Literary Mood Board: The Happiness of Pursuit

Literary Mood Board: The Happiness of Pursuit by Chris Gillebeau

Let’s get right down to business here: this is the book I’ve been waiting for. Exaggeration? Maybe a little, but the timing of this book couldn’t have been any better. Along with my search for how to create more meaning, I’ve been hounded by a constant feeling that I’m preparing for some big shift—by ditching my belongings and gathering my resources, it seems like it’s only a matter of time before I make a leap into something very new and very different.

Chris Guillebeau is the definition of his own movement: the art of nonconformity. His writing focuses mainly on how to make things possible in whatever way you choose—especially when that’s against the status quo. The focus of The Happiness of Pursuit is the quest and people who are driven to take on challenges that seem to be out of the blue and may not make sense to others. From ultra-athletes and culinary adventurers to serial knitters and world travelers, the biggest takeaway from this book is that action kicks off a whole process that can lead to a much richer, more satisfying life. When you take action, that engages your self-knowledge (What do you love? What worries you?). That knowledge helps you move confidently toward what you love, which is when you may start setting some goals for yourself. (Just watch—you'll notice it!) And finally: small goals can turn into larger goals and eventually a life-enriching quest. But what's a quest?

Gillebeau defines it with 5 main points:

  • A quest has a clear goal and a specific end point.
  • A quest presents a clear challenge.
  • A quest requires a sacrifice of some kind.
  • A quest is often driven by a calling or sense of mission.
  • A quest requires a series of small steps and incremental progress toward the goal.

If you ever studied the hero's journey in school, the quest will be familiar to you and includes all of the "call to adventure," "road of trials," and "the ultimate boon" elements. This lifestyle appeals to me so incredibly because, frankly, I often wish that life had a much more blantant driving force. I remember leaving the theater after watching Harry Potter on my birthday a few years ago, feeling let down from the mundanity of being stuck in traffic in the "real world." After a couple of intense hours with Hermione and the boys, my own life seemed directionless. This isn't a feeling I get every day, but if I'm honest, I have been feeling adrift for about a year or so. What's the point of these things I'm doing? From each quester's life and behavioral patterns that Gillebeau has picked up on, it sounds like I'm ripe for taking some action—and soon. A quest can begin small and bloom quickly and forcefully into something lifechanging. I'm ready for some of that. Are you?


See last month's literary mood board: Literary Mood Board: What to Read

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