Letting Go and Becoming the CEO of Your Own Happiness

“Our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world as being able to remake ourselves.” ~Gandhi

Ten years ago I was a young executive working in a fairly high-profile job at a big entertainment studio.  I had an office with a view, a gorgeous convertible, and a huge wardrobe. I was invited to fantastic parties every week.

From the outside, it seemed like I had it all. I was convinced that I did have it all, because everyone was telling me how great it was. It was the life I’d been conditioned to strive for.

The truth was, I was incredibly empty and unhappy inside. I wondered almost daily what was wrong with me. Instead of pausing to try to figure out the source of my grief, I kept going, convinced that it would go away on its own if I just stayed the course. 

I was grateful for what I’d accomplished, but happy was another story. I was spending long days in what was a toxic work environment. I spent much of my time dodging people with negative energy and watching kind, capable people around me quit because of the stress or disappear due to office politics. I found myself laying low and wishing I were somewhere else.

I thought one of the answers to filling the emptiness I was feeling in my life was lots of stuff. I shopped like crazy. I was making pretty good money for the first time in my life and was on a mad mission to find the next thing to make me happy. It wasn’t working.

I went to parties, polluted myself with too many cocktails, and burned the candle at both ends thinking that I was creating a rockin’ life for myself, and that somehow, some way, it would lead to happiness.

Yes, there were some good times, but it seemed that no matter what I did, I still felt empty—like I was simply existing rather than living.

One night I was awakened by what felt like my heart pounding out of my chest. I was shaking, in a cold sweat, and could barely breathe. My pillow was soaked. I sprung up and realized that what was happening was a physical reaction to all the stress and the downward spiral I was in.

My body was finally telling me to wake up or face serious consequences. 

It was that next morning that my inner voice spoke up, loudly, and opened my mind to see that I was the only one who had the power to change my situation—and my perception.

I’m a creative person. Why wasn’t I using that creative side to create the world I truly wanted to live in? I realized that morning that I was a major player in what was happening in my life, because I’d been allowing it to continue.

I decided in that moment to do whatever I could to make the changes I needed to make to start living the authentic, happy life I wanted to be living. I needed to get my priorities straight, and I needed to stop trying to please everyone else. It was time to let go of all the false ideas I’d been holding on to about what my life was supposed to look like.

I left the job. I had nothing else lined up; I just left and trusted that life would create an opportunity for me that would be a perfect fit. I dropped all negative and draining obligations, gave away much of the stuff, and dove into every book and lecture I could find about transition, metaphysics, and happiness.

I forgave myself. I channeled all my newfound energy into learning, taking responsibility, and creating a better life.

I couldn’t believe how quickly my world turned around and all that I’d been missing. I shifted my focus away from material things and away from worrying about the opinions of other people. I began to look inward to discover how I could be of better service to myself and to the world.

The more I took action to create necessary changes, the more I began to love my life, and myself. 

One of the first things I learned during this process was that for so long I’d been living externally rather than internally. I was paying way too much attention to what was on the outside—the stuff, the people, the projects, and my crazy, unrealistic schedule.

I was rarely, if ever, checking in with myself to tune in to what my needs truly were or what my heart was telling me. My spirit was completely neglected.

I started spending time connecting with nature, practicing yoga, and tuning in to all the love I was so lucky to have in my life.Through this, I discovered what some of my true passions were.  Learning to turn inward was one of the greatest gifts I’d ever received.

Speaking of receiving, that was the next lesson I learned. Prior to this positive shift, I was so caught up in all that junk that I was mostly closed off to receiving all the good that was around me.

I was going through life completely missing the joy and grace that can be found in little things. I was taking for granted all the love and miracles in my life, and not practicing nearly enough gratitude or forgiveness.  

Once I slowed down and started practicing what I was learning, I began to find more joy in life than I’d ever thought possible. I started to feel peaceful and full, and reached a point of clarity that brought me to big answers I was looking for both personally and professionally. I finally realized that my most important job was being the CEO of my own happiness.

Doors began to open that brought me to places I wouldn’t have seen or even imagined before. I started my own business and began to use my creative side to help people grow their businesses and make improvements in their own lives. It was a great feeling to be of service, to live with purpose, and to finally be out of my own way.

Today, my life is happy and full, and I handle challenging times in a much different way. Listening to my inner voice, slowing down, releasing, and letting things happen in their own time has leveled the playing field.

