-Emily, can you tell us a little about yourself?
-I was born in Yerevan in August of 1984, but I’ve lived in the U.S. since I was five. I’m a writer, poet, and philosopher. I also own a multimedia company called Maroutian Entertainment. I publish my work through my company. I initially started writing stories and screenplays around 11-12 years old, but I didn’t want to be a philosopher until I was 16 years old. I started writing philosophical books in my early 20’s. This is also around the same time that I created my multimedia company. I knew that if I wanted to have full control over my work, then I would have to publish my books.
-Are your books more about self-care, self-help, or philosophy?
-Most of my books are mixes of philosophy and psychology. I think those two subjects together reveal very powerful insights into the human mind. Who are we, and why do we think and behave the way we do? That question is both philosophical and psychological. In my books, I try to examine those types of questions through both fields. I’ve spent the past 15-18 years reading and studying them. I like to combine them in my work and use what I’ve learned to help others. My intention for my books is to help people understand themselves better. Most people don’t realize that a lot of their problems stem from their thinking, not from their circumstances. They are not responding to the event, they are responding to their thoughts and feelings about the event. Their perspective defines their experience. Through my books, I help people develop self-awareness so they can make better choices in their lives. I also help them process their emotions and release what is no longer helpful in their lives.
-What are your philosophical influences?
-Mostly eastern philosophy, but I read many different branches of philosophy because I believe you can find some value in everything. I also think it’s intellectually healthy to expose your mind to ideas you might not agree with. Nowadays people only want to hear what they already believe. They surround themselves with people who are echoes of them because they want to be right. I think we do a great disservice to our growth by staying in a mental box. We do this because we always want to be right.
When it comes to social interactions, being right isn’t important to me. I care more about growing and expanding my mind. I want to know what I can learn from you. I don’t want to force you to believe what I believe. It makes no difference to me if you agree with me or not. Knowledge changes with new discoveries so you can be right today and wrong tomorrow. It’s a better use of my time to spend it working on my own mind instead of trying to prove other people wrong. I also don’t waste my energy on arguing with others. It changes nothing in my life if you agree with me. You can freely disagree with me too, my world will not end.
-Some of your philosophy is about the energy of emotion, you even have a book with that same title, what’s your most valuable advice about it?
-There is so much I can say about how emotions affect our lives, but the simplest one is that emotions are universal. That means everyone feels every emotion. You are not the only person who feels angry, sad, frustrated, or afraid. We all have those moments where our emotions feel intense or painful. You are not alone in your grief, or in your rage, or in your fear. The healthiest thing you can do is to feel. We are feeling beings and we shouldn’t ignore or dismiss our feelings because we think it makes us weak. There is no weak emotion. The more we fight them, the more we suffer.
Emotions move as energy within our bodies. If they don’t flow naturally because we are resisting an emotion, then they can make us sick. When guilt and shame aren’t released in a healthy way, they can drain our energy and make us ill. So the most helpful advice I can give regarding emotions is not to resist them. Don’t shame yourself for feeling what you feel. If you breathe through the emotion, it will naturally relax and pass. If you judge it or shame it, you’ll prolong it. You’ll make it worse. Feeling is normal and natural regardless of what you’re feeling. The only thing that makes it unhealthy or inappropriate is how you respond from your emotion and what you do afterward. But the emotion itself is normal. You’re supposed to feel several different emotions throughout your day. It means you’re alive.
-British psychologist Fuschia Sirois wrote an article about the surprising benefits of being a pessimist. What do you think about protective pessimism?
-I have a whole chapter on pessimism in my book, The Energy of Emotions. I will try my best to sum it up in a short paragraph. A pessimist is afraid to play in the game. He thinks, “I’m going to lose anyway, so why play?” By thinking like that, he misses out on the experience of the game. He doesn’t realize that you can’t win every game. You just have to show up, do your best, and hope for a win. Sometimes it will happen, and sometimes it won’t. Successful people lose as much as they win. Sometimes they lose more times than they win, but they keep trying. Pessimists don’t keep trying. They stop after they lose. Sometimes they don’t even wait to lose, they stop before they even try. They want to avoid all bad experiences so they stop taking risks and chances. They don’t understand the value of experience. Failure is one of life’s teachers. If you can learn the lesson from it, you can increase your chances of success for the next time.
