Katharina Geissler-Evans on embracing Heiterkeit

Posted on March 1, 2024 by Sarah Robertson

Katharina Geissler-Evans is a writer, fashion stylist and online presence consultant for small fashion and lifestyle brands and the founder of the Heiter brand and magazine. She has a background in e-commerce, marketing, fashion media and journalism and has worked for brands such as Net-A-Porter, Mytheresa, Farfetch and Crew Clothing Co. Today, Katharina takes us on her “heiter journey,” inspiring us to make space for “Heiterkeit.”

Photography: tobetold by Lena Kinast
Styling: Katharina Geissler-Evans
for the upcoming “Homecoming” issue


I am sitting at my desk, thinking about Heiterkeit (German noun for cheerfulness and joy) and the role it has played in my life.

It has helped me in many different ways and throughout various difficult situations, e.g. it once helped me to put myself first after a long period of not taking my own needs seriously. During other times, it helped me navigate change and embrace new beginnings rather than fearing them. I would even say that my philosophy of finding and celebrating joy gave me a new lease on life, especially when things around me didn’t feel joyful at all. Like many others, I’ve faced situations that left me feeling overwhelmed, worn out and sad. Still, I’ve tried to focus on small “heiter moments” so that I could keep going and take one step at a time. A story that always reminds me to do so is the one behind heiter and how it all started, and that is the story I’d like to tell you today.

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I was so amazed and excited about my experience that I wanted to share it with others.

A journey back in time

Let me take you back to late 2015. Being a twenty-something, I tried so hard to do it all. I felt like I needed to prove that I was good enough: to myself and those around me. Back then I worked full-time for one of the biggest fashion retailers in the world, and in the evenings and on Saturdays I attended university. I wanted to perform well and show that I was capable of succeeding at both. At that point, my husband and I had a pretty toxic living situation too. We were never sure if we could (or wanted to) stay in our flat. On top of that, relationships around me were breaking, simply because I wasn’t able to invest time in them. I was constantly stressed and tired, and the word self-care was long forgotten. I felt like I was running down a never-ending road until my health began to fail and I had to stop.

The doctors couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me and I was forced to take a break for several weeks. My employer told me that they wouldn’t pay me anymore if I didn’t return to work any time soon. My tutor at university implied that I would fail my year if there was no improvement. I tried to come up with solutions and seek help from others but nothing seemed to work. I was devastated and fell into a deep depression. I couldn’t see a way out of my situation and all I wanted to do was give up.

Coming home to myself

One evening, I found myself on the bathroom floor, crying. I can’t remember exactly what changed in that moment, but I suddenly realised that I was the only one who could get myself out of that rut. I was the only one who could make myself better.

That night, I made the decision to enjoy life again. I went to bed and slept properly for the first time in weeks. The next morning, I took myself out for coffee, bought myself beautiful flowers and went for a long walk along the river. Once back home, I watched a movie that made me laugh and the day after I immersed myself in a creative activity. It took me a while to unwind and unlearn, to have fun and be playful. After a few days, I felt like my old self was coming back. I was happier and my health began to improve. Looking for and enjoying moments of joy made such a big difference, those moments had given me a new lease of life. I was so amazed and excited about my experience that I wanted to share it with others. That is how the Heiter brand and magazine came about, and that is the reason why I think Heiterkeit has added to my life.

Opening my heart to Heiterkeit

Don’t get me wrong, my life is not perfect. I still struggle to strike the right balance between working and carving out enough time for the people I love. I still struggle to keep in touch with myself and plan in time for self-care. I even struggle to be focused on Heiterkeit sometimes, but I remember. I remember how I felt back then and what got me out of it. I remember, and that helps to be aware of heiter moments, even during a pandemic, climate change and other shocking happenings, even on the days I feel like I am failing as a mum, wife and business owner. I remember, and that makes me appreciate lunch with my family and hearing my kids giggle. It gives me energy when helping others through my heiter work. It makes it easier to stop and admire my surroundings, and it reminds me to consciously enjoy that first cup of coffee in the morning.

You might wonder why I am telling you all of this. Well, it’s because there are a few things I’d like you to remember too. You can be heiter, even when things around you don’t always go right. You can be heiter, without having to try hard: Heiterkeit is achievable. All you need to do is open your eyes and heart and allow yourself to let heiter moments in. All you need to do is give them a chance. You could begin today: I’ve shared five ways on how to invite more joy into your everyday life below and I hope you’ll find them useful.

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Being aware of how much joy there is already can help you feel hopeful and grounded.

Five ways to invite heiter moments into your life

  1. Show appreciation for the “heiter things” that are already present:
    Take a few minutes out of your day, and grab a pen and some paper. You can of course get your laptop or phone out, but I always feel that actual writing has a therapeutic effect on me. So, without thinking too much, write down all the things that are already in your life that bring you joy (Heiterkeit) e.g. that first cup of coffee in bed, going for a daily walk, the scenic view from your window, your son or daughter’s happy smile, chats over tea with your partner, bedtime stories with your kids. Being aware of how much joy there is already can help you feel hopeful and grounded, no matter what life throws at you.
  2. Think about your daily activities and how you can make them “more heiter”:
    Make a list of all the things you do on a daily basis. Laundry, cooking, school run, recycling waste. Think about how you can turn those to-dos into a “heiter experience”. Can you listen to an audiobook or podcast whilst folding the washing? Can you add another form of mindful movement to your daily walk, or use the time for a calming breathing exercise? How about reading a couple of pages of your favourite magazine whilst waiting for your dinner to cook? Once you add a little joy to your chores, it’ll be much easier to do them. With time, they become part of your day-to-day and support your well-being.
  3. Open yourself up to trying something new:
    Shaking things up and embracing the new can bring a sense of achievement, excitement and, well, Heiterkeit! It can move you from feeling stuck to feeling in control and inspired. One way of getting there is by attending workshops or courses that allow you to embrace creativity or practise mindfulness. It’s easy to forget ourselves when life is busy but, I promise, if you make yourself a priority, you will notice a difference – and your loved ones will too. P.S. The advantage of doing it in an organised way is that there are fixed dates in your diary that offer a sense of accountability.
  4. Join a community and build connections:
    Being part of a 
    community can help you feel supported, connected and more optimistic. It can also fight “anti-Heiterkeit” feelings such as loneliness. Yes, chatting on social media is fun and can bring joy, but (and this is based on research) to truly enjoy ourselves we need to share experiences alongside others. Joining a community with regular get-togethers and perhaps even activities (like workshops or courses) can make a huge difference to how you feel and make it easier to find and celebrate moments of joy in your everyday life.
  5. Ensure you feel “heiter” in your work too:
    Based on my own experience and through regularly supporting others with their work (through consulting and The Heiter Society), I know how important it is to take time to reflect and ensure that our work is aligned with our values. There’s not much point in following marketing trends and business advice if it’s not aligned with what we want to share with the world. Also, things don’t have to be hard. Don’t be scared of leaning into your talents and skills when it comes to creating and marketing your business, or of moving away from business strategies that no longer serve you.

You are the force behind your business and your well-being matters. One quote that has really helped me recently and that I find fitting for this point is the following: “The more you are yourself, the more you shine.”


Katharina Geissler-Evans is the founder of Heiter, and you can follow her “heiter journey” on Instagram. If you’re curious to learn more about Heiter, you can buy the Heiter magazine, join the The Heiter Society and participate in Heiter workshops.

As a member of the Heiter Society, I can vouch for its friendliness and supportiveness. We small business owners need to stick together, and this is a wonderful opportunity to cultivate a sense of belonging and community.