I’ve put off reading Chris Guillebeau’s book, The Art of Non-Conformity, for far too long. I won a copy of the book in a writing contest several months ago, and I figured now would be a good time to finish it, so I don’t have to carry it around to our next location. Fortunately, this book was interesting enough to me that I finished it in just a few days – and I wish I’d read it much sooner.
I’ve been a long-time reader of Chris’ blog, and have always enjoyed his casual and friendly style. The first time I read his original manifesto, A Brief Guide to World Domination, I decided that this was my new favorite blog. Since then, I haven’t been keeping up with it as much, but I found this new book extremely relevant, compelling, and inspiring.
So, what is The Art of Non-Conformity about?
Essentially, it’s about questioning and challenging the way things are. It’s about doing what makes sense and what you love to do, even if it flies in the face of what everyone else is doing or telling you to do. There are usually alternative, and often superior, ways to do things than how we’re currently doing them.
Chris says the book isn’t for everybody, and while I agree to an extent that some people may not really be ready for such a life-changing book, I think everyone could benefit from reading it. Although I wonder if him saying that just makes people want to read it more. :)
A few years ago, Chris made a goal to travel to every country in the world (that’s 192 countries) by his 35th birthday, and he’s almost finished! He also spent several years volunteering in Africa, has supported himself financially through a myriad of different businesses and self-employment, and is a master of creativity and living a meaningful and fulfilling life.
Chris encourages us all to find out what it is that inspires us, to do what makes us happy, and to find a way to leave our legacy and use our time and resources to make the world a better place. He covers finances, overcoming debt, money management, and getting more money. He talks about overcoming fear, fighting authority, obtaining a true education, and other dangerous ideas.
Several of the topics he covered are ones I’m addressing in my book as well, but I guess I shouldn’t be surprised by a little overlap. At least now I have someone else I can quote. :)
Since I’m already big into challenging the status quo and doing my own thing, as you can tell because I quit my job, sold all my possessions, moved my family to Costa Rica, homeschool my kids, and work only 5 hours per week on income-producing activities, the book of course resonated with me. However, the biggest takeaway for me was the idea of spending the majority of my time creating and teaching in ways that will make the world a better place. I’ve tried the “relax and enjoy” lifestyle, and it’s fun for a while, but I’ve found I’m much happier when working on a project that will improve someone else’s life as well as my own.
Even something as simple as writing on my blog or my book, writing music, or teaching someone a useful skill, gives me the feeling of time well spent, and that I’ve given in a way that only I can. That’s not to say the time I spend answering emails, reading, visiting with friends and family, and even relaxing, isn’t important. I think they’re all necessary and good and I will keep doing them. It’s just if I spend all my time only on those things, I feel less fulfilled. I want to make sure that I’m making time to create something wonderful, give of myself, and improve the world around me.
Check out The Art of Non-Conformity today!