Book Review: The Happiness Of Pursuit

The Happiness of Pursuit: Finding the Quest that Will Bring Purpose to Your Life
Author: Chris Guillebeau, Published September 2014, Random House Harmony 

If you’re looking for a little inspiration to dream again, to think big and then take action to make things happen, The Pursuit of Happiness is a great place to start.
Chris Guillebeau’s subtitle promises a lot. Quests sound like something from a whimsical airy tale, not something in reach of by every day people. As goal-oriented list maker, I was drawn to the stories hinted at on the back cover: ordinary people on extraordinary quests, expanding their happiness and clarifying their purpose.
The book was sparked by the author’s own travel-focused quest to visit all the countries in the world. On his travels, he met others also undertaking sweeping passion projects. This book explores not only the quests and questers themselves; it also includes insights into why working towards a big goal – a dream! – makes people happier, why documentation is important to overall success, and what happens once a quest is finished.
I found The Happiness of Pursuit to be an inspiring read. Most of the quests are not work-related: there’s no documentation here of someone moving up the corporate ladder. The stories are small and human, driven by individual interests, circumstances and talents. The possibility in each story kicked my imagination into overdrive. It is possible to do amazing things in small, incremental steps over a period of time.
Since reading this book, the framework I use to think about my hobbies has shifted. A quest is by its nature, BIG, requiring commitment. What am I willing to commit to doing, big or small? On the smaller end, I’ve committed to knitting a holiday sweater a la Molly Weasley for my son every year. That may not seem like a quest at first glance, but it makes thinking about a new project, working to be sure it’s done by Christmas and imagining decades worth of sweaters seem more important somehow.  My wife and I are going to try to see all the covered bridges of New England – ten down so far! Mapping, photographing and documenting the bridges isn’t something that will be done any time soon, but it’s fun and we have a purpose in exploring a little bit more.
Are you on a quest? I’d love to hear more about your extraordinary, ordinary pursuits.