When I received a copy of The Happiness of Pursuit: Finding the Quest That Will Bring Purpose to Your Life by Chris Guillebeau, I wasn't sure what to expect. I'm not much of "questing" type. I'm more of a sit-on-the-couch-and-read kinda girl. But, having read Chris's site for years, I knew his latest book would contain insights and inspiration I couldn't miss out on. The book — filled with Chris's own inspiring story of traveling to 193 countries (!!!) as well as others' unique and motivating quests — did not disappoint. In fact, it empowered me to create a quest of my own.
Before I get into my personal quest, let me first explain a little bit about what a "quest" is. The word itself seems a bit daunting, but Chris's book breaks it down in a wonderful way that makes it seem both possible and a way to stretch yourself out of your comfort zone. The book does an excellent job of making the various aspects of — and potential methods to achieve — a quest very clear, but in a nutshell, Chris describes a quest as "a journey toward something specific, with a number of challenges throughout. Most quests also require a series of logistical steps and some kind of personal growth."
This might seem like a lot of things for one journey to include, but that's what makes it kind of amazing. It's not just picking up a new habit or trying out a new thing for a little while. It's embarking on an experience that has the potential to shake up your soul and create a sense of meaning in your life. It's a adventure, but one with enough of a challenge that you'll grow and change along the way.
The book is filled with information and insights about others' quests (so inspiring!), but it gets into the details such as: how to find a quest; how to handle the positives and negatives of a quest; what's the recipe for beginning a quest; what questions to ask to find your ideal quest; how to make the most of a quest; how to stay inspired to keep questing; how to cope with failure; how to afford a quest; and even how to handle life after quest.
One of most valuable things I learned while reading this book is that adventure is for everyone. What "adventure" is differs from person to person, but everyone can find a quest, a pursuit to evoke growth and adventure. As Chris writes, "many of us undertake an adventure to rediscover our sense of self," that those words made me wonder, what parts of myself am I missing out on by not undertaking adventures?
It was then that I was inspired to create my own quest...
THE YES QUEST
"Discontent is a match and inspiration is the kindling," writes Chris in the book so to find my own unique quest I started by thinking about what I wasn't content with in my life — and what would inspire me to create a quest I'd actually keep up with. The book was such a good resource for helping me figure out what kind of quest I wanted to embark on because, not only did it provide actual guidance on how to find and maintain a quest, but it was also filled with so many inspiring stories that it would have been almost impossible for me not to feel empowered and motivated to choose a quest of my own.
In one particularly inspiring story, Chris quotes world traveller Phoebe Snetsinger, who wrote in her memoir, "It has become ever more clear to me that if I had spent my life avoiding any and all potential risks, I would have missed doing most of the things that have comprised the best years of my life." That's just one of the many though-provoking quotes that got me thinking about what kind of quest I wanted to have.
The more I read the book and the more I stepped back and looked at my own life, the more it became clear what my quest needed to be. I needed to have a quest of yes. The quest of yes is this: for the next six months (maybe a year, if I start feeling particularly brave!), I will say yes to others and to myself.
Saying yes might not sound like a big quest (especially compared to some of the awe-inspiring tales in the book!), but for me, it's huge. I've never been one of those people-pleasing yes kind of girls. I'm much more of a I'll-do-it-if-it's-convenient-and-interesting types. This isn't always a bad thing, but it doesn't make for a lot of excitement and adventure. Starting now, I'm going to start saying yes and see where it takes me. (No taking advantage of that, friends and family!) So long as replying "yes" doesn't interfere negatively with my mental health, my bank account, or my core beliefs, I'm going to stop defaulting to no and start choosing yes.
I've already started and, I'll be honest, it feels pretty great (even though it's certainly a challenge!). I've accepted invitations I most certainly would have turned down in the past. For example, when a friend invited me to a concert, I immediately said "yes!" instead of thinking, But it's on a Sunday night... and it looks like rain... and I don't know that many songs by the artist... When a friend said, "Do you have time to chat?," instead of my default thinking — ugh, I really don't like talking on the phone... — I said, "Sure! Give me a call!"
And I'm evening saying yes to myself when I normally wouldn't. For example, a couple weeks ago, I was sitting on the couch when I remembered that I had an errand to run down in the city. It was the middle of the day on a Saturday which I consider to be the worst time to run errands because that's when everyone is out and about and it's so crowded, but when the thought crossed my mind, Should I venture down to the city?, instead of immediately convincing myself to stay put on the couch, I jumped up, got dressed, and embarked on a mini, midday adventure.
This quest of mine might not seem like an amazing adventure — it's nowhere near as cool as Chris's worldwide travels — but the great thing about choosing a personal quest is that it's an adventure for me. It's a big (and pretty wonderful) step outside of my comfort zone. It scares me a little (what if someone asks me to do something I really don't feel like doing? ugh!). But it's helping me to become a better, more positively present, version of me.
The kind of amazing thing about it is that I never would have even considered doing something like this without the inspiration found in the book. That's one of the best things about reading, isn't it? You just never know when the words are going to change the way you see your world. This book has certainly helped me launch my own quest and, if you're considering a quest of your own (or even if you're not sure!), I'd highly recommend checking it out. Want to learn more about Chris and about the book? Follow Chris on Twitter, Facebook & Instagram! And keep scrolling down to see how you can win a copy!
WIN A COPY OF THE HAPPINESS OF PURSUIT!
After reading this post, you're probably thinking you'd like to check out the book, right? Well, guess what? You have a chance to win your very own copy here! Whether you're currently on a quest, contemplating beginning one, or just curious about what others' quests have been, this book is a must-read. Enter to win your own copy below!
HOW TO ENTER
1. Enter by doing one (or all!) of the following. Each counts as an entry.
* Friend PositivelyPresent on Facebook
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* Link to this post on any social media outlet
2. Leave a comment below, including:
* Where / how you entered (every follow / like / tweet / etc. counts!)
* (Optional) What quest you're on or plan to go on
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* Enter as many times as you'd like to increase your chances!
* Winner will be chosen + notified via email on September 22, 2014