The Happiness of Pursuit: Finding the Quest That Will Bring Purpose to Your Life by Chris Guillebeau
The book is not about happiness or how to become so.
It’s about the ambition of the pursuit and the desire to do whatever it took to keep going.

Some quests take years or even decades to complete.
“Deciding to improve one’s life, however meaningful it might be on a personal level, is not a quest. Quit smoking, lose weight, get out of debt, are not quests.

A quest:
Has a clear goal and a specific end point.
Presents a clear challenge.
Requires sacrifice of some kind.
Is often driven by a calling or sense of mission.
Requires a series of small steps and incremental progress towards the goal.

Reasons to quest:
Self-discovery (find yourself).
Reclaiming (re-discover heritage or new cultures).
Response to external events (Getting laid off).
Desire for ownership and empowerment (Being told you can’t do that).
Taking a stand for something (Activism).

Why start a Quest:
Do you like lists?
Enjoy setting goals?
Motivated by making progress?
Enjoy planning?
Misunderstood hobby or passion?
Daydream about a different life?
Obsessed with a hobby or passion?

John Francis walked across america. Activist against folssil fuel based transportation.

struggling with the “what next” which can feel quite a bit like postpartum depression

Estimate the cost of the quest. Quests can cost time, money, opportunity.
Don’t let risks stop you. Mitigate risks.
Risk and cost make the quest challenging.

Pursuing a quest can make you happy and/or fulfilled. Don’t confuse the two.

You will figure things out along the way. Walk across america

Live with urgency. Make your life count.

Some discussion about how people on their deathbed let go of BS. They get very real and honest. I read something else recently that had a similar theme. This struck a chord with me.

Recall the author saying a quest “Presents a clear challenge” and “requires sacrifice of some kind”. Something to think about, people who commit to a quest must have the resources and circumstances to do so. People with young children or pets will find it very challenging to commit to a quest. Especially the types of quests that require peoples time in great amounts. The girl who sailed around the world, the man who walked across the country. These people can’t have commitments like a job, pets, or kids. There are other quests that one can fit into their life with some sacrifice, such as the cooking a meal from each country or taking pictures of birds. I can imagine that the time required for a quest would significantly eat into watching their kids’ soccer practice or taking them to the mall/birthday parties. It is a simple observation to me that for your activity to meet the authors definition of a quest, is not feasible to the average soccer mom or dad.

Does this mean a quest is reserved only for the rich or care-free childless or empty nest household? I would say no. You can use the inspiration of the quest to drive you forward to a quest-like mission. In the book, the author discusses how working to lose weight, get out of debt, or read more are not “quests”, they can still be pursued like a quest. Don’t give up on a noble activity because it’s not a quest. The problem with modern society is that we are flooded with news of peoples larger than life accomplishments. They seem to take away from our accomplishments. You ran 5 miles today? I ran 20. etc. I feel your accomplishments are yours to celebrate. Running 5 miles is more than running 1 mile. And if you are running 1 mile a day, up from zero, then that’s an accomplishment!

Avoid the “go big or go home” syndrome. A win is a win, take a win when you can. Don’t let your social media friend demotivate you because they ran farther, lifted more weight at the gym, or bought a nicer car. Measure your progress against yourself, not others. Also it’s possible to engage in a quest someday in the future when you have more time and resources. But do what you can today – don’t wait to live your life. There is always some kind of mini-quest you can do, today.

It’s funny because I didn’t think this book would be about quests. I read the title and thought it would be about the fact that it’s more important to be satisfied because you are doing things in life vs. trying to be “happy”. I have read elsewhere that the pursuit of happiness is really chasing after a dopamine rush. This is a fake happiness. The chemical reaction causes addiction. People start chasing the dopamine rush by doing things not beneficial in their lives like using substances, spending money, partying, etc. It is better to pursue something like a quest. Have a purpose and a mission. Doing things has rewards, and those rewards also give a dopamine rush. Except this time it’s not an empty addiction. It’s sustainable and has rewards outside just feelings.

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