Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

If a lukewarm coffee at Starbucks or being cut off on the freeway ruins your entire day, that signals to me a deeper issue. We all have bad days, but a happy person isn’t going to get their feathers ruffled by a little mishap.

Our attitude determines the type of day we’re going to have. But when you aren’t feeling happy inside, it’s incredibly difficult to “just have a positive attitude”. I know, because for a while, I was that unhappy, negative person.

Negativity began to consume me while working at a previous job. An environment that was once fun and lighthearted slowly transitioned into one that gave me major anxiety.

Once I started to feel unhappy in my career, it spread like a virus to the rest of my life.

I stopped sleeping well at night. I was constantly sick to my stomach. I had nightmares about work that plagued me throughout the week. I became edgy with my boyfriend and picked fights for no reason. Not to mention, I literally gave myself a bald spot due to stress. In other words, I was miserable.

My boss at the time was toxic for me. Any time he’d stop by my desk, my stomach would grow fiery with anxiety and frustration would tighten my chest. Even though he liked me as an employee, I just couldn’t handle his managing style. He meant well, but he was a control freak that couldn’t help but micromanage.

Being a sensitive person myself, I didn’t do well with such a high strung boss. I knew it was only a matter of time until he’d be stressing about the next “fire drill”. Some people could handle it and let it roll off their back, no problem. “That’s just the way he is.”

Well, that didn’t fly with me. I tried, though. I thought maybe I was just “too sensitive” and needed to get over it. Maybe I could learn to deal with him like the rest of my team.

I tried different meditations and breathing exercises and CBD capsules. Nothing worked. I was expelling so much energy every day trying to force myself to feel okay, when at my core, I was unhappy and frustrated.

At this point, my only option was to leave. I started applying for new jobs in my spare time and doing phone interviews in my car at work. I knew if I didn’t get out soon, I risked deteriorating my health, my happiness, and my relationships.

I finally decided to let go and trust.

One night, I came home feeling particularly defeated. I had just gotten rejected from another job I’d really, really wanted.

On this particular night, I was home alone with our cat. I remember collapsing onto the hardwood floor and crying while she meowed and rubbed her little head on my crossed arms.

This moment stands out because it was a turning point. It was the moment I finally let go of control. I let go of how I thought this scenario needed to look. I knew I’d been putting in my best effort. I just had to trust that something would work out for me.

In a meeting at work the next day, my boss pulled out a calendar and gave us “blackout dates” — busy periods of time that he wanted us to avoid taking off. There were so many dates that were off limits. It was the last straw for me.

I drove home that night, filled with anger and disdain. I was officially over it. This job was making me sick and ruining my life. Could I actually quit? I thought through my options. I knew I had enough in my savings to get me by for a couple months without an income. If need be, I could find an hourly position while I job hunted.

So, I did it. I put in my two weeks notice. It was the best, scariest, and most freeing thing I’ve ever done.

Take your happiness into your own hands.

Once I quit, it’s like I put a signal out to the Universe that I was serious about moving on with my life. My unemployment lasted about a month before I landed a new job at my dream company.

Seriously, I know this is cliche, but life is short. I know it’s not always easy to just up and quit your job if you’re unhappy. I know people have more responsibility than I do with children relying on them. I understand there aren’t always many job options out there.

But, here are some questions you can ask yourself:

What can you change today that will make you happier? Can you change your attitude about a situation? The people you’re spending time with? The way you’re eating? How you’re spending your free time? Could someone watch your babies while you job hunt?

Living a life riddled with anxiety, unhappiness, and stress is not the way we were intended to spend our time here on this planet.

We all have responsibilities. We all experience stress. Life isn’t always rainbows and butterflies. It’s not meant to be. Our most beautiful growth comes from the difficult times. But when it’s your last day on Earth, what do you hope you’ll be able to say about your life?

When I’m at a crossroads, I like to picture myself at 100-years-old. I try to make decisions that I can look back at when I’m an old lady and say, “I took my life into my own hands! I did the scary things. I tried new things. No regrets. I never settled.