Here are five steps to help you become the CEO of your own happiness:

1. Put yourself at the top of your list.

This means tuning in to what your heart is telling you on a regular basis, caring for your physical and spiritual health, and slowing down enough to allow yourself to receive and enjoy life. Doing this will enable you to offer your best self to others.

2. Set boundaries.

This means saying “no” more often than you may be used to. Saying “yes” to obligations that are not a fit for your emotional fitness or priorities will only lead you to feeling over-extended and stressed out.

3. Approach each day from a mindset of positivity and gratitude.

Work to get into this place as soon as you wake up each morning. This leads to endless possibility. Focus on positive thoughts and keep an eye out for open doors, open arms, and open minds.

4. Look closely on a regular basis at what you're tolerating.

Ask yourself if there are changes you can make to reduce or eliminate things or relationships in your life that are draining your energy and dimming your light.

5. Remember that the people you spend the most time with have a huge impact on the quality of your life.

Choose carefully and then spend lots of time with them, especially the ones who make you laugh.

The truth is that it takes work and practice on a daily basis to create a truly happy life.  The good news is that the more you practice, the easier it will come. If you’re willing to commit, you’ll discover that joy, love, and inner-peace are among our most beautiful of renewable resources.

Photo by Luiz Gustavo Leme

About Kristi Blicharski

Kristi Blicharski is a happiness and success catalyst working to help others to create joy and realize a dream life. She’s a speaker, writer, and empowerment teacher who offers online courses, a free Empower Your Day ebook, vlog and more at:

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  • @Kristi, nice post, but the fact is that what worked for you will probably not work for everyone. You managed to make a good living. For most people when it comes to making ends meet quitting jobs to follow your heart’s calling may not be a wise choice o fill the void within.

  • Mbw13

    Great post!  I especially agree with number 5, spend more time with the people who make you laugh 🙂 Laughter feeds your soul.

  • I love this: “keep an eye out for open doors, open arms, and open minds.” And I agree, it was a major turning point for me when I realized that I’m the one responsible for my own happiness. I wish I could say everything’s perfect now, but at the least it’s way better than it used to be!

  • Buddhachick

    Great post. I think we are often all on autopilot because we are afraid to see what happens when we stop. I have been better with the slowing down but still need to work on the not living for others but for myself.

  • Solartatcutie

    Wow when I was reading this I thought it was written about me. My business partner helped in me leaving b/c I thought things would change if I hung in there. It has been a tough time in letting go & not beating myself up about the experience. I haven’t found my confidence to believe in myself & get it! It is a struggle for sure!

  • I loved this and, honestly, it couldn’t have come into my life at a better point. 2012 is around the corner and I’m looking forward to leaving behind a lot of baggage from 2011 and, just as number 5 says, I’m looking forward to spending more time with my friends that make me laugh the most : ) Thanks for the great post!

  • Shannon

    Simple truths to aspire to live by. This short piece is packed with good advice that is attainable. I’m going to post this one in a prominent place. Thanks!

  • I swear this website is for me personally 🙂 Love, Love, LOVE the articles here! I’d love to work for place like this! Much love xxx

  • BellaTerra66

    I agree with Samar.  If we have a spouse, and especially children, and we’re living paycheck to paycheck, putting ourselves first and leaving our job, without a better job waiting, is not wise.  I stayed in the same job — a great-paying job I did not like — for over 25 years, because I had a spouse and children. (But I did have some really great times and met some great people.  It wasn’t that I was absolutely miserable everyday.  But the job was not at all a good fit for my personality type.)  Once the children were adults and self sufficient, I divorced my husband and retired from my job.  🙂  NOW I have a very nice pension, I can put myself first, I have slowed down, I listen to myself.  AND this post of Lori’s was beneficial this morning in at least two ways:  I exercise almost every morning with a great group of women who I like but I don’t want to be real friends with.  After exercise this morning, everyone went for coffee, and I didn’t go because, well, I already know well that their conversation isn’t going to be interesting at all.  And I felt bad for doing that.  Well, I don’t feel bad anymore.  🙂  Also for the past year, I’ve been thinking about moving to a different state and a major city, where I know no one.  I find that a little scary at my age (over 60) — starting all over again.  But, ya know, Lori, I think I’m going to do it.  It’s such a strong pull within me to leave here and to go there.  [I’ll let you know if I do it.  🙂  May be another couple of years before I can make the move.  :-)]

  • Not searching for Happiness

    I don’t think there is anything wrong with having a huge wardrobe, a convertible (if it’s even a big deal) and going to awesome parties every week or 5 times a week. You can have all the above with the people that will make you laugh.

