The Happiness of Pursuit Book Review

Chris Guillebeau’s book The Happiness of Pursuit shifted my perspective on aging

The Happiness of Pursuit

Have you ever read a book that set you on a whole new path in life? Or that joggled your sense of passion and purpose into practical action? I did… and I’m on a 30-year quest because of it… from age 70 to 100.

Last September, I devoured Chris Guillebeau’s book “The Happiness of Pursuit” which documents Chris’s and other people’s “quests” – grand adventures that took them out of humdrum and mainstream and led them to challenge themselves, rediscover themselves and enjoy themselves.

The concept of quest and adventure became so tantalizing to me that ideas kept popping up as I was reading. I took notes and more notes… and then one idea overtook all the others and I knew what my quest was going to be.

People launch quests for a variety of reasons:

  1. They are discontented with some aspect of their life (or the rut they’re in).
  2. They feel a calling to do something, without sometimes knowing why. They just HAVE to do it.
  3. They feel a need to test themselves in a bigger way.
  4. They want to make a difference in the world.
  5. They’re ready to put their money where their mouth is or to start their “bucket list” now.
  6. A life-altering situation such as a job loss, illness or divorce startles them into action.

In my case, the “life-altering” issue was the thought/reality of my 70th birthday in June of 2015. As I read Guillebeau’s book and the stories of the quests begun by people 20, 30, even 50 years younger than me, I recognized that the very long, physical quests were not for me at age 69, when I first read the book.

But I also made a note of the dissatisfaction I felt about the way I was living life… it felt too safe and stale to bring about much personal development. Definitely not much adventure involved. And where was my contribution to the world, I wondered.

I realized that I didn’t want to fall into the rut of “old age.” I also allowed myself to see that what I really enjoy doing is reading and reviewing potentially life-changing books like this, and then posting my thoughts online, with the hope of inspiring others through my words.

Reading a book like The Happiness of Pursuit makes my mind fly. Guillebeau has inspired me to take action. And so I am. And it feels good. As Guillebeau explains, a quest is more than a personal growth project or fitness schedule or get-out-of-debt plan.

Quests have 5 key components:

  • A clear goal and a specific ending point.
  • A challenge, something that must be overcome.
  • A sacrifice of some kind. What are you willing to give up in order to complete your quest?
  • A sense of calling or mission that keeps you motivated to continue.
  • A series of steps, with incremental progress toward your goal. (It’s not an overnight sensation.)

Guillebeau emphasizes the importance of planning before starting your quest, to make sure you can handle it financially and emotionally. But he cautions readers to not get stuck at the planning stage. This is an adventure, after all, and the journey doesn’t come with guarantees. When you’re “ready enough,” just start.

That’s what I’m doing.

Reviewing thought-provoking books has now become part of my quest to cease feeling like an old fogey and start living an adventurous life again. Butt-kicking ideas will help me achieve this.

I’m also trying to figure out how to translate my fascination with “tiny houses” into an actual physical community for seniors and others with limited incomes.

My quest starts at age 70 

My quest has a 30-year span, with the aim of keeping myself young in body, mind, and outlook from age 70 to 100. Anything past 100 is a bonus.

My larger challenge is to stay open to new ideas, to be willing to shift perspectives, and to learn new ways to keep my mind and body functioning at optimum levels. Oh yes, and to develop the discipline to practice what I preach.

Quests aren’t just for dissatisfied workers in cubicles. Society’s elders have lots to contribute and sometimes just need a way to focus their efforts. I’ve waffled long enough. Now I’m ready to get going.

A quest was just what I needed to launch me off the skinny branch and into the air.

I want to be a healthy, vital, active, interesting, adventuresome woman well into the next three decades of my life. Why not?

This sounds like fun to me, because it IS me to the bone. Playing with ideas, even if they’re other people’s ideas to start with. A book like Guillebeau’s The Happiness of Pursuit recharges – even rejuvenates – me.

And that’s the whole reason behind my questing. Making the years between 70 and 100 the most fun yet. I feel excited for the first time in ages.

And grateful… oh so grateful.



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