Being Happy: An Interview with Andrew Matthews
You probably have read at least one of his books. Andrew Matthews’ books have been global bestsellers and are published in 42 languages worldwide. We catch up with Andrew in this issue and learn more about his incredible journey.
Becoming an author and an illustrator
EdChron.com: At what age did you begin to illustrate and how did you become an author?
Andrew Matthews: I have been drawing since I was five – and I never stopped. As a kid I would draw anything and anyone – John Lennon, Mickey Mouse, my teachers, sailboats, kangaroos …
I began reading self-improvement books in my 20’s. Lots of them had useful information but they were so dull! So I decided to try to write my own. I wanted it to be simple and entertaining – hence the cartoons.
I wrote Being Happy! when I was 29. I couldn’t find a publisher in my home country Australia. Eventually I found a publisher in Singapore.
EdC: Why did you choose to write about happiness and where do you draw your inspirations from?
AC: Aristotle said, “Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life.” I agree. Yet we don’t study happiness in high school!
I write these books because I want to share basic principles of happiness and success that took me too long to find out. I share ideas that have been life-changing for me – hopefully not in a preachy way!
I get inspired by brave, courageous people who have conquered bigger problems than I have.
EdC: How do you find happiness in your daily life?
AC: Look for GOOD things. We find in life what we look for! If you look for reasons to love your job, your spouse or your life, you will find them. If you look for reasons to dislike your job, your spouse or your life and you find them. In other words happiness is a daily decision.
Give your best! You get out of a relationship what you put into it. You get out of work what you put into it. Life rewards effort, not excuses.
Let go of resentments, forgive other people. Everyone is living their life the best way they know how. When you forgive, you are happier!
Forgive yourself. Where does it say in the book of life that you have to be perfect?
Be Grateful. Happy people focus on what they have. Miserable people focus on what is missing.
Average people say, “When I’m happy, then I’ll be grateful.” Extraordinary people say, “When I am grateful, then I’ll be happy!”
EdC: You are an international motivational speaker traveling the world – can you share an inspirational encounter you faced on one of your engagements?
AC: I get inspired by my readers. I was in Kuala Lumpur in 2013 when a man approached me. He said, “Are you Andrew Matthews? I read your book twenty years ago.” I sensed he had a story to share so I invited him to Starbucks.
He said, “I’m Teuku from Aceh in Indonesia. My family was very poor. When I was in university I was so poor that I owned just one pair of trousers. I was so poor that my girlfriend would give me her shirts to wear. Many days I had nothing to eat.”
“When I was at my lowest point, a friend loaned me the Indonesian version of your book, ‘Being Happy!’
He explained, “Apart from text books, it is the first book I ever read. I began to understand that we choose our thoughts. I began to focus on what I HAD instead of what I DIDN’T HAVE.
“I made a list on a card of everything I wanted for my future: a good job, a wife, two healthy children, an apartment, a nice car …”
He leaned forward, “Today I am the regional business development manager for a multi-national corporation. I travel the world. I have a wife and two beautiful girls, they go to the best schools …”
Teuku’s eyes welled with tears, “Your book changed my life.” My eyes were full of tears. I felt so happy for Teuku.
I must make two points here. Firstly, my book didn’t change his life, Teuku changed his life. Secondly, there is nothing new in my books. These principles have been around forever.
I have included Teuku’s full story in my forthcoming book, How Life Works.
EdC: Your latest book on bullying – what spurred you to cover the topic on bullying?
AC: Bullying has become an epidemic worldwide. It was my wife and publisher Julie who said, “We need to do a book about bullying!”
Many of the books about bullying are dry and academic – and people aren’t reading them. Stop the Bullying! is written in plain English, it has real stories and it has tips for parents, teachers and bullied children.
This post first appeared on Teacher’s Digest print publication. EdChron Magazine is the online version of Teacher’s Digest. Images and photos courtesy of Seashell Publishers. Thank you to Success Resources for facilitating the interview!