Isaac Prilleltensky || The Need to Matter

October 28, 2021

In this episode, I talk to Isaac Prilleltensky about well-being and happiness. We start our discussion by highlighting the environment and community’s role in well-being instead of conceptualizing it as a purely individualistic construct. Isaac further elaborates on the dangers of mattering “too much” and why we need to balance personal and collective wellness. We also touch on the topics of fairness, social justice, humanistic psychology, and Isaac’s works as a humor writer.


Isaac Prilleltensky holds the inaugural Erwin and Barbara Mautner Chair in Community Well-Being at the University of Miami. He’s published 12 books and over 140 articles and chapters. His interests are in the promotion of well-being in individuals, organizations, and communities; and in the integration of wellness and fairness. His most recent book is How People Matter: Why It Affects Health, Happiness, Love, Work, and Society, co-authored with his wife, Dr. Ora Prilleltensky.

Website: www.professorisaac.com/


  • Isaac’s definition of well-being
  • Predictors of well-being and happiness
  • The need to matter 
  • Corrective justice to achieve equality
  • Me vs. We Culture
  • Fairness is a prerequisite for mattering 
  • Risks of glorifying grit and resilience 
  • Balancing liberty, fraternity, and equality for a self-actualized society
  • Democratize happiness 
  • The right and responsibility to matter
  • Psychology and the status quo
  • Isaac as a humor writer: smarter through laughter
  • Fun for Wellness 



4 Responses to “Isaac Prilleltensky || The Need to Matter”

  1. Vicky van Praag says:

    I absolutely loved this episode, and will definitely learn more about Isaac Prilleltensky’s work.

  2. Shawn O'Brien says:

    I think the notion of “mattering” is very much tied to self esteem as defined by Terror Management Theory (TMT), and its function is to buffer against existential anxiety as demonstrated by the TMT research. Scott, TMT is relevant to so much of what interests you, not to mention how it explains much of human behavior, including tribalism. I’m surprised you’ve never interviewed Sheldon Solomon. Growth is limited if we don’t choose adaptive ways of coping with the inevitable anxiety that arises from our awareness of our own mortality.

  3. Mathieu Le Corre says:

    Aleluya! At last somebody calls psychology for having been hyperfocused on individuals and having been in denial of the importance of community and fairness in well being. As Dr. Prilleltensky, Anglo-Saxon psychology makes the mistake of painting humans as individual Super Heroes who are entirely responsible for their own fate. This tendency also worried me in the mindfulness movement. Anyway, thank you Dr. Prilleltensky for getting us to see what was staring us in the face for decades, and thanks Scott for giving him a voice on your program.

  4. Anna Jennison-Phillips says:

    What a wonderful conversation. And I love Dr Isaac’s accent – I’ve never heard so many rolling r’s in such an eloquent speaker!. I’m fairly new to this subject but find each episode so thought-provoking and really want to learn more. Mattering, being valued and giving value, will stay with me. Many thanks.

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