This is a guest post from Peter Lawrence author of The Happy Minimalist. He 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. Peter attributes his early retirement to his minimalist lifestyle.

Sometimes, some people can keep eating and yet continue to feel hungry. Gorging oneself with empty calories is no substitute for the essential nutrients that the body needs. Eating a variety of different colors of fruits and vegetables together with nuts, grains and legumes can provide the necessary nutrients that the body needs such that one can actually cut down on the calories without experiencing hunger. Calorie restriction is a proven way to slow the aging process and maintain peak vitality. The goal should then be to consume nutrition dense food rather than calorie rich foods. Unfortunately, many people choose the latter. And when they continue to feel hungry, they continue to stuff themselves with the same junk, processed or packaged foods. But no amount of foods rich in energy but poor in nutrition will fulfill the body’s craving. Likewise, no amount of material stuff can fulfill our highest needs.

In 1943, Abraham Maslow put forth his theory of human motivation commonly known as Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. At the bottom of the pyramid are the physiological needs. At the apex is the need for self-actualization. In the developed world, despite having easily fulfilled our lower level needs, many don’t seem fulfilled. The reason is they are trying to satisfy their highest need with lower level stuff. The pursuit to keep up and beat the Joneses is deemed as the ultimate success. As such, they continue to play in the lower levels of the pyramid instead of recognizing that they have enough and transcending. As long as you are stuck in the mode that you have to have a bigger house, a faster car etc; you are never going to be fully satisfied .Just as your body’s needs cannot be satisfied with empty calories, your soul’s cravings cannot be satisfied by material stuff either. 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.”

Originally posted 2011-02-15 13:14:38.