If I were a pessimist I would have never started my company. People kept telling me that writers don’t make any money. Philosophy is a dead subject. I’m going to die poor. If I had listened to them I would have quit without trying. But making money wasn’t as important to me as writing my books. So I published my first book. It didn’t sell well. So I published another one. That didn’t sell well either. It took about four books before I had a bestseller. If I were a pessimist, I would have stopped after one unsuccessful book. Now, all my books are selling because I didn’t give up, because I knew persistence always wins. Pessimism doesn’t take you anywhere. In fact, it keeps you in the same place. If you’re happy there, stay there. But if you want better for yourself, you need hope and persistence.
-Is the “Technology generation” a challenge or an opportunity?
-Both. Like every change it has its upsides and its downsides. Modern day technology has made our lives easier, but it has also made us lazier. It has helped us connect with people thousands of miles away, but it has separated us from the people sitting right next to us. It has created multiple new avenues for success, like software, apps, games, and online businesses, but it has also made other jobs obsolete.
My entire business exists online. I just need a laptop with an Internet connection and I’m at work. My printing, shipping, and distribution are all online thanks to Amazon. People from all over the world can order a copy of my book and amazon’s printing facilities will print it, bind it, and ship it for us. We don’t ever need to rent storage space or ship books. This frees up my time to create and it also lowers costs. Thanks to print-on-demand technology, digital distribution, and social media, we don’t need an office to work. I can take my laptop anywhere in the world and still do the work I do. Without this kind of technology, I wouldn’t have a company and I wouldn’t have the freedom I have now.
-What kind of literature do you read most often?
-I read philosophy, psychology, business books, poetry, and any non-fiction book that looks interesting to me. I like reading about other people’s thoughts, beliefs, and experiences. I find people fascinating and I’m always curious as to how they think and behave as they do. I try to read 30-50 books a year. To me, books are magic. They can transport you into another land, into another time, into someone else’s mind. I can read the thoughts of people who have been dead for a thousand years. That’s incredible to me. I think we don’t appreciate books as much as we need to.
-Tell us interesting things about Maroutian Entertainment?
-I started my company in 2009 so this year is the 10-year anniversary. Until now I’ve only published books, but this year I’m adding online courses as well. I’m in the middle of creating several courses and I hope that by summer I can open my online school for anyone around the world who wants to learn more about these subjects. Once again, modern technology offers me the opportunity to create a digital school and reach students all around the world.
I have also written screenplays that I would like to turn into movies. My recent screenplay was a finalist in the 2018 Los Angeles International Screenplay Awards. I hope to get it produced soon. The next ten years will include courses and movies.
-Do you like Armenian literature? Who is your favorite Armenian writer?
-I’m not very familiar with Armenian literature. I have heard of Hovhannes Tumanyan, but I haven’t read his work. I used to read children’s stories as a child, but I stopped reading and writing in Armenian after the age of 7 and I wasn’t able to retain that ability. I did read Back Dog of Fate by Peter Balakyan, but he is an Armenian-American author who was born in America.
-How does it feel to be a bestselling author?
-I’m happy that more people have discovered my work. I became a bestselling author because my readers shared my work with others. They purchased my books for friends and family members because they found value in them. Sometimes they’ll purchase 10-15 copies and give them away as presents. That’s really the best compliment for an author, when someone loves your work so much they want the people they love to experience it too.
I also love reading all the messages I receive on social media and through email from people who tell me how much my work has changed their lives. I get messages from people who have experienced trauma, who have been depressed or suicidal. They tell me that my work was crucial to their healing. I have won four awards for my books, but I consider those messages to have more value. I hope to continue to do that with future books and courses.
If you would like more information on Emily or her work, you can visit her website or find her on Instagram.