The Happiness of Pursuit - Chris Guillebeau

The Happiness of Pursuit - Chris Guillebeau

Video Book Summary

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Book Summary Notes  

The Happiness of Pursuit

“In addition to satisfying my own curiosity, I wrote this book to inspire you to attempt something remarkable of your own."

"Look closely here and you’ll see a path you can follow, no matter your goal. Everyone who pursues a quest learns many lessons along the way. Some relate to accomplishment, disillusionment, joy and sacrifice—others to the specific project at hand. But what if you could learn these lessons earlier? What if you could study with others who’ve invested years— sometimes decades—in the relentless pursuit of their dreams?"

"That learning opportunity is what this book is all about. You’ll sit with people who have pursued big adventures and crafted lives of purpose around something they found deeply meaningful. You’ll hear stories and lessons. You’ll learn what happened along the way, but more important, you’ll learn why it happened and why it matters. It’s my job as the author to provide a framework and issue a challenge. It’s yours to decide the next steps."

"Perhaps reading about other people’s stories will prompt you to think about your own life. What excites you? What bothers you? If you could do anything at all without regard to time or money, what would it be?”

Learning through pursuit!

This channel is all about learning..

Learning about Habits

Learning about Productivity

Learning about Goal Setting

Learning about Purpose

But what is all of this learning for if we don't put it to use?

As the Stoic's say we want to be warriors of the mind and not librarians of the mind..

And what do warriors need?  They need a quest!

A quest is the greatest learning tool!

It's profoundly motivating..

It forces you out of your comfort zone..

It draws people towards you on the same journey..

It allows personal growth to build upon itself rather than 'learning' in chunks that don't connect! 

A Quest

“A quest, we decided, is something bigger." 

"It takes more time and requires more commitment than general life improvement. Still, though, what exactly is a quest? How to define it?"

"After much consideration, here are the criteria we settled on."

  • "A quest has a clear goal and a specific end point. You can clearly explain a quest in a sentence of two. Every quest has a beginning, and sooner or later, every quest will come to an end."
  • "A quest presents a clear challenge."
  • "A quest requires 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."
  • "To sum it up, a quest is a journey toward something specific, with a number of challenges throughout. Most quests also require a series of logical steps and some kind of personal growth.”

Committing to a quest is the best thing you can do for your own personal development..

A quest forces you out into the ocean and that's where we learn!

  • But a quest is more than 'running a marathon' or 'getting a promotion' that's for sure..
  • A quest is something that connects you to your highest self through consistently asking your to grow in ability, belief and commitment.

So how do we decide on our quest?

  • 1. First we need a clear goal.  Ideally one that can be explained in a sentence.
  • 2. That goal needs to actually be challenging and require personal growth.
  • 3. The quest is going to require sacrifice of time, money, security or etc.
  • 4. Quests are connected to something bigger a 'calling or a mission' and are meaningful.
  • 5. A quest isn't one big leap, it requires small incremental steps towards a goal.

Let's find your quest!

  • Step One: What do you feel called to do?  This might take some time to find.  Meditate on it.
  • Step Two: Connect that calling to a goal.  What do you want to accomplish?  Specific and short.
  • Step Three: Break down the first few steps!  What do you need to do?
  • Step Four: Continue to break down the steps ahead of you and commit to following through.


“If you’ve ever felt a strange sense of sadness or alienation, there’s a potential way out of the confusion—just shift this feeling to a sense of purpose." 

"It’s not all about happiness, although happiness often results from doing something you love. Instead, it’s about challenge and fulfillment, finding the perfect combination of striving and achievement that comes from reaching a big goal."

"Metaphorically, discontent is the match and inspiration is the kindling. When discontent leads to excitement, that’s when you know you’ve found your pursuit.”

What's the point?

Have you ever felt like whatever you're doing isn't worth it?

  • Like you're waking up in the morning, going to work and repeating it like groundhog day?
  • Most of us have felt like that at one point in time..
  • Often we look for things that give us 'happiness' like comfort food, movies or sports in order to feel a brief sense of happiness..

But it's not happiness we're missing..

  • Happiness is a bi-product of fulfillment!
  • Fulfillment is a bi-product of feeling like we're making progress towards a worthy ideal or living up to our purpose.

So you want to be happy? 

  • Get busy pursuing your quest!
  • Will it be hard?  Yes.  Will there be days you feel like giving up?  Yes.  Will there be people who try and stop you?  Yes. 
  • But overcoming each of those obstacles leads to happiness.  Continuing the groundhog day and covering up the sadness with 'fake happy' won't.

What if you're not happy?

  • Discontent and unhappiness can be great motivators as well!  
  • They won't be long lasting like pursuing your quest..  But they can lead you to exploring different options!
  • Exploring different options might lead to your quest!  Even unhappiness is helpful if viewed in the correct way.


“In an interview for Rolling Stone, Bob Dylan was asked about the word calling." 

“Everybody has a calling,” he said. “Some have a high calling, some have a low calling. Everybody is called but few are chosen. There’s a lot of distraction for people. So you might not ever find the real you. A lot of people don’t.”

