A Minimalist Moment: Taking on the “100 Thing Challenge”

My unending quest towards minimalism and the state of less has led me to one of the most influential leaders in this movement. Whether intentionally or not, Dave Bruno of The 100 Thing Challenge phenomenon laid the gauntlet down for minimalists everywhere to take stock of their belongings, set a limit to those items and try to live with that number for a certain period of time without accumulating more.

Yes, that’s right. He asks you to list every single thing you own, or at least attempt it. As you look around your humble abode, you may be thinking “What the? That’s a recipe for insanity!”

So, of course I had to try this exercise.

Dave does provide some rules to keep frustration and suicidal tendencies at bay. For him, the experiment lasted one year and he gave himself permission to bend or break the rules as needed. As a family man, he only counted items that he personally owned, leaving out all the furnishings and household goods he shared with the wife and kids.

He also groups pesky multiples like socks and undies as one item, and techie items include their accessories. Books and collections may or may not be counted as one. Obviously, he encourages participants to create rules based on their own situations, which has prompted critics to point out whether a game with self-enforced refereeing constitutes a challenge.

Of course, the location-independent minimal extremists have taken it to a whole new level, pushing themselves to 75 or even 50 items on their microscopic lists of worldly possessions.

As for me? As a middle-aged boomer with a house and a husband and too many pets, my personal list comes to around 150, which includes a car and a ukulele. It does not include an extensive CD collection which is slowly becoming digitalized, or an accurate count of my paperclips and staples.

And, no, I will NOT list all 150 items on this blog. (I’ll wait until I’m down to 114.) And, yes, I have every intention of shrinking this list rather than growing it. For every item added, I will let go of one (or more) possessions.

Anyway, I think the anal among us (of which I am a card-carrying member) miss the point of Dave Bruno’s idea. It’s not about creating the world’s smallest or most essential list. He’s asking you to take responsibility for your stuff by making a list, and to physically write it down for you and/or all the world to see–and to acknowledge his three R’s:

Reduce (get rid of some of your stuff)

Refuse (to get more new stuff)

Rejigger (your priorities)

For me, this literal writing of a list was a pain in the patootie, and an excellent opportunity to really “feel” the amount of my stuff as I wrote it out by hand. I could even pause in my practice to purge something that wasn’t worth adding to the list.

And sometimes my hand refused to write an item down. (Ooooh, creepy, is it not?)

I, for one, think that everyone should give Dave Bruno’s 100 Thing Challenge, and anti-accumulation, a chance.

Want more? Check out my other Minimalist Moments:

Traveling Light

Organization–Do You Need It?

Hobbling the Hobbies