Once upon a time, I attended an amazing instructional technology workshop called the Arkansas Technology Institute. I picked up a ton of great classroom technology skills and training strategies at this workshop, and I also made some life-long friends and professional bonds. One bit of lagniappe that I also came away with is the phrase, “Pull Your Own Happiness Wagon.” It was such a great workshop that I eventually returned to coach future classes through the organization for a couple of years.
During the “norming process” at the beginning of each workshop, “Pull Your Own Happiness Wagon” was introduced to participants to mean that we are each responsible for taking care of our own needs. Whether it’s bathroom breaks, snack attacks, or dressing in layered clothing to accommodate for conference rooms of varying temperatures, nobody is going to take the actions necessary to make you happy other than yourself. That’s not to imply that the hosts of the workshop were in any unaccommodating. On the contrary, we were taken care of very well, but we had to ask for what we wanted.
I’ve learned that life works very much the same way. You don’t get what you don’t ask for. Nobody is going to fix something for me that they don’t know is broken. I don’t take this phrase to mean, “go it alone.” Instead, I see it more as, “only you can initiate resolution to problems you identify.”
Much like we have the See It – Own It – Solve It – Do It system at work, pulling one’s own happiness wagon works similarly. If you’re dissatisfied with something, change it!