The Happiness of Pursuit: Finding the Quest That Will Bring Purpose to Your Life
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A remarkable book that will both guide and inspire, The Happiness of Pursuit reveals how anyone can bring meaning into their life by undertaking a quest.
When he set out to visit all of the planet’s countries by age thirty-five, compulsive goal seeker Chris Guillebeau never imagined that his journey’s biggest revelation would be how many people like himself exist – each pursuing a challenging quest. And, interestingly, these quests aren’t just travel-oriented. On the contrary, they’re as diverse as humanity itself. Some involve exploration; others the pursuit of athletic or artistic excellence; still others a battle against injustice or poverty or threats to the environment.
Everywhere that Chris visited he found ordinary people working toward extraordinary goals, making daily down payments on their dream. These “questers” included a suburban mom pursuing a wildly ambitious culinary project, a DJ producing the world’s largest symphony, a young widower completing the tasks his wife would never accomplish, and a teenager crossing an entire ocean alone - as well as a do-it-yourselfer tackling M.I.T.’s computer-science course, a nerd turning himself into real-life James Bond, and scores of others writing themselves into the record books.
The more Chris spoke with these strivers, the more he began to appreciate the direct link between questing and long-term happiness -- how going after something in a methodical way enriches our lives -- and he was compelled to complete a comprehensive study of the phenomenon and extract the best advice. In The Happiness of Pursuit he draws on interviews with hundreds of questers, revealing their secret motivations, their selection criteria, the role played by friends and family, their tricks for solving logistics, and the importance of documentation.
Equally fascinating is Chris’ examination of questing’s other side, including questers’ acute awareness of mortality, their struggle against monotony, and their wistful feelings once a quest has succeeded. What happens after the summit is climbed, the painting hung, the endurance record broken, the “at risk” community saved?
A book that challenges each of us to take control – to make our lives be about something while at the same time remaining clear-eyed about the commitment -- The Happiness of Pursuit will inspire readers of every age and aspiration. It’s a playbook for making your life count.
could probably find what I needed along the way. Then I’d come home and prepare to travel again. More countries down, more countries to plan for a future trip. I remembered what Nate said about walking across America: All he had to do was get up every morning and walk. In my case, all I had to do was get myself to the Central African Republic. Meanwhile, the struggles that Nate experienced on his walk across America were pretty much what he expected: loneliness, the fear of not having a place
much of the year was devoted to planning the greatest family excursion yet: a three-year, seventeen-thousand-mile cycling journey from Alaska to the southernmost point of Argentina. Friends on Holiday … or Maybe Not Every year, a tour company called the Adventurists produces a “Rickshaw Run” through India. It’s a multistage race conducted entirely in auto rickshaws, with up to forty different teams all hoping to raise money for charity and have a good time along the way. I heard from several
“It can be lonely and dispiriting doing everything yourself.” No doubt this is true, and Gary certainly couldn’t do everything himself—someone had to operate the bird scarer. But Gary was the tireless visionary who led the charge, year after year and through repeated failures. Without the team, the effort would have been in vain. Without the leader, there would have been no effort. The long, slow grind of working toward something is all about loving the process. If you don’t love the process,
their lives to something they believed in, sacrificing income and time (and sometimes more) to give all that they could. There’s an Adventure Waiting for You, Too Real-life adventure isn’t only about traveling the world (although many of this book’s stories do involve travel) nor is a quest always about leaving home (although it often involves breaking out of a comfort zone). Over the next two hundred–plus pages, you’ll encounter dozens of incredible stories. You’ll meet the people I’ve
undertook walking quests, attempting to cross entire countries. Nate trekked across America in seven and a half months, and Matt made it across Turkey in six. Yet when I asked them whether they focused more on process or achievement, their answers couldn’t be more different. Here’s Nate, who started in Maine and ended in San Francisco: I’m definitely not motivated by achievement. I just do what I like every day, and good things seem to happen as a result. I rarely thought about getting to San