People spend a huge part of their lives at work and this will only increase with our ageing workforce. With this in mind, being happy at work should be high on your list of priorities.

It’s important that you have a work environment where you not only continue to learn and develop skills, but you also feel happy and undertake meaningful and rewarding work.

It may surprise you just how much in control you are of your own happiness. Three factors enabling this happiness are self-confidence, optimism and self-reliance.

Here are some tips on how to achieve these at work:

Take charge of your own development

According to the Randstad World of Work Report 2010, most employees value training and development opportunities over competitive salaries and remuneration.

While your company may have a training and development programme in place, is it relevant to you? If not, speak up. For example, if you are a fantastic public speaker but lack IT skills, ensure you get yourself enrolled in an IT-related course rather than one focused on presentation skills.

If your workplace is not offering training, do your own research and build a case for why you should receive extra training. For example, how will this course improve the way you work? Will it help you increase your productivity? You will also need to be realistic about the cost of these types of courses against your company’s budget.

Develop good relations with your boss

One of the top reasons employees cite for leaving a company is a poor relationship with their boss.

Make sure you have an effective two-way working relationship with your boss and identify each others’ strengths and weaknesses. An ideal working relationship is one where you both complement each others’ skills and style. Learn what impedes or facilitates this working relationship and take actions to make it work effectively for the both of you.

If your boss micro-manages, there are some things you can do to manage the day-to-day mechanics of your relationship. This includes periodically sending your boss a checklist or memo on your work updates and checking off your accomplishments as you go.

If you feel you require some guidance, ask for it. Getting your boss to critique your work is a sign of being engaged and committed to doing well in the company.

That said, ask for feedback on a regular basis and not just at performance reviews. This is an opportunity for you to improve faster and also shows your boss that you are engaged.

Clear desk, clear mind

To an extent, how you feel toward your work and how you function at work is determined by the state of your desk. A messy desk hinders you from working efficiently and effectively.

Create systems for items you use most often. Learn how to organise your paperwork and regularly sort out your work surface area. You will waste less time on things that don’t deserve much of your time, such as finding that memo your boss sent you or stationery for that very important management meeting you have in two minutes. An organised desk allows you to focus on productive work.

Learn to compartmentalise

Just as you should leave your work problems at work, make a conscientious effort to leave your personal problems at home. Some people use the time commuting to work to listen to music or read a book to de-stress before going to the office as well as on their way home.

Avoid the office gossip

When lunchtime conversations with co-workers start to turn negative, you know it’s time to politely excuse yourself from the scene. Certainly, business and office politics go hand-in-hand but instead of getting caught up in the drama, focus on your own role and how you are contributing to the success of the company.

Positive people are often successful people

Making an effort to stay positive is key to being happy. Happier people are more likely to be satisfied with their jobs, help others out and in turn, receive more support and cooperation from colleagues.

Finally, when the going gets tough, take a deep breath and smile. You may be surprised at how maintaining a lighter mood can help keep things in perspective.