Back this past fall I had the opportunity to hear Chris Guillebeau talk about his new book, The Happiness of Pursuit, at Longfellow Books in Portland. Chris is a cool guy. He is an entrepreneur and founder of the World Domination Summit, which I hope to go to someday. It sounds awesome! Cue visions of Pinky and the Brain… Chris has also traveled to all 193 countries before his 35th birthday. The Happiness of Pursuit is both a memoir and guide to undertaking quests in life.
Chris spoke to an eager group of 30+ people about his views and theories on human quests and also about his years of traveling around the world through the art of travel hacking. He is an easy guy to talk to and much prefers having a conversation versus lecturing people about his travel experiences. Most people asked him about his favorite countries and his least favorites. Chris has a hard time picking and gave us his top 3. The world is so diverse and unique, how could you pick one favorite place?!
Chris signed two copies of books for me after his talk. He commented about my Ironman jacket, which is cool since he is an avid endurance runner finishing a couple of marathons himself. I quickly went home afterwards and spent my Friday night diving head first into his book.
The Happiness of Pursuit is an easy and quick read. The book begins with a personal travel story from Chris. Chris spent four years in Africa working in international aid (something I extremely admire about him) and has traveled extensively around Africa as a result of it. However, traveling in Africa is not easy and Chris’ story talks about how he had to sleep on the dirt ground at an airport overnight between flights because flights are a rare commodity in many Africa countries. Throughout the book Chris will divulge one of his travel stories in his “dispatch” section. One criticism of the book that I have is that I wish Chris shared more of his stories! He’s a wealth of knowledge.
One of the things I love most about the The Happiness of Pursuit is the numerous stories from people Chris has met along the way from his quest to visit all 193 countries and his The Art of Non-Conformity and The $100 Startup book tours in previous years. One such character that we met in the book is Nate Damm, a Portland, Maine native who decided to walk across the country. Yay Maine! 🙂
Each chapter of the book is centered around a specific lesson or theme of the chapter. For example, chapter 5 entitled “self-reliance” starts with one of my favorite Coco Chanel quotes’ “The most courageous act is to think for yourself. Aloud” and the lesson “Not everyone needs to believe in your dream, but you do” (Page 71). The chapter then goes on to give real people’s stories of their dreams and what self-reliance means to them. For example, Laura Dekker is the 16 year-old Dutch girl who sued her government to become the youngest person ever to sail around the world solo. Laura strongly believed in her dream and her father was supportive, however, her government and many others did not support her dreams. It was her quest in life and eventually she won and completed her mission in life.
Each chapter walks you through the steps you need to take to discover your passions in life and to choose a life quest that is meaningful for you personally. A quest is generally much more than a goal, it’s more of calling or mission in life. It is something that you feel you must do. However, quests do have smaller incremental goals that ends in one clear goal and has a specific end date. Take Chris’ quest of visiting all 193 countries of the world. He set his end date for by his 35th birthday. Each new country he visited was another milestone and goal to reaching his ultimate goal. It is also something challenging. It should push you outside your comfort zone. Visiting every country in the world is not easy! Try visiting North Korea, Cuba, and Iraq when you’re not very welcomed as an American.
Overall, I enjoyed The Happiness of Pursuit. It was an easy vacation read and I loved hearing real stories from real people about their highs and lows of achieving their missions in life. It has made me think hard about my mission in life. As I approach the end of my 20s in the near future, I’ve been struggling with what my mission or calling is in life. Chris’ book helped me realize that the frustration and confusion that I am feeling is part of the process. I recommend picking up this book and if you ever have the opportunity to hear Chris speak or meet him then I HIGHLY recommend that. He’s a pretty down-to-earth, cool guy to chat with over beers.
And come back on Wednesday for your chance to WIN a signed copy of The Happiness of Pursuit and more during my One Year Blog Anniversary giveaway!