By Greg Dardis | Consulting Column

Fifty-three percent of Americans are unhappy at work, according to The Conference Board think tank. Yet most of those people are not able to quit and start anew.

The good news: there are simple ways to boost your happiness at work. Workplace fulfillment has more to do with a person’s approach than a title. It’s not a matter of having the perfect job, but rather the perfect mindset.

Here are four steps you can put into practice:

Improve a relationship with a colleague

Having a meaningful connection with a colleague makes it easier to show up every morning. It gives you something to look forward to each day, boosting your sense of being on a team and your loyalty to your employer.

Seize on common ground as a conversation starter – perhaps a sighting at the same golf course or grocery store. Walk with a colleague during your lunch break. Thank a colleague for his effort on a project. Help a colleague with a challenging situation; research indicates that helping others can significantly boost our happiness.

The goal is not to turn a colleague into a best friend. But feeling a bond with a colleague will go a long way in boosting your enjoyment at the office.

Manage your time better

Look at how you spend your day and consider better ways to structure it. Think outside the box. Would your 9 to 5 work better as an 8 to 4? Could you set aside one day for meetings and block off the others? Could you set aside one hour for email and block off the others? Or could you alter your approach to email so it consumes less of your time?

Look at what bogs you down and try to re-jig it. You might be surprised how supportive your supervisor is when you propose a change for the sake of better time management. And you may inspire your colleagues to do the same.

Refrain from negativity

When you let yourself dwell on negative components of your job, they become magnified in your mind. For instance, if you’re on the look-out for a colleague’s irritating habit, you’ll start to see it more and your tolerance for it will dwindle.

Avoid gossip, which feeds a negative mindset. Constructive criticism – the kind that comes with good intentions and brings about change – is a useful tool. Idle gossip is not.

Every job has its challenges: deal with them, don’t dwell on them. Instead, look for the positive. You’ll operate with a healthier, happier mindset.

Engage in professional development

A surefire way to be reinvigorated at the office is to participate in ongoing education.

We hear from clients whose workplace fulfillment and confidence surges after receiving our training, either it’s our presentation and image skills class or business writing. Professional development enables you to shake out of the status quo, reach your potential and imagine new possibilities. Everyone around you will feel the ripple effects.

Combined, these four steps are powerful: improve a relationship with a colleague, manage your time better, refrain from negativity and participate in professional development. Try them out today to be happier at work.

Greg Dardis is the CEO of Dardis Communications, based in Coralville. For more information, visit www.dardiscommunications.com.