Today I started reading The 100 Thing Challenge by Dave Bruno. I’ve raced right through Part 1 of the book along with the appendices and really want to record my thoughts about it before I go on.
First of all, think about it. 100 things. As Americans we all own many more than 100 things. Most of us own ridiculously more than 100 things.
As an Organizer I can tell you from first hand experience that many, many people own an uncountable number of things. And – I can tell you that these things we own are not giving us satisfaction. They are owning us. We spend time, physical energy, emotional energy, and money trying to manage them.
I started reading thinking we would just be hearing about how to get down to 100 things and how life might change if we did that. What I read was different in that Bruno shared his process of giving things up. He shared which ones were the hardest and which were not as difficult as he thought they would be to give up. His experiences surprised him a bit in this area, which has also been true for some of my Organizing clients.
He also talks about how giving something up can be freeing. For example, I have supplies for making hand-made rugs which I have given as gifts in the past. I enjoy making them. I have a couple of them myself, and I like to give them as gifts. However, I’ve not made a rug in well over a year. In Bruno’s examples, these supplies might be giving me a case of the “shoulds” as I would say. “I should be using those supplies.” “I should be making rugs for gifts.” (I used my own example because I don’t want to take anything away from the book for you when you read it.)
Now, the “shoulds” are a problem in my opinion because they make you feel bad. Nobody I know ever said to themselves, “I should be doing X” and then felt really great about themselves. “Shoulds” are a way for us to criticize ourselves and tend to keep us stuck. “Shoulds” are often left over from a desire that was abandoned for one reason or another. Some times, letting those things go is right and appropriate. However, by keeping the stuff associated with that desire, we keep ourselves stuck in that place in time, unable to move forward.
I was surprised and delighted by how much of Part 1 set up the challenge and went into the letting go of the stuff. Also surprising was the extent to which he discussed the rules and how it all affected his family.
So. What do you think? Could you live with just 100 personal belongings? This question is making me think hard about the things I own and how much of it I could really give up. I’m not sure yet if I’m going to undertake a 100 thing challenge but I will certainly be considering some more downsizing in several areas of my life.
Once you read the book (the first half anyway!) come back and let me know what you think. I’m really interested to hear how it affects everyone’s thinking about the things you own.
Hopefully I’ve done his work justice here with this half-review. I’ll do another when I finish Part 2.