Lessons from the Journey: Unhappiness Can Lead to New Beginnings


“To the discontented man no chair is easy.”
-Benjamin Franklin

From my own 193-country journey to the stories of many other people who were kindly willing to share, The Happiness of Pursuit attempts to extract and convey the lessons of modern-day quests. This series explores some of these lessons.

Lesson: Unhappiness can lead to new beginnings.

If you’re not happy with an aspect of your life, or even if you just feel a faint stirring to do something different, pay attention to the dissatisfaction. Ask yourself “What if” questions. What if I actually pursued that dream or idea? What if I made that big change?

Discontent can be a source of growth and inspiration.

Sandi Wheaton was laid off from a long-term job at General Motors in Detroit. Her first instinct was to panic… but then she realized that the layoff presented an opportunity to do something she’d always wanted.

What she wanted was reinvention, and she found it in the form of an extended road trip along America’s Route 66 that eventually launched a new career. Still, it wasn’t easy at first.

“I had zero clue how to do it,” she said, “but I was driven by the desire to avoid looking back years later and calling myself a chicken shit for not using this opportunity for something.”

Sandi—and many others—paid attention to the dissatisfaction they felt in doing the same things every day. If you too feel unhappy or discontented, pay attention and take heed. Use these unsettling feelings to figure out what’s really wrong… and how you can course-correct.


The Happiness of Pursuit is available from or your favorite local bookseller. You can also join me on tour in your choice of more than 40 cities.

Image: Riccardo

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