David Strittmatter

Never satisfied, always grateful

Gratitude is riches, complaint is poverty 

Dear Friend,

Welcome back to my weekly newsletter. How is it going? I am still enjoying my internship, can learn more and more from day to day and had a really great weekend. Moreover, I realized a very interesting aspect regarding the difference between working and studying. Working and studying imply two very different kinds of “lifestyles”. As a student you have a huge amount of freedom regarding when you do how much for your studies which makes it possible that you take some days off whenever you want to. However, this also implies that you can always do something (more) for university and that you have no (longer) time periods in which you are completely “free from the burden of learning”. During the semester I have always had this feeling that I can study a little more and use free days for studying.

In contrast to, working for a company means less flexibility, but this allows you to shut down completely once the workday is over. There is no feeling that you need to work a little more. When I leave the office, I do not have this unpleasant feeling that I should do a little more or that I need to “study”. I am not a big friend of the concept of a “work-life-balance”, but rather I strive for a “work-life-harmony”. However, it is a great feeling that you can shut down when you are done with your workday and do not have to think about it after you left the office. Although this was no a real learning, I am very grateful for this realization.

Never satisfied, always grateful

This week I received the results of one of my exams. Friends asked me then (they wrote the same exam) what grade I scored. I really do not like talking about my grades as I have really high expectations and start to “complain” (tell them that I am not satisfied) about grades others would be very happy if they received them.

This situation reminded me of a very important mindset of mine: I decided for myself that I would never be satisfied. Not with grades. Not with my daily diet. Not with my abilities. Never satisfied with anything. But why do I strive for unlimited dissatisfaction? Most people ask me when I talk about this decision whether I could ever be happy then (e. g. when I say that I want to achieve even better grades).

The answer to this is a clear: Yes, of course! Happiness is not about satisfaction, it is about gratefulness, great relationships and many other factors. Just because I am not satisfied with something this does not mean that I am not grateful for this achievement. I am always very grateful for every day in life and happy about every little aspect. However, my goal is to make tomorrow at least a little bit better than I did this day. And as you may already have realized, there is always room for improvement. Consequently, in order to achieve this goal to become every day a little better, I can never be satisfied with the status quo.

And why do I want to become better in every aspect of life day after day? Because it makes me so incredibly happier. For me it feels so great to improve my relationships with my friends, family and colleagues, become more and more self-confident, increase the quality of my daily life by keeping track of my habits and make use of lessons learned from others… Life is like a very long train ride on which you get to see more and more beautiful stations the further you go. But when you get off the train, you cannot get to the most beautiful destinations.

Applied to the concept of striving for unlimited improvement this means the following: As long as you strive for improvement, you can increase the quality of your life (happiness, quality of relationships, personal health…). But when you start to settle for your life (i. e. you are satisfied with it), you miss the opportunity to achieve an even better, more fulfilling life. Of course, you do not have to be dissatisfied with everything or be dissatisfied all the time. When you take a break to enjoy a “station on your train ride” (what can also be very important), you can always come back on the train after your break. But once you are satisfied and stay off the train, you cannot control whether your life becomes better or not.

Smile and laugh as much as you can

Another realization I had this week (and I have come to realize from time to time) is that I should always give my best to walk through life with a smile on my face. I started this a few years ago (it is a concept adopted from Dale Carnegie’s How to win friends) and it has had a really great impact on my life so far. Not only I feel much more comfortable talking to strangers, become more self-confident and go through life happier, I am also perceived differently by others (always in a good mood, radiating joy and happiness). Moreover, it feels and becomes very natural once you have started practicing it.

Yes, smiling is hard and its not natural (nowadays and in the morning at least), so it takes some effort. But once your mood changes, its the most natural feeling. And you’ll catch yourself smiling more than you know. It takes some time getting used to, but once you are it is so easy.

This week was difficult regarding being in a “high energy state” since I had a lack of sleep (no insomnia or something like that, just going to bed too late because working hours were a little longer this week). A sleep shortage substantially impacts my daily mood and performance in a very negative direction. But as I could not find a way to get more sleep, I had to deal with it. What really helped and has always helped me a lot in such a situation is to try to smile and laugh as much as possible. This week I came to the realization that this habit can massively help to deal with those energy shortages. Once I get a kind smile back or can laugh with someone about something I get a nice boost of energy. Apart from that going with a smile through life has many more advantages as I have already written. I highly recommend you to smile more often and to work so it becomes a habit for you, too.

This were my weekly learnings. I hope you could take away something from it. Never hesitate to write me if you have any questions, recommendations or suggestions since I really appreciate it. 

All the best to you and yours,


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