I wake up with a pit in my stomach. My shift starts in an hour. I check Facebook on my phone: another day that everyone seems happier than me. On the way to work, I daydream about the books I long to write, all the things I’ll someday say to the world.

I walk in and punch my number into the clock. I play a game with myself to see how long I can go without checking the time. My record is 12 minutes.

This could be a page out of my journal from 2011. I was taking a year off from college to “figure out my life,” and the only job I could get was bagging groceries in a grocery store. My anxiety, stress, and sadness from work bled over into “real life” and made me a bummer to be around.

"In life, one has a choice to take one of two paths: to wait for some special day--or to celebrate each special day." - Rasheed Ogunlaru

Since then, I’ve been able to find work I love and I’ve learned that a lot of what makes most jobs totally and utterly suck isn’t so much the physical or mental labor of the job itself, but it’s everything that the job represents in the life story we’re hoping to write.

When I worked at the grocery store there were plenty of people who were living out their own versions of success. But to me, the job represented that I was a “failure” who couldn’t finish college in 4 years.

You can absolutely alter how you view this chapter of your life story. You can practice gratitude.

We call gratitude a practice because you must practice it.

During my grocery store days, I would repeat something Jay-Z says in his verse in Kanye West’s song Power, “You’ve got to go through pain in order to become you.”

It’s true you hate your job. But you can be grateful for that strong feeling. Strong feelings are a compass that you can guide you. You might think you hate your boss’ face, but do you actually hate your boss because he hasn’t given you clear metrics of how to succeed in your work? This is a clue for your future.

Gratitude is a way of seeing the world where you take stock of what you like and what you’re learning instead of merely cataloguing all that you hate and all that you lack.

Being grateful for a job you hate allows you to slow down and accept the unwritten pages of creating your purpose in life. In the hero’s journey of your life, perhaps this job you hate is just part of the exposition, awakening you to the fact that you do crave purpose and meaning in your work.

You can be grateful for your desire to change and grow. You can be grateful for your ambition to someday have a job you don’t hate.

By applying the practice of gratitude to this job you hate, you can begin to write the chapter of your life where you finally find your own brand of success and happiness. It starts with a paper and a pen, and a simple sentence, “I’m grateful for my job because…”


Kassy Lee helps twenty-somethings who struggle with finding real work to match their passion discover and create a vocation that serves their soul and sustains their financial independence. She's also a published poet and world traveler currently living in Beijing. She offers a free audio course on gaining confidence to go after your creative career.

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This article is part of our series on the theme of Gratitude.

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