life lesson

The model to unhappiness: 

Rarely something is really rocket-science but it takes one person to put something into the right words and it makes “click”. So did Dr. Srikumar Rao, when he described the If-Then Model. (Full disclosure: He is actually a Happiness Guru.)

The reason it clicked with me the short speech by Dr. Rao, was a core question I have had in my mind for a couple of weeks now: Why can we not just be? Without goals? Should that not be enough? Can we not just be happy as is? Must we set goals all the time?

Back to Dr. Rao’s description of what he calls the “If-Then” Model. He observes human beings fighting against what they have by wanting something else. Example 1: I need to find a partner, to have great sex. Then I am happy. Example 2: I need my kids to go to Harvard or Ivy League school, then I’ll be happy.  — If those “goals” how I would call them, do not happen, and we already pre-defined that our happiness is measured by us reaching the goal, the end result will be: Not happy. So what can you do? Dr. Rao reminds us of situations where we just were in awe, e.g. we saw this beautiful valley. He suggests, that at this moment, we fully accepted the moment as is.

Meditation can be good, unless you use it reverse

In Vipassana Meditation (I will post my 10-day Vipassana experience at some stage and link it), we are taught, to stay equanimous. The theory is that we neither crave the beautiful feelings nor try to avoid negative feelings. Ever tried to not focus on that pain in your leg? Trying to fight it? And what happened? Yes, it seems to get more intense, the more you fight it. And what about love or the beautiful feelings? As soon as you start chasing it, they vanish. You might wonder, that we turn into an emotion-less human something 🙂 — I thought that, as well. Truth to be told: We’ll always feel, though. Staying equanimous empowers us to be more the observer and respond, rather than react.  We just accept what is, without trying to chase or avoid it.

Connecting the 2 lessons above, we learn that there are 2 good ways to increase our unhappiness:

  • Set goals (the higher the better) and make sure that our happiness depends on us achieving them!
  • Crave all positive feelings because you never know when they are back AND fight as hard as we can against negative emotions because you know, they are painful.

Just in case, if you – like me – prefer to be on the happier side, I HIGHLY recommend trying the opposite of what I just wrote 😉

Being happier can be a choice!

Yours faithfully,


P.S. You can find Dr. Rao’s video speech (4.34min) here

Reflection: What motivated me today to write this post

I came down with a big cold a week ago. I first thought it is nothing. But hey! So I am writing today, this morning, feeling the first today ok-ish again. I am writing this, not to get your sympathy, but to let you those of you know, who wonder about starting your own blog: When should I start writing?The answer is now. Feeling a little sick is not an excuse. 🙂

Also, this morning I received a message from a very good friend of mine. It contained a video. A video that explains us the model to be unhappy. That is the inspiration for this quick post.

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Just now, I am sitting in a cozy cafe with beautiful humming background noise from conversations across the neighboring tables, gentle background music while listening to my own Spotify playlist called “melancholic”.

Yesterday, I thought my biggest weakness was, that I am usually late. Even, when I am 15min early as on Thursday (yes, I can even specify the date so rare it is!) going to a workshop for entrepreneurs, I decided to use the time to find a coffee-shop nearby to get me a chai latte. Result? 5min late. At least not 15min plus I got a drink 🙂

The same day I came across a wonderful scientific research (sometimes you gotta love science!) that suggests, that being late is a trait of amazing people, see the blog post from Nikola Tesla Fans. People like me, are more optimistic, likely more successful and have higher levels of enthusiasm.

So now, that we have CLEARLY established that my biggest weakness is not being late, I thought, maybe, I am weakness free?

That thought only lasted so long. 30min into the Virgin Media Startup workshop for Entrepreneurs, I introduced myself and what problem I am working on. The comment of our mentor that day: “And here is Stefanie, working on 18 things at the same time”.

That immediately triggered a known feeling in my chest and cheeks suggesting that feeling of “Great, he got me. That was fast!” embarrassment. Who could I fool? My parents already told me in my teenage age that I am living life at such a fast pace, that I probably would kill myself with a heart-attack rather sooner than later.

Since then, I have tried to work on less, do less, focus more. By the way, I also tried to be on time since my elementary school teacher, Frau Schmitt, complaint to my parents that my attitude to being on time was not ideal. Since then, my parents tried (and me too!) to wake me up earlier to have more time in the morning to get ready. Somehow, I managed to fill up every minute until I was perfectly on time: 15min later than ideal.

Coming back to the the point of doing too many things at a time: You can guess now, how successful I have been with focusing on only 1-3 projects at a time, which is by the way HIGHLY recommended: Science (again) suggests that we humans aren’t made for multitasking and can even harm our brains (see Travis Bradberry’s Article on Forbes for example). 

Does this mean I am doomed?

It would not be me if I didn’t have a perfect answer (or how my parents used to say “You always have an answer to everything”, in German “A lid for every pod”):

The truth is that I am focusing on only 3 things in my life. You just have to look at it on a larger scale! Focused on Education, Health & Wellbeing and Trying new things. That’s perfectly reasonably only 3 things. :-)…..I won’t mention the multiple projects and sub-projects underneath of each of those topics. That would break the scope here.

So yes, my biggest “weakness” (funny note, I wrote by accident “focus” here! :D), is being curious and interested in so many things, that I struggle with focusing on only 1-3 aspects or projects. I have now 2 choices:

  • I either try to only do 2-3 things OR
  • I find new ways to effectively manage more than 3 projects.

Guess which option I am going for 🙂

Yours truthfully,


P.S. The tool that I used this time to get this blog-post out the door was the 5-sec rule by Mel Robbins. Go check-it-out! I have no affiliation but this blog post is a result of applying this simple concept. Just do it!



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