Eva-Bettina Gruber (Austria), minimalist and impact entrepreneur from Vienna. A woman who shares her lifestyles with others. A lifestyle of simple living – enabling you to live more. Read about her story here. – Interview by ASTRID SCHRADER
The Arc: Eva, we’ve met you at The Arc Fest 2018 in Valencia (Spain), as a person who is very self-aware, very self-reflected. What experiences have made you become the person you are today?
Eva: Truly falling in love at the age of 15, and not giving up to believe in love and love fully ever since – even though I am currently not together with the person in recently fell in love with. At the age of 38, this hurts.
As I learned to love myself for real, and this only happened in recent years, I am not afraid to be alone anymore. I created a mantra which tells me “If I am truly with me, honest, caring for myself, I will never be alone”. Still, I aim for being with someone for real.
After being really sick and many times in physical and emotional pain for more than 10 years, I started to feel like a real woman again at the age of 30. Yes, at the age of 30!
An eating disorder and along with it a heavy exhaustion and depression in the beginning stopped me from living. Stopped me from experiencing many things the way young people might experience life. But overcoming this partly dark time of my young life made me experience life differently. I value life for real. I value my emotions, my body, even my menstruation, my relationships with my beloved people. I value all resources that enable me to be. Sounds cheesy, damn yes. But it’s as simple as that.
Learning about my family’s history, especially my grandma’s suicide time and time again especially over the last 10 years, made me get closer with my ancestors. Made me connect with my inner me and what I inherited within my personality from my family. Her early death didn’t stop me from getting to know her about 30 years later.
Guiding some of my grandparents on their death bed, especially my second grandma, enabled her to finally let go and rest in peace. Enabled me to slow down in life a little and enjoy even more.
Her final words to me, before I left the room, were “Eva, go live!”. With a smile as well as tears in our eyes. This is what I try to do now.
As good as I can. And to love is a big part of my life. I learned so much from listening to my grandma, to her stories. I am so thankful for all the questions she asked me. Her curiosity about life. Her resilience. She never gave up on learning something. On questioning things.
Another big milestone in my life was quitting my corporate job at the age of 30. Since then I started two social ventures and guided many entrepreneurs to create sustainable ways of today’s economy. I co-created the venture Three Coins to foster financial education among young people in Europe. I worked in the field of package-free consumerism to challenge the problem of waste in retail. I mentor and coach organizations that do good. I fundraise and run partnerships for the global NGO Social Impact Award which educates and skills about 8,000+ young social change makers every year. Yes, this passion and the variety of jobs also come with downsides.
No, it’s not only about the little money. I almost burned out, luckily not fully. I took me damn a long time to recover. To feel strong and free (!) again. I needed to let go of my first venture operationally. Even today, I need to intentionally take it easier. It made me adjust my self-care and self-worth. It made my try to deal with my time and energy more consciously. I say NO much more. I say YES to myself much more. I integrated sports and yoga back into my life, exercising almost every day. I energize by spending my time in nature, even if it’s just a park nearby. I created tiny habits that help me every day. I found my energy spot in my home at my kitchen window which simply supports my inner peace, focus, and energy.
This experience led me into a specific lifestyle. A lifestyle which is not completely new to me. I had an eye on mother earth already as a child, aiming to use little resources. Hence, my lifestyle of simple living, minimalism, and zero waste (package-free consumption) is something of true importance to me. I don’t preach about it but it sparks true inspiration to people that are with me. This lifestyle nourishes me with space, time, energy, and focus. It leads to more joy, awareness, and creativity.
That’s why my latest milestone was the design of services which enable “Simple Living and Healthy Habits” for individuals and teams. Why? Every day we get consumed by our belongings, media, and people. We suffer from distractions. Focus becomes the skill of the 21st century. My Simple Living Model creates your personal space and habits to focus on what matters in your life and work. Simple Living can become your kit of methods and tools to limit distractions but create space. It’s as simple as that. And it fully pays back, not only once. [Learn more HERE.]
The Arc: When doing this – what has been your biggest struggle?
Eva: Funnily enough, it was life itself. I had to struggle with life for many years before I learned to approach life differently – which remains a constant, daily learning. Moreover, it is life paired with my personality. I always wanted to do good and rather be perfect in many ways, too many ways.
The Arc: Perfectionism is a beast. What have you done to get started anyways?
Eva: Two important learnings were firstly aligning with my real wants and needs. Not an easy ride for many of us 😉 Secondly, saying YES to myself and NO to external influences that don’t do me good. May this be too many belongings, daily media, and social activities.
Moreover, I am asking more for help. Something I had to learn by hard, as I always intended to solve issues by myself. Still, I am not that good at asking for support. Receiving it feels awkward at many times as it is not in my genes. But as a friend, mentor, coach, and consultant I curiously ask questions and share advice and life hacks. My friends and clients take them with open hands and hearts. Still, I want to train my muscle of “asking-for-support” way better before an issue gets too burning.
The Arc: What kind of advice can you give others with a similar challenge?
Eva: Learn about your body first. Feel good in your body. If you work with your body and become more sensitive about it, your mind follows. As your body receives attention, love, and caring, your mind will ask for it as well.
Moreover, let yourself be guided by very experienced people that fit your needs. Changing yourself, especially after for example a long illness, needs a lot of energy and focus. This is impressively supported by a change in your environment – mainly a reset of your home and workplace – and a set of healthy habits. A sparring partner who knows which next step to take is key. Why? We read tons of books and watch shows how to change for the better. This is impressive, and you get motivated to act. But after some time, you give up again. Why? Changing behavior is a very tough nut to crack. Research shows that behavior only changes when you have an epiphany, which rarely happens, you change your environment, or you change your habits.
Hence, you need more than your intellect to make change happen. You need personal support.
Take part in retreats, workshops, and sharing groups to learn. Take a coach. Create your “why”. Why am I doing this currently? Re-define your why as soon as you obviously have forgotten about it. And create a simple mantra out of your why. My why is “Live, Love, Learn”.
The Arc: Last but not least – Who do YOU dare to be and which IMPACT do you wanna stand for?
Eva: As an Impact Entrepreneur, an experienced KonMari Consultant, and a passionate Habit Coach, I already stand for “Simple Living and Healthy Habits”. Yes, I do live in a rich country (Austria). Yes, I am out of a middle-class family which is pretty well off. We never over-consumed. But we all know that over-consumption and its distractions are a daily challenge for many of us within Western society. Hence, I want especially people from the middle-class – may it be entrepreneurs, creatives, and parents who are important role models – to reset their life- and workstyles to live simpler.
Living more conscious and minimalistic doesn’t mean I am taking something away from you. On the contrary, it allows you to really experience life and relationships more joyfully. It provides you with more space, head space, time, energy, focus, and creativity. Imagine the time and energy gained to really play with your kids. Imagine a fresh kick of focus to creatively design your latest product idea.
Hence, I want many more people to say NO to today’s mainstream consumerism. But to say YES to themselves with the help of conscious consumerism, a reset of the space we live and work in, and healthy habits. You should feel free and happy to do what truly matters in your life.
The Arc: Thank you so much for the interview, Eva! And if you are reading this and wanna get in touch with her, reach out HERE.