The 100 Thing Challenge by Dave Bruno

The 100 Thing Challenge: How I Got Rid of Almost Everything, Remade My Life, and Regained My Soul by Dave Bruno



Format: Ebook

Source: from the library  (Overdrive)

Apparently, I wanted to read this way back in July when I began to get interested in minimalism and the simplicity movement.

In 2009, Dave Bruno decided to create the 100 Thing Challenge. He was overwhelmed with the amount of stuff filling up his family’s house, and the need to constantly buy things he didn’t use. So his Challenge was to own only 100 things for one year, and write about it on his blog. Then he expanded the blog posts into this book. He counted his individual items, but not items he shared with his wife and daughters. Books counted as “1 library,” though he didn’t mention how many books he had.

Bruno narrowed down his hobbies during the challenge. He started out with hiking, camping, woodworking, and making model trains. He realized he was drawn to building expensive model trains because his dad had created one for him as a kid, and they made him think of his dad. He had to let go of the past. He had woodworking equipment stashed in his garage because he imagined himself a “master woodworker.” This imaginary woodworker had a different temperament than Dave himself, so by getting rid of the woodworking tools, he let go of that image of himself. These sections were very thought-provoking. Things he didn’t need reminded him of the past, or he envisioned himself using them in the future, and ended up distracting him from his life with friends and family.

As Bruno is Christian, he did make a few Bible references. It wasn’t enough to make me stop reading though. There was also an odd section where he went on a hiking trip and met a woman who was unprepared for weather changes on the trail. Later his friend, also Christian, said the woman “was Satan,” there to tempt him, but he said he wasn’t tempted at all–he just helped a less experienced hiker. I’m not sure what that section had to do with minimalism or simplicity– maybe knowing the weather where you are and taking only what you need. A chapter I liked better was the one where he talked about his “perfect day”: doing work he enjoyed, spending time outdoors, and spending time with his family, which were the “things” he really wanted after all.

The end of the book has a “create your own challenge” chapter. Bruno does reiterate that the challenge is not for everyone–previously he had mentioned trying to pare down his young daughters’ toys, which they found distressing. He also mentioned that he picked 100 things, but other people could pick different minimal numbers of things to own, or adapt his challenge in other ways. One adaption he mentioned that I’m familiar with was blogger and author Leo Babauta‘s list of 50 possessions from 2010, which is here.

Overall, I liked this book. It made me think a lot about how I use the things I own, how I spend my time, and how many things I actually need to have the life I want.