What I’ve Read Recently: The Pursuit of Happiness (REVIEW)

Miscellaneous Musings

HappinessOfPursuitBookReview

We are naturally drawn to the idea of quests; from ancient legends to the latest underdog flick to hit our screens, we naturally gravitate toward a “hero’s journey” model.

In Chris Guillebeau’s latest book, The Happiness of Pursuit, he shares the stories of many of his readers’ personal quests, including his own, in which he visited all of the countries in the world (all 193 of them) by age 35.

When we think of the “hero’s journey” model (a la Star Wars and Harry Potter), we think of these large, sweeping, epic quests. But The Happiness of Pursuit shows you that your quest (should you have one) doesn’t have to be made of stuff that constitutes a sweeping epic.

Having read all of Chris’s books, I can say that this was by far my favorite of the 3 that he’s written. When I first found his website, I pored over his journey. Being a travel junkie, I loved the idea of what he was doing. The book was a great insight into his journey: the things that went on behind the scenes. But I think I gravitated toward it the most because of the idea that having this quest gave him purpose. Sure, visiting all 193 countries was not the sole purpose of his life, but there was something there that resonated with me.

The journey gave him a(n unusual) routine. It gave him structure. While I loved his first book, The Art of Nonconformity, I didn’t take to it as quickly as I thought I might. Some of the language he used in the book put me off a little bit; he made it sound almost as if you didn’t need to go to the conventional route (i.e.: go to grad school, etc.) if you didn’t want to. While I appreciate the message, some of the language made it sound almost as if it was better not to. It didn’t seem to account for those of us in the grey area (at least in my view).

In a recent radio interview, Chris talked about how his second book, The $100 Startup was meant to show people that there are seemingly ordinary people who found financial freedom through unusual means, that such options are open to everyone. Again, great message, but to me, it sounded as if he was focusing a little too much on the entrepreneurial aspect of financial freedom. For those of us (like yours truly) who aren’t sure whether or not they want to be an entrepreneur, this book wasn’t my favorite.

But this one was. For those of you who did not follow his blog as he traipsed across all 193 countries, you may find the book a bit haphazard; by no means does Chris tell his entire story in chronological order. But his story is one that merely supplements the content and helps to emphasize certain points. The wide variety of people he spoke to and the diversity of the quests they undertook inspired me, and I hope it will inspire you. What I appreciated most about this book is perhaps the fact that the language of the book didn’t come across as very black and white. Maybe it’s the much more personal nature of the book, but I found this book far more relatable.

As someone who has attended Chris’s main event, the World Domination Summit, for the past 2 years, I’ve often heard stories of attendees’ quests and personal projects, and taken back plenty of inspiration. You don’t need a life list (although those could help). But for a chronic wanderlust-er like me, a quest holds a certain allure. Reading about the various quests of Chris’s readers rekindled my wanderlust, and inspired me to develop a quest of my own. What that will be, I can’t say, but I’m eager to find out.

For those of you who are restless, who are searching for purpose, or are just chronic wanderlusters, this book is for you.

Any other Chris Guillebeau fans out there? What do you think of his work?

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