Happiness can open more doors than a great CV, writes Cassandra Gaisford.

Unhappy employees put so much energy into searching for new jobs, updating their CVs and pressing their suits but one of the best - and most overlooked - tools is attitude.

"Most of us feel trapped, not just through economic circumstance but through emotional paralysis. We've failed to recognise the latent talent that resides within each of us to really change our circumstances - that's the core driver of change," says Dr Martyn Newman, consulting psychologist for recruitment and human resources services company Randstad.

Newman urges people seeking to be happier at work to invest in what he terms their "emotional capital".

"Happiness is the kind of wealth that literally creates peace of mind.

"People with this kind of wealth are the real 'new rich'; they are emotional capitalists with the spending power to be at their best whatever the challenge," he says.

If your job is draining, this can prove challenging. It is hard to feel optimistic, resilient and inspired when you are depleted.

However, Viktor Frankl, an Austrian psychiatrist who survived the horrors of the Nazi death camps, also believes it is not the situation that defines and controls us but our attitudes and reactions.

Emotional and social skills are quite difficult to learn, says Newman, but they make the difference between those who really battle their way through the challenges of life and emerge on the other side stronger, more resilient and more productive as people; and those that really feel victimised and fall to pieces when challenged by life's vicissitudes.

"I call it the 'Snow White syndrome' and I think it affects all of us. We've all bitten at poison apples: life's not the way we want it to be; we're not at the job that we necessarily want to be at; and we go on to the counsellor's office and the story starts to sound quite familiar.

"It's that my parents really weren't good enough, never prepared me well enough, my teachers never really understood me, the boss I currently work for is a bit of bastard.

"We can all identify moments in our history that have sabotaged our success. It dawns on you the feeling you have inside yourself is that you're a bit like Snow White - you're kind of waiting for rescue.

"Someone to come and intervene, kiss you on both cheeks, wave a magic wand and take you by the hand. Then it dawns on you no one's coming. And that's a rude awakening."

In that moment, says Newman, you find people go in one of two directions. They either start to construct a story of victimisation - never got the breaks, never got the luck, never got the support they deserved - and as a consequence life becomes an unjust experience.

Or, people find something inside themselves that he calls emotional capital.

"This wealth of emotional resource that gets them up off that couch and out the door and they determine that from here on out they'll accept full responsibility for themselves and for authoring the chapters of the continuing book of their life."

Investing in your emotional skills sounds good in theory but when your happiness at work has hit rock bottom and you can't see any hope on the horizon, how does this work in reality?

Take Sharon, a young, single parent of two girls under 8.

"I have never been in such a terrible job in all my life," she says.

"I transferred to another branch to see if things work better there. Today was my first day and I came home in tears. The way the staff treat other staff is appalling.

"I have never worked in such a dysfunctional organisation. Once again, I am starting to lose confidence and feel stuck. I can't seem to help myself."

Taking control and proactively driving our levels of happiness involves acquiring a new mindset says Newman.

"It surprises all of us when we look at the research, the hard data, that 10 per cent of the circumstances of our lives determine our actual mood state and sense of wellbeing.

"About 50 per cent is determined by our genetic set point. So even for someone who is in difficult circumstances, there's at least 40 per cent within our own levels of wellbeing and happiness that we're in control of."

Here are some of his top tips to inject more capital into your emotional bank account:

* Be self-reliant. The emotional power to accept responsibility is the first step. Become more self-reliant by taking greater responsibility for your thoughts, feelings, and actions. Resist feeling like a victim.

Overcome anxiety by asking yourself: what do I need to gain greater control of, in order to get happier at work? What do I need to let go of?

Discover what matters most to you, and have the courage to believe in yourself, set goals, take concrete steps and make self-directed decisions. Accept personal responsibility for being the creative force in every area of your life.

* Be self-confident. Have the guts to face challenges and foster the courage to make changes without relying on the approval of others.

Build self-confidence by pinpointing areas of strength and capitalising on these. There's nothing more satisfying than excelling. Like and value who you are - work at accepting and respecting yourself.

Project self-assurance - "act as if". Fake it until you make it.

* Be optimistic. Always look on the bright side of life and sense opportunities even in the face of adversity. Focus on the big picture and your longer-term goals. Even if the task at hand is particularly daunting, view limitations as challenges to be overcome.

Looking at your situation positively will evoke feelings of triumph once these goals are achieved. Use the "act as if" principle to boost optimism by acting as if the world is conspiring to do you good. If you want a quality such as more happiness, act as if you already have it.

The impact this will have in the outer world in changing how other people see you and treat you will, in turn, help you to think about yourself differently.

* Be more resilient. Bounce back from adversity and overcome negative emotions by looking for the valuable benefit that will emerge from your current situation. See what is happening, not as a failure or terrible situation but as a lesson and opportunity for learning.

Put a positive spin on your current situation and don't take setbacks personally. Rather than focusing on negative emotions such as unhappiness, disappointment or fear, take positive action and focus on the concrete, specific tasks.

* Be passionate about what you do. Find something that deeply interests you and your state of mind will improve. Explore your discontent - identify what you're unhappy with, what you want to do better and what you would like to change.

Use your unhappiness, frustration or anger constructively - allow it to fuel the flames of passion and make a decision to try to make a difference and be the author of your own experience.

"Happiness comes from a flourishing mind. Essentially what we're talking about here is mental health," says Newman.

"The most effective skill for people to focus on each day to become the most effective you can be in work and in life is to develop peacefulness of mind. To do that you need to purge mental toxins, such as hate, anger or fear that poison your mind and prevent you from stabilising and becoming peaceful."

By taking positive control of her emotions, focusing on her preferred future and identifying the changes she's in control of, Sharon has been about to make changes incrementally.

She's dusted off her longer-term goal of working as a career counsellor, identifying opportunities within her current organisation to acquire the skills and experience she needs to systematically begin to work towards achieving that.

"I realised that this job does not define who I am. I needed to value who I am and determine who I really want to be. The things that upset me about my job have actually helped clarify what I'm passionate about and the elements of my work that make me really happy.

"Having gone through that experience has made me better able to help people in similar situations," she says.

Ironing your job-interview outfit may be quicker, but in 21 days, says Newman, people can cultivate new emotional habits and attitudes - ones that make them happier at work and in life.

It may not happen overnight, but with concentrated effort becoming happy at work can and will happen.