"When asked how he would describe his own calling, here’s how he answered."

"Mine? Not any different than anybody else’s. Some people are called to be a good sailor. Some people have a calling to be a good tiller of the land. Some people are called to be a good friend."

"You have to be the best at whatever you are called at. Whatever you do. You ought to be the best at it—highly skilled. It’s about confidence, not arrogance. You have to know that you’re the best whether anybody else tells you that or not."

"Embracing a calling is about being the best at something, or doing something that you feel no one else can do. Not necessarily in a competitive manner, where you have to beat someone else, but according to your own standard of what you know is true."

"Some of us discover a quest, and sometimes the quest discovers us. Whichever is the case with you, once you identify your calling, don’t lose sight of it.”

Becoming the highest version of yourself!

That's truly whats calling all of us..

  • Each of us will have different aspects.  Some will make music, some will be a carpenter or some will be a therapist.
  • What you are doesn't matter.  Becoming the best version of that you can is the calling!

That's a game we can play forever!

  • Flow: is the mental state in which a person performing some activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity

It's best known as 'being in the zone' in sports for example..

But it's a lot more than that!  It's a state where time melts away and we're 10x more productive..

That's right, one hour of Flow based work translates to ten hours of non-Flow based work!

  • The people in my life who are at the absolute highest level always see whatever they do as a game!
  • They don't focus so much on the small outcomes, they focus on consistent improvement and not taking it too seriously..
  • Finding your calling and becoming the highest version of yourself is the game you can play forever..  There is always room to be better!

Be Deliberate

“Remember the words of Kathleen Taylor, who worked with hospice patients in their final days." 

"Once you’re near the end, there’s no time for bullshit. But what if you decided there’s no time for bullshit—or regrets—far in advance of the end? What if you vow to live life the way you want right now, regardless of what stage of life you’re in?"

"To truly live without regrets, pay attention. Ask yourself hard questions and see where they lead. Do I really want this job? Is this relationship right for me? If I could do anything, would it be what I’m doing today or something different?"

"People who live their lives in pursuit of quests or adventures understand they have to be deliberate about doing things that matter.”

At the end..  Was it worth it?

This is a powerful motivating question..

  • It's also profoundly centering!
  • 'At the end will this matter?' 
  • 'If I knew I only had one year left would I keep doing what I am now?'
  • 'Will I be proud of who I'm being now when I don't have any time left?'

Sure they all seem like cliche phrases!

But it's weird..  In most cultures we don't want to look at the fact that we have limited time!

Instead our attention is placed on what's right infront of us.. 

The opinions of others

The path of society

Pleasure and not pain

What would the Stoics say?

  • The Stoics are known for the meditations on death..  I think it fits here.  
  • Check out the playlist of 12 Stoic books on the channel.  Here is a preview.
  • Seneca: “Let us prepare our minds as if we’d come to the very end of life. Let us postpone nothing. Let us balance life’s books each day…The one who puts the finishing touches on their life each day is never short of time.”
  • Marcus Aurelius: “You could leave life right now. Let that determine what you do and say and think.”


“You must believe that your quest can be successful, even if no one else does." 

"You can deal with setbacks, misadventures, and even disasters as long as you still believe you can overcome the hardships and see your way to the end."

"Whatever your quest, you, too, must believe."

"A desire for ownership and accomplishment, the fierce desire for control over one’s life—these are powerful forces. Being told you can’t do something is supremely motivating."

"There is joy in retelling of the stories. At one point in my research I talked with someone who ran fifty marathons in a year. “According to conventional wisdom,” he said, “You’re just not supposed to run a marathon every week. But that’s why it’s so satisfying.””

All success starts with belief..

A sneaking suspicion that we were meant to so something more than our current state!

  • The understanding that if someone else has done it before we can too..
  • The blind faith that if we put in the work eventually it will pay off..

True belief is built not found!

  • Belief comes by looking at our past actions and seeing that we've been able to accomplish things in the past..
  • Belief comes from looking at the steps we took towards our goal a week ago and realizing we're moving towards it..
  • Belief is built by momentum!  Don't believe?  Take a few steps and look back.


“The long, slow grind of working hard toward something is all about loving the process." 

"If you don’t love the process, the grind is tough. The grind is also a dangerous time. It’s when you’re tempted to give up, call it a day, or at least cut corners."

"Steven Pressfield, author of a dozen books, says, “The most important thing about art is to work. Nothing else matters except sitting down every day and trying.” So, too, for a quest. The most important thing is continuing to make progress.”

Fall in love with the process not the end result!

The end result is sexy..

  • After all it's the culmination of all of our hard work and finally it's been successful!
  • That is seductive..  But it's not very motivating!

Studies show that people who focus on the end result are more likely to be distracted or discouraged..

So what should we focus on?

  • Self-Mastery or becoming the highest version of ourself.. 
  • Notice how much wisdom, self confidence and mastery you're gaining along the way toward the end..
  • Fall in love with your craft and fall in love with getting better!
  • This is important because the end result won't last long, but you'll spend years on the build so you better enjoy it!
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