The Happy Minimalist

Peter - Santa Clara, California
Entered on July 29, 2008

My friends call me the Happy Minimalist. It is partly because of one of my core beliefs: If you lead a simple life, you can afford to retire young. It does wonders for your health and it is also good for the environment. To stay true to my belief, I recently left a promising career at Hewlett Packard Company. Friends and colleagues were intrigued. Why would someone retire at such a young age and especially now when there is so much uncertainty in the economy? To me, this seemed to be the perfect time to clearly demonstrate the virtues of a simple life.

Based on my 2007 adjusted gross income, I am in the top 1% of the world’s richest people. Yet, I take the minimalist approach to living. I have no bed, no HD TV, no cable and practically no furniture. Yet, I am truly happy with my quality of life. Although the roots of this minimalist lifestyle was originally motivated by spiritual and financial reasons, I am now passionately convinced that simple living in some form is imperative for all of us if we and future generations are to continue to thrive in this planet. Though accounting for only 5 percent of the world’s population, Americans consume 26 percent of the world’s energy. If everyone in the world consumed like the average American, we would need about 6 earths to sustain ourselves. As the middle class population in the emerging countries grows, they would want to live like an average American too. But we only have one Earth. According to calculation by Cornell ecologists, the planet will only be able to provide for 2 billion humans by the year 2100. The world population today is about 6 billion. You see our current world population and the lifestyles we choose to lead are depleting essential natural resources faster than they can be replaced. By embracing minimalism in some form or fashion, I hope we can demonstrate to the rest of the world that we need not drain the limited resources the planet earth offers to lead a fulfilling life. You can be a minimalist and still be happy.

A great soul once said: Live simply so that others may simply live.