What Happiness Looks Like: Kate Stoltzfus

There are as many different happiness journeys as there are people on this planet. With that in mind, I’ve started to reach out to other happy people and ask them to share their stories with you through interviews on this site. My hope is that you’ll find ideas about what to try in your life and permission to stop doing what you assume everyone else is doing.


Kate Stoltzfus knows everyone. At least, that’s how it seemed to me after living in Pittsburgh for a few months. On the rare occasion she wasn’t physically present at an event – either as host or attendee – her name would come up in conversation, accompanied by a sincere smile from the person mentioning her. One of the things that fascinated me about Kate was that I couldn’t figure out exactly what her job was. It almost seemed like she was making a living by just hanging out and making friends with people.

I knew I had to find out more about this woman.

As it turns out, she is an incredible business coach and people connector. She’s also one of the happiest people I’ve ever had the pleasure to work with, and I’m honored to share part of her happiness journey with you.

Kate Stoltzfus

Kate Stoltzfus, Pittsburgh, PA

What makes you happy?

So much! Here are just a few things that bring a smile to my face:

Meeting new people and hearing their stories, introducing friends to one another, organizing events via Propelle and CreativeMornings/Pittsburgh, writing (and receiving) handwritten thank you notes, traveling, loving and appreciating what I have, baking cookies with my grandma and aunts, hula hooping, getting 90 minute massages, writing blog posts and articles, running around playgrounds with my niece and nephew, and hosting dinner parties.

Also, my husband Nik and cat Sgt. Pepper keep me laughing on the regular. :)

How and when did you figure that out?

I’ve experienced depression several times in my life, most recently when I was 25 years old. I’d say one of the good things about feeling completely helpless and miserable is that when you do feel happy again, it feels nothing short of a miracle.

When the fog of depression finally began to clear for me, I promised myself that I would pay close attention during the times I was feeling truly happy, so that I could make an effort to add more of those activities to my life.

nothing short of a miracleOnce you discovered what makes you happy, did you find it easy to make that part of your life more frequently? Why or why not?

Having the specific goal of 100 interviews on my blog, Yinzpiration, kept me in the practice of meeting new people. Nothing like a little structure/discipline!

In terms of traveling, it helped when I decided to join my husband as an entrepreneur. We both value having flexible schedules above almost everything else, and it made it possible to go on a two month cross-country road trip last summer.

I make “happy” activities a priority in my schedule, and I keep up with my self-care (exercise, meditation, massage) so that burnout remains at bay. I feel like scheduling time for having fun is just as important as paying the bills or going to the dentist.

Are there any “shoulds” you’ve had to let go of in order to pursue your happiness?

In my early 20s I felt like I was supposed to obtain a graduate level degree, but I was frustrated that I wasn’t attracted to a particular field or program. Finally, I talked myself into pursuing one at Carnegie Mellon University.

Luckily, the universe had other plans for me and I ended up bombing the GRE.  As embarrassing as my big test fail is, I now know it happened for a reason. I’m definitely glad I did not get a degree just for the sake of getting a degree! And once I stopped being so hard on myself for not having a set of letters after my name, new and interesting opportunities began to appear.

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  1. Sebastian says:

    I’ve also dealt with depression for several years of my life. And I agree with you. Dealing with such dark times makes you realize how precious every single day is.

    I have the feeling that some times happiness is misinterpreted by a short moment of being high out of a pleasant experience.

    Have you ever thought that being happy is the same as being at peace with yourself? And that achieving this level of peace every single day is possible?
    Sebastian’s most recent post: Oct 10

    • Miss Britt says:

      “I have the feeling that some times happiness is misinterpreted by a short moment of being high out of a pleasant experience.

      Have you ever thought that being happy is the same as being at peace with yourself? And that achieving this level of peace every single day is possible?”

      Absolutely! I describe my version of happiness in my book as peace – a peace that comes from knowing you’re on the right track.

    • Thanks for your thoughtful comment, Sebastian.

      I agree with Britt, happiness is a place of peace.

      I get this feeling often when I am mindful. For example, sometimes I take a moment just to appreciate my soft sheets and warm bed. Just laying in bed and being present for a few extra moments in the morning can feel so wonderful.

  2. Emily says:

    Love this interview, and I love Kate. And you are so right, Britt, Kate really DOES know everyone!

    Great feature. xo
    Emily’s most recent post: Monday Motivation: Love is a verb.

  3. martymankins says:

    I like this interview with Kate. She seems to be very grounded (and obviously very happy)
    martymankins’s most recent post: Music Monday: PIXIES TOUR 2014

  4. Meeting new people keeps a lot of people happy, I’d say. Human interaction is something that keeps many us going throughout each day. Many days at my job are spent on the phone so the more pleasant I can be and the people on the other end, the better my days are.
    Janine @ BreathOfOptimism’s most recent post: Positive Life Quotes – October 13, 2013

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