As part of his book,
Happy Minimalist, Peter Lawrence has included a
section called Ethical
Will (appendix G). Ethical
Will is a way of leaving behind something more meaningful
than material goods.
We are not going to live forever. And even during our lifetime, we may
not have the opportunity to share our knowledge and experience.
Including this section provides a means to share our “values” not only
with people we know, but also those we have yet to know.
On Treating Yourself
1. My first goal in
life is not to be a burden to myself and/or to society. My second goal
is to help others not to be a burden to themselves and/or to society.
2. The less you
depend on people and things for your happiness, the more you become
your source of happiness.
3. Focus on things
that really matter and those that you can add value to. Don’t get
distracted. Focus on your strengths and not on your weaknesses. An
elephant is best in the forest and a camel best in the desert. No point
for the elephant to spend time and energy trying to be like a camel. If
it does, it will eventually end up being bad at both.
4. Avoid prescription
drugs or over-the-counter drugs as much as possible. As the Father of
Medicine said, “Let food be your medicine and medicine be your food.”
Be aware of what you ingest. Make every effort to eat real foods that
are locally and organically grown and in season. Avoid GM (genetically
modified) foods at all cost.
5. Mother Nature is
self-healing. Give nature a chance to heal itself. Think about it: When
you have a wound and the doctor dresses it, who or what actually heals
6. No one culture,
race, or religion has the answer to everything. You are usually better
off in combining the best of what each has to offer and developing a
style that fits the situation best. Example: Bruce Lee became
formidable by studying styles from more than one form of martial arts.
7. Two wrongs don’t
make a right. It is very tempting to justify a wrong action by claiming
that you did it for the greater good. A wrong is a wrong. A lie is a
lie, white or otherwise. Your yes should mean yes and your no should
8. Don’t make any
decision out of fear, greed, pride, or anger.
9. Get out while you
are still ahead. Don’t be greedy. Cut your losses as soon as you
realize your decision is wrong. No point hanging on to bad investments
hoping they would turn around, or worse still, injecting more resources
into a lost cause. There is an opportunity cost to hanging on to bad
decisions. Pumping more resources into a bad investment is tantamount
to letting good resources chase after bad investments.
10. Don’t compare your life with others. You have no idea
what they may have gone through in life. You don’t know what is in
store for you or for them. Each of us has our own unique role to play
and there is no backup. When we fail to recognize our true vocation and
live it, we are doing a disservice to ourselves and to others. As
Abraham Maslow said, “A musician must make music, an artist must paint,
a poet must write if he is to be ultimately at peace with himself.”
11. Always take some time to be alone to reflect things
through. If possible, take a hike to the mountains or to a water
source. If that is not possible, spend time quietly with nature.
12. Recognize all the good things you have and be thankful.
13. Nothing lasts forever. If you are going through bad
times, just remember that no storm lasts forever.
1. Mother Nature is
forgiving. So follow nature: Try to forgive others as soon as possible.
It is not always easy, but holding a grudge only does you more harm
2. When you have the
opportunity to help someone, help. Don’t keep tabs on who you helped.
Just help. Don’t help expecting something back. Just help. Amazingly,
you will get the help when you need it most (not necessarily from the
same people you helped).
3. When you are not
sure if you should go the extra mile to help someone, ask yourself what
you would want if the roles were reversed.
4. We are only asked
to love our neighbor as much we love ourselves. No more. No less.
Usually, we end up either overextending ourselves or loving ourselves
too much—meaning we become too obsessed with our own happiness,
impervious of the consequence that has on others.
There is a common cliché “Money doesn’t
buy happiness.” Many people just repeat this like a
parrot. As long as we are not living in a barter-based economy, money
can buy happiness. But the following points are also true:
* Money can also buy sorrow.
Money can lead to sorrow if used in the
wrong way. A truly happy person judiciously uses his money to procure
only what he needs to secure happiness. A fool spends his money on
frivolous wants and suffers later.
* The way one goes about getting money can result in sorrow.
The happier people are those who do what
they enjoy to earn money and use the money wisely to procure only the
things they need. Others compromise their principles and health in
their pursuit of money and consequently negate the happiness they were
* Money is not the only thing that can bring us happiness.
There are other things that contribute
to our happiness besides money, such as a clear conscience, mental and
physical health, and endearing relationships.
* The best things in life are free—no money is needed.
person is the one who realizes all the above points and is able to
Peter Lawrence was
born and raised in Singapore and lives in Santa Clara, California. He
has been able to retire well before the normal retirement age not
because he won a lottery, inherited wealth, or joined a start-up. In
fact, he has humble beginnings. Peter attributes his early retirement
to his minimalist lifestyle. The life of a minimalist does not have to
be deprived. Rather, it is simple living focused on what is truly
needed to make a person happy and can be filled with enriching
experiences—as demonstrated by Peter’s life. Peter spent time in the
army and in the monastery. He has bungee-jumped in New Zealand and sky
dived in Australia. He has floated on the lowest point of Earth and
ridden a camel to the Great Pyramids. He also spent time in Europe,
South America, and Central America. Peter holds a Bachelor in
Information Technology from an Australian University and an Executive
MBA from an American University.
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