The Happiness of Pursuit

The Happiness of Pursuit by Chris Guillebeau

Chris Guillebeau, whom I‘ve been following the last few years, has done it again. He’s the author of The Art of Non-Conformity, The $100 Startup, and overall pretty amazing guy. He produces World Domination Summit, where people get together in order to find out how to live a remarkable life in this conventional world. In his latest book, The Happiness of Pursuit: Finding the Quest That Will Bring Purpose to Your LifeChris talks about his own quest of visiting every single country in the world, and also encourages us to find our own quest.

What is a quest?
This is a concept I initially had a little difficulty with. According to Chris, “Quitting smoking, losing weight, or getting out of debt are all worthy pursuits, but they shouldn’t be a lifelong focus.”
Thankfully, he has set some criteria for quests.

  • A quest has a clear goal and a specific end point.
  • A quest requires sacrifice of some kind.
  • A quest is often driven by a calling or sense of mission
  • A quest requires a series of small steps and incremental progress toward the goal.

Chris’s quest was to visit every single country in the world (all 193 of them), by age 35. He completed it last year.

Many inspiring stories of people who’ve taken on different quests are featured in the book. The interesting thing is, this perspective —”If I didn’t try, I’d always wonder what might have happened”—showed up again and again, like Julie Johnson, blind woman who trained her own guide dog, and Matt Krause, who has walked across Turkey.

Some of my favourites are, Sasha Martin, who lives in Oklahoma, taken a quest to cook every meal from each country. I particularly love this example because it shows that your personal quest doesn’t necessarily have to cost thousands of dollars, or be in a grand scale, such as travelling around the world. Those are, of course, great quests and I would love to take on that myself someday, but I am also a big fan of doing what we can with the resources we have.  As a parent, I loved the idea of starting something right from home.

Chris tells us adventure and the quest is for everybody. Not too into travel? No problem. Meet Robyn Devine, who is on a quest to hand-knit 10,000 hats. This quest is still in progress. A quest can be a craft project, art, learning, or anything.

Another touching quest story is of Adam Warner, who has lost his beloved wife, and now on a quest to pursuit his late wife Meghan’s list of goals she wished to achieve.

Adam’s friends agree that his pursuit of Meghan’s goals has given him a sense of purpose, changing his life for the better. The blog originally started by Meghan is now updated by Adam. He went to Blue Jays game in Toronto, something Meghan wasn’t able to do before her illness rapidly progressed. He got more serious about running and completed the half marathon. He is —slowly—learning to sew and knit.

These inspiring stories of quests remind us that our lives are indeed very short, and we need to go after what really moves us.

I’m still searching for my own quest. I would like to say my quest is to publish my own book by age XX, but maybe that is not necessarily a quest? I don’t know. Although that is one of the things on *my list* and I’m not giving up on that, but I’d like to find my own quest. (Any suggestions welcome.)

Happiness of Pursuit

I was fortunate enough to receive an advanced copy of the book. See all the marks in the photo? This was a great read.

I also loved “dispatch” sections of the book, mini-essay or more personal stories from Chris’ travels. I’m going through a lot of “Growth Opportunity” personally right now, and the first dispatch of “Courage” especially resonated with me.

“Embracing new things often requires us to embrace our fears, however trivial they may seem.” You deal with fear not by pretending it doesn’t exist, but by refusing to give it decision-making authority.”

There are many, many inspiring stories in the book that will be sure to make you want to create your own quest. Make sure to grab a copy, and #FindThe Quest.