you love the work you do and the people you do it with, you matter.
  • When you are so gracious and generous and aware that you think of other people before yourself, you matter.
  • When you leave the world a better place than you found it, you matter.
  • When you continue to raise the bar on what you do and how you do it, you matter.
  • When you teach and forgive and teach more before you rush to judge and demean, you matter.
  • When you touch the people in your life through your actions (and your words), you matter.
  • When kids grow up wanting to be you, you matter.
  • When you see the world as it is, but insist on making it more like it could be, you matter.
  • When you inspire a Nobel prize winner or a slum dweller, you matter.
  • When the room brightens when you walk in, you matter.
  • And when the legacy you leave behind lasts for hours, days or a lifetime, you matter.

As I read, my back stiffened. Yes, those things are good. Yes, it is good to do good things. And none of them matters to mattering.

I base my belief on A Guide to Rational Living by Albert Ellis. Ellis’s premise is that we are worthy simply because we exist. He lists 10 irrational beliefs that underlie the things we do to make ourselves matter. My frequently held irrational belief is #2: “I must be thoroughly competent, adequate, and achieving. Or I must at least be competent or talented in some important area.”

I took a risk and posted a response to Godin’s email in Triiibes, the online community he hosted at the time. In part, it said:

Begging to Differ with Seth

Well, sort of. It’s actually an addition to his list. A precursor, if you will.

In yesterday’s post, You Matter, Seth gives reasons why we matter. The post resonated for many–30 likes, 9 comments, rated 5 stars by over 50 people.

I believe everything Seth wrote in that post is true. I also believe that if we did none of that, if we stood in a corner of an empty room and said nothing, did nothing, we would still matter. My perspective, and it comes from living most of my life trying to prove that I did matter, is that the prerequisite to really having an impact on the world is to realize that I matter, that everyone matters, simply because we exist. We have value in and of ourselves, apart from anything we do. Yes, doing is good. Doing is especially good when it springs from a soul that knows its own worth, that isn’t proving itself to justify itself. When we know who we are and the value of who we are, then the doing really flows.

So, here are a few additions to Seth’s list from yesterday:

  • When you wake up in the morning and you’re not sure why you’re alive, you matter.
  • When all you do is breathe, you matter.
  • When you wonder the purpose for your life, you matter.
  • When you feel you have no comfort to offer anyone, you matter.
  • When your hands hang empty at your sides because you don’t know what matters, you matter.
  • When you have opened the fridge or the bottle or the medicine chest too many times, you matter.
  • When you agree, you matter.
  • When you disagree, you matter.
  • When you don’t even know what you think, you matter.
  • Because you are, you matter.

The Saturday after I had been exposed to Covid but before I knew I had it, I felt so tired it seemed hard to move. Even though it was only almost noon, I went back to bed and slept for five hours, accomplishing nothing I had planned.

I still mattered. (I didn’t matter less.)

On Sunday evening, my brother and I had a good conversation. It feels as if we are building a sibling relationship we never had. I am proud of us both for the courage and vulnerability it took to get here.

I still mattered. (I didn’t matter more.)

We tend to, especially in our status-driven culture, equate our mattering with our success. They are unrelated. There is no correlation.

You matter as much as everyone on the planet, no more, no less.

You matter.

Full stop.

Chewing the Cud of Good

Thankful for simple pleasures.

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