Having a Plan for Hunting Something Can Make the Pursuit Enjoyable

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the happiness of pursuit


“As long as one keeps searching, the answers come.”
Joan Baez

I like to hunt.

Not exactly the words you’d expect from an animal-loving vegetarian, but it’s not hunting wild game I enjoy: it’s the game of hunting. Hunting for things (not animals) makes me happy. Really happy. Whenever I’m in the zone of trying to find the absolute perfect thing—say, themed decor for a party, a photo for a blog post, or a gift for a friend—I’m thrilled. Hopping from webpage to webpage, darting from store to store, I get a rush of excitement, knowing that just around the corner could be the very thing I’ve searching looking for.

I realized I wasn’t alone in my happy hunting when I read this in a recent TIME Magazine article, “Search activity [or, forward-looking behavior that often occurs in pursuit of a specific goal] simply feels good—a fact that helps explain why shopping for something is often more fun than buying it, hunting can be more enjoyable than actually bagging your prey, and so many politicians appear to have a better time running for office than holding it.”

It turns out that looking for things can, in fact, be more enjoyable than actually getting them. I couldn’t agree more with this. Whenever I finally find what I’m looking for, there’s a burst of excitement followed by a bit of a letdown. Getting what you want isn’t quite as great as going after what you want. The thrill of the hunt is where the excitement—and happiness—lies. Here are some of the ways to make the most of hunting. (Note: these hunting tactics also work for finding a job, a mate, etc.)


Sounds obvious, but it’s essential to know exactly what you want before you go after it. Think about the details—every itty bitty thing. The more specific you get, the more likely you’ll be to find what you’re searching for. For example, let’s say you want an orange shirt. If you look only for orange shirts, you’ll find a lot of stuff—way too much, in fact. But if you decide you want a silk, button-down orange shirt, you’ll be much more likely to find what you need in a much shorter time frame. Get really specific and know exactly what you’re looking for.


It’s always good to have a plan, and hunting is no different. When you’re searching for something, knowing where to look is essential. Depending on what it is, sometimes looking online is the best way to start. Sometimes in person is the way to go. The important thing isn’t where you start, though: it’s where you go. Once you know exactly what you’re after, it’s time to map out where you need to go to get it. There are so many ways to find what you’re looking for so it’s important to narrow it down to the best places before you start looking.


Don’t limit yourself when it comes to searching for what you want. You can find what you’re looking for in the oddest places (believe me, I know!), but you have to make sure you take advantage of every resource you have. Online resources are always excellent—you can search for anything!—but don’t ignore offline resources too. Ask people you know (or even those you don’t!) for search suggestions. A fresh perspective can take you in a new direction, and you just might find what you’re looking for.


You never know where you’ll find exactly what you’re looking for. I’ve stumbled on amazing finds in the most random of places. Keep your eyes open. You might not expect to find decor in a bookstore or the perfect gift at the super market, but if you keep your eyes (and mind!) open, you’ll be surprised at how often you find what you’re seeking in an unexpected place. People say you often find what you’re looking for when you stop looking, but I think you find it when you’re always looking.


After determining exactly what you want, it can be difficult to settle for something that doesn’t meet all the criteria, but perfection truly is the enemy of good. While I’m all for hunting until you find the thing that is absolutely perfect, sometimes you have to know when close enough is better than nothing. For example, going back to that first example, finding a silk orange shirt with no buttons is better than no orange shirt at all. Know what’s absolutely essential and be willing to let the less important things slide.

Though I’ll never be a hunter in the traditional sense, I do consider myself a seeker, a chaser. When I know what I want to find, I go looking for it with dogged purpose—and I enjoy every minute of the hunt. It’s taken some time for me to realize it, but it’s not only the pursuit of happiness I enjoy, but the happiness of the pursuit.

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