Don’t let too many ‘things’ spoil your life

When a writer applauds a book, I usually perk up my ears. So when my daughter’s friend, Cindy, talked about the book “The 100 Thing Challenge,” I took it seriously.
Intrigued with the title, I bought the book last weekend. And like readers around the world, I was hooked immediately!
This motivational January, 2011 publication tells the story of one man’s journey away from consumerism into a simple life.
Dave Bruno, an Internet entrepreneur, began his “100 thing” journey four years ago–in 2007. After his family of five had spent a few hours sweeping, vacuuming, doing laundry, trimming the yard, and picking up toys one Saturday in July of that year, Bruno finally was ready to get to his desk and do some office work.
But when he sat down at his desk, he was overwhelmed by the mess!
“Things had gotten out of control,” Bruno writes. “Objects on my desk were absorbed into an undifferentiated mass of clutter.
?“When I surveyed the hopelessness of the situation. I did what any emotionally healthy person would do. I procrastinated.”
During this procrastination stage, Bruno retreated to his walk-in closet and felt the same way there. He had too many clothes–too many shirts, too many shoes, too many belts, too much of everything.
After the closet, he went to the kitchen for a drink of water and saw the kitchen with new eyes. Their kitchen had 12 drawers, four of which were junk drawers.
“A full 33 percent of the sliding storage space in our kitchen is devoted to knickknacks, things we rarely, if ever, use,” he said.
And he hadn’t even counted two drawers so stuffed full of kitchen utensils that “we have trouble closing them.”
After that eye-opening experience, Bruno decided that “consumerism” was interfering with the good life he wanted to live.
“Maybe all my possessions were having fun bossing me around, yet I felt miserable,” he said.
So he made a goal to pare down his personal possessions to 100 things. Everything else he either gave away or packed away for later use.
Essential household items like furniture and cookware were excluded. But the family got rid of extra toys and Bruno’s laptop. They were ruthless.
Bruno was left with one pen, one mechanical pencil, and two pairs of jeans. Since his final count was only 96, his wife gave him an extra pair of jeans for Christmas—raising his final count to 97 things.
Bruno especially advises getting rid of things related to who you used to be and focusing on the present. Get rid of piano music if you no longer play, college notes, leather tooling equipment you haven’t used for 30 years.
As far as counting the 100 things, use your judgment.
Bruno counts a pair of shoes as one thing. One of his followers, however, counts all her shoes as one thing. And another counts each shoe as one thing.
Early on, Bruno established a website ( and was featured in news stories, including in a 2008 Time magazine article.
This media coverage led to a worldwide grassroots movement of minimalism. So by 2011, many people eagerly were awaiting his helpful book.
What about you? Are “things” weighing you down? If so, why not take the 100 thing challenge?
Marie Snider is an award-winning health care writer and syndicated columnist. Write her at or visit

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