The Pursuit of Happiness

Author Kristi Ling’s three-step plan to creating a life of lasting joy, abundant energy and radical bliss


Life can hit hard sometimes. A lost job or relationship, family drama, illness or death—these are all things that may take the joy out of living. You might wake up one day and wonder how your life took a wrong turn or an unpleasant detour. Or maybe you never really felt alive and vibrant. You may ask yourself, “What is happiness, and how do I achieve it?”

Kristi Ling, empowerment coach and author of Operation Happiness, shares some wisdom and inspiration for crafting a happy, soul-freeing, passionate life.

What led you to write the book?

I’d always struggled to be happy until my early 30s. Then there was a point when I became so stressed, unhappy and unwell that I hit a wall. I knew if I didn’t do something to change, I’d be caught in a downward spiral.

I quit my job at that point and went on a mission—to decode happiness—that lasted several years. Then when I finally experienced a huge shift after discovering that happiness is actually a skill we can learn to do, I knew that idea needed to be shared. Happiness really wasn’t being talked about in this way.
So that turned into blogging, coaching and public speaking. Things kept expanding to the point where I knew it needed to be a book, which led to writing Operation Happiness.

What do you hope people learn?

The central mission is to get people to re-think happiness—to see it as not just something we choose or feel but as a skill we can learn, practice and become good at … if we’re willing. Learning that happiness is something we must actively do every day is a huge shift.

I’ve put the most powerful practices, habits and concepts I’ve learned about creating authentic happiness into the book, as well as the story of my own personal journey. It was an adventure to write, and I’m excited to share it.

Is there a basic premise to decoding happiness?

Happiness is not just a choice, a feeling or a state of being. It’s actually something we do, and it’s a multifaceted skill. Think of it as an activity that we have to take part in daily in order to create it and keep it sustainable. The key is to actively participate in bringing it about, rather than waiting for it to come on its own, which it doesn’t.

What isn’t happiness?

Well I always say, contrary to what we’ve all heard: Happiness is not a choice. It only begins with one. Like all choices, it must be followed with action to make it a reality.
Happiness is also not something you search for or “find.” Happy people don’t find happiness like you’d find a penny on the ground. They make it happen with purpose and dedication.

How would you advise a person going through a personal loss, such as financial or relationship loss or health crisis, about being happy?

Even the happiest people are going to go through great loss, grief and transition, as it’s part of life. When we learn the skill of happiness and how to cultivate those things in our life that support it, those tools and practices will also be there to support us during the challenging times. There are many things that can be tremendously helpful, and it all begins with a foundation of self-compassion, self-care and self-love.

Is happiness the same for everybody?

There are some elements of the foundation for happiness that are universal, such as gratitude, self-love, compassion, connectedness and forgiveness, and there are practices and mindsets to support expanding each of those in ways that can significantly support greater happiness.  There are also parts of happiness that are different for everyone, such as things we’re passionate about or those things that bring us joy and peace. Getting to know what those things are for you and then deliberately bringing them into your life more consistently is part of the skill of happiness.

Besides reading your book, what advice would you give people who are looking for a happier life?

Take responsibility for your happiness. Don’t depend on other people, things or circumstances to make you happy. When you take the wheel of your happiness and own your power, amazing things happen. Approach your happiness like a full-time job.

Does a person have to dramatically change their lifestyle to go from unhappy to happy?

No. Small steps can make a tremendous difference if they’re the right steps.


Visit for more information on Kristi Ling’s book.