SINGAPORE - At just 45, Dr Tham Wai Mun is already five years into retirement and enjoying every minute of it. She is living it up but not in the way you may imagine.
"I am fully occupied, and am full-time into spiritual cultivation and education."
It started when she met two people who retired early, inspiring her to do the same. She told herself: "If I have enough savings, I can retire early and do what I want to do."
She went on to complete her PhD in Chinese linguistics in 1998 and became an assistant professor of Chinese linguistics at Nanyang Technological University (NTU), a job she retired from in 2007.
She has since been keeping herself busy with volunteer work at the World Red Swastika Society, a charitable organisation where she is a management committee member and the head of meditation and propagation ministries (for women).
"A lot of people equate charity with money. They forget that it comes from the heart," she says.
"It's about pacifying minds and transforming lives. Kind words are more powerful than buying someone a lunch or a movie ticket.
"The biggest part of charity is moral education and I am trying to revive that...
"In many instances, we are troubled because we do not have a strong hold on morality."
At the society, she conducts classes on moral values. "They are found in almost all upright religious teachings but I wouldn't want to use religion. Religion puts boundaries around us. What I teach are universal values.
"I expound on great compassion, unconditional love. When we have that, we will know how to treat one another like brothers and sisters, sincerely."
Dr Tham, who is single, is also the treasurer of the school management committee of Red Swastika School.