“Our lives are over in a blink,” Brett Atlas said. “At the end, we’ll want to know we accomplished what we wanted. If I can inspire anyone to make even the smallest change, my writing will have been worth it.”
That writing came in the form of Three Things Matter Most, which was published this fall.
Bookstores might file Brett’s book under ‘self-help,’ but it is so much more than that. Covering topics like how to say ‘no,’ risking rejection or something called ‘the wireless leash,’ Brett’s book is part psychology, part philosophy, part the voice of an older brother who tells you things you sort of already knew but were unwilling to acknowledge. He talks with the voice of experience and is willing to be vulnerable in doing so. Brett is not speaking from a pedestal; he is in the trenches with the reader and that makes this book remarkably comforting to read.
“This book began as a collection of Post-it notes, journal entries and emails,” he writes in the introduction. “I wanted to develop a repository of generational wisdom for my kids to have. I like solving puzzles and I have always wanted to figure out life, because that is the biggest puzzle of all. When my father died, I asked myself what was left of what he taught me. I look at my kids now and I want them to benefit from what I learned. Also, I wanted to write it to see if I could do it—and I hope it inspires people to think.””
Three major things, Time, relationships and money, are what provide the book with its structure; as Brett discussed how we spend each of those assets, he delves deep into what makes them important. “I think their respective levels of importance are not what most people think they are,” he said. “I also believe the overlaps, how we choose to incorporate all three, are key to happiness.
The true measure of wealth is in the quality of our relationships,” he wrote, but then goes on to say that it all begins with “the relationship we have with ourselves.” The underlying message? We all have work to do, and we need to look inward as well as outside ourselves while doing it.
“Writing this was important to me, because until you understand who you are, you can’t have meaningful relationships,” he said. “However, as we live, who we are is constantly changing, so this is not an easy thing. Sometimes we know ourselves today, but we may not know ourselves in the future.”
He’s fascinated with failure, and the specific type of growth it can produce. He’s also fascinated with what really matters; one of the biggest questions the book asks is what matters most to the reader? The book also includes action exercises to help you answer some of the questions Brett poses.
February 1, 2022, Brett will give a book talk as part of the new Author series, a collaboration between Community Engagement and the Jewish Press. Sign up for the Zoom link here:
(Please register. This event is free to all, but we’d love to know ahead of time how many attendants to expect on Zoom.)