Book Review: The Happiness of Pursuit

In Adventure, Book Review, Consumer, Trip Report by scott


Chris Guillebeau is one of the most interesting folks I know. We met during his quest to visit every country in the world. Some of the tools he used to acheive that goal included some great “travel hacking” skills to maximize the benefits of credit card bonuses and frequent flyer mileage plans.

As a traveler, I honed in on his ideas and I’ve taken several free trips as a result.B-q3gGrR_400x400

But along the way, Chris has built a bigger machine—because his dreams have gotten bigger. In his latest book, “The Happiness of Pursuit”, he interviews a collection of dreamers and schemers who have given their all to a particular quest or passion. Their stories go beyond travel and adventure (even a teenager doing a solo-sail around the world) and include activism, self-discovery, academic milestones and some incredible physical achievements.

During Chris’s trip around the world (it actually took several trips around the world in both directions to set foot in 193 countries), he observed how many people were dissatisfied or unfulfilled in their lives, despite the trappings of success. Sometimes, a shocking event (job loss, death of a loved one or rejection) spurred these individuals to action. Other times, there was a nagging sentiment or desire that simply would not go away. In “The Happiness of Pursuit”, Chris details the process that led to the start of a quest, then walks the readers through what often is a long slog from the spark of inspiration to the completion of a goal.

Chris’s quest to visit every country in the world changed him along the way. He developed some new skills which have served him well. One precious skill, “the ability to wait”, is something I’m still working on. HA. But Chris shares the stories of how the world changed for people who were singularly committed to a goal, project or acheivement.

But there’s more to it, of course. Chris loves to dissect the metrics of a quest. What is it that makes people decide to take a vow of silence for almost 20 years? How about running a marathon every week? Or cooking a meal from every country in the world for your family?

Left, that’s me with Renee Harris (0f and Chris at one of his events, the “World Domination Summit“.

chrisWhy would someone decide to go on a “first date” in all 50 states? What possesses a man to seek out opportunities to be rejected for 100 days in a row? How does someone decide to camp out in a treehouse for more than a year to protest illegal logging?

A big part of any quest is identifying the goal or objective. But Chris goes beyone that to the obvious next step: taking action. He breaks it down step-by-step based on his case studies. Some folks went all-in overnight, transforming themselves in a short amount of time. Others took one meaningful step after another, overcoming rejection and well-meaning criticism from friends and family.

“The Happiness of Pursuit” features interviews with a collection of individuals who changed the way they look at the world as they achieved great things. It’s also an invitation for the reader to be a part of something great. Identify your own quest. Build your own dream. Save yourself and change the world.

It’s a tall order. But you may conclude, after reading these stories, that it’s what you were made for.

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