Thursday, September 25, 2008

'The Happy Minimalist' by Peter Lawrence

Recently I was approached by the author of the book 'The Happy Minimalist' to review it here on my blog. I have been approached in the past to review books on many varied topics, but have refused due to the fact that I haven't been too keen on their content. This time though is different.

The author Peter Lawrence, has come from a simple beginning. He was born in Singapore and has now retired (at a wonderfully early age due to his minimalist lifestyle) in the USA. In between that he has gathered degrees from universities in two different countries and lived the very life that has led to the publication of his book.

He discusses not only how to be happy in a life that contains the minimum of material wealth, but how important it is for us to live this way. While many people before Peter have written books on how to live a happy and simple life (Living The Good Life by Linda Cockburn springs straight to mind), this book explains more fully why we must as a whole change our very attitude to the unsustainable lifestyle so many of us in the western world lead today.

And thanks to the kind permission of Peter, I am able to include an excerpt from his book. I think this first paragraph sums up nicely both the book itself and the very lifestyle that myself and many others are now trying so desperately to live by:

What is a Minimalist?

The Compact Oxford English Dictionary explains it as:

1. an advocate or practitioner of minimal art or music
2. an advocate of moderate political reform

My scope of a minimalist is broader than the typical dictionary definition. I describe a minimalist as a person who minimizes everything and anything to what is absolutely necessary. According to Greek philosopher Epicurus, whose thinking encapsulates my view, the troubles entailed by maintaining an extravagant lifestyle tend to outweigh the pleasure of enjoying that lifestyle. He recommended that what was necessary for life and happiness be maintained at minimal cost, believing that anything beyond what is necessary should either be tempered by moderation or completely avoided.

Unfortunately the book is not yet available here in Australia. It can however be purchased via Peter's website or at Amazon

1 comment:

Alexandra Hübner said...

I'm from Bremen in Northern Germany and I've just finished reading the book in roughly 3 hours. It really resonated with me, as I've been concerned for quite a while about what will happen to our planet. This book should become a bestseller. My husband and I are trying to become minimalist, but we have been very moderate in our achievements. Nevertheless we do not own a family car, if possible we go to places by bike (also to my parents who live 20 km away) we've exchanged our light bulbs, try to avoid waste, but still live in a "normal" appartment with a "normal" life. It seems to be quite difficult to escape the lure of advertisement although we don't watch TV any more. This (besides not owning a car) makes us already strange for some people but it has increased my personal sense of freedom. In 2 years we are going on a sabbatical, cycling from Seattle USA to Peru and have to give up a lot of our household before. (We already sold our house, lots of books, and have given away lots of things) I hope after that we can start a new minimalised life.