  • Kristi

    Thank you! So glad you found it helpful!  Wishing you an amazing 2012! 🙂

  • Kristi

    Really glad you found it relatable!  Be good to yourself & know that your journey will lead you to amazing places.  

  • Kristi

    Hi Samar ~ Thank you! Absolutely. Everyone is different & in sharing my own journey, I can only hope to inspire others who are experiencing similar situations. We all must make decisions based on what’s right for us as individuals, but it can definitely be helpful to hear stories from others and take away the parts that are helpful. Wishing you joy! 

  • Kristi

    Thanks Bella! I’m happy you found parts of the post helpful – that’s what it’s all about. =)  I’m also happy that you’re feeling great about spreading your wings!  Love to you!

  • Anonymous

    Hi Bella!

    I saw my name in here so I thought I’d pop in. I didn’t actually write this post, but I’m glad it was helpful to you! How exciting that you’re thinking of moving to a different city. Congrats on your new adventure. =)


  • An excellent post,and food for thought.

    I’ve been reading a lot of inspirational stuff, this year, since I became unemployed in August 2010, but especially since I broke my ankle, last May.

    As much as I have been thinking of picking up, & moving to Texas, I don’t feel able to just “trust that life would create an opportunity for me that would be a perfect fit” once I, and the 2 cats, got there.  

    I just can’t afford to just “Pick up & Go” without a new job lined up, and especially not until I’m recovered from my ankle.

    Even so, I’ve bookmarked this essay.

  • i share EXACTLY the same experience, thoughs and feelings. am a little behind the process than you but am on my way out of the corporate too!

  • Love this post! Great pearls of wisdom from life’s experiences and lessons…. ones I know all to well! While I may face challenges, starting my day with a gratitude journal, getting out in nature as often as possible and removing energy vampires from my life have been key.

    Life is too short to be led around by the nose by things, circumstances and people that do not honor you.

  • lifeprobabilities

    Sounds so familiar. 
    I left my well paid and others” dream work three weeks ago. Now I am at the process of transforming into freelance writer, but before all that I am also trying to be come the CEO of my happiness 🙂
    Thanx for the post!

  • I would say, I have just started my journey. I am a 32 year old designer and have never beleived in myself, as a good person or anything special, even though I have “everything” I thought I wanted growing up. When the more I go down this spiritual path, I am finding that I need to loose everything to move on. My journey is now a year on and I have become more patient and willing to help anyone, I try and smile at everyone and say thankyou to green traffic lights. Life seems more easier will a little more effort. I thought it was “love”, or a relationship I was after to make me happy. But I know now what I have to do, to enter a second stage of growing up…. I think we are all in the same boat, some are ready to accept they can be better, but it can be too much effort to make that change. We all know what we need to do….

  • I can relate well to the contents of this article.  I am learning to become the master of my life, to develop more inner peace and inner confidence each day as well as by being grateful with myself and my life. 

  • marie

    I’m glad i’ve stumbled this post when i needed it the most!! having a high paying job is not everything in the world. for the past few months, i’ve realized i’m just spinning my wheels, so many things to do but not getting anywhere! I’d be very honest that money is one of the reasons why i keep doing the things that i don’t really see myself doing. But now everything has taken its toll on me. i’ve lost a lot of weight due to stress and pressure. No material things can compensate for all the emotional and mental torture i’ve been going through. Living my life for my monster boss and pleasing so many people is unbearable. i hope i will finally have enough courage to take a stand and take risk. it’s time to take care of myself before anybody else. Thank you for the very inspiring and eye-wakening post!!

  • Kristin

    What a great post – so beautifully stated! I’m working to accomplish #1 these days. I’ve not given myself enough care and attention in the past. I have a very demanding job but I find that when I approach the day from the perspective of “What things can I do to make myself comfortable and happy today?” it makes it much easier to bear and I in turn have much more to give.

  • Abhimanyu Bagga

    how to stay happy when u r not happy with the things going on and u cant do much about it?
    and those problems r hurting my ego and self respect causing me to be under confident?
    any help here??