23 Lessons from The 100 Thing Challenge

In the previous post, I made a confession that I now believe that the 100 Thing Challenge is a mainstream approach to simple living.

I shared with you the reasons why I believe so and also included the interview I did with Dave Bruno who initiated this movement against the American-style consumerism.

In this post, I would like to share with you a few lessons that stood out for me in Dave’s book, The 100 Thing Challenge.

Here are 23 Lessons from the 100 Thing Challenge:

1. My desire to live a meaningful life was getting forestalled by the petty, day-to-day demands of all my stuff.

2. Contentment is an attitudinal choice, not a buyable product.

3. I decided that it wasn’t consumption per se that was my issue, it was overconsumption — which implies that the problem is consuming more that is necessary.

4. I wanted to be more free, less burdened, and more joyful.

5. “All the toil of man is for his mouth, yet his appetite is not satisfied” – King Solomon

6. Here’s the bottom line: what we really want we can not buy.

7. It is easy to get started thinking; it is hard to follow through doing.

8. After purging my toy trains and rock climbing gear, it was so nice to no longer be burdened by what had gone unrealized in my past.

9. We put an impressive amount of faith in the capacity of material things that other people make to repair the troubled circumstances of our own creation.

10. As we shop, when do we transition from searching for the best-quality product to seeking the best-branded product? When is the moment we stop looking for something of value and start desiring something that we think will make us more valuable ourselves?

11. This quick count of my daily usage of things was a new eye-opener: it only took fourteen things to get through most days.

12. Or was it striking because, despite living with so few things, my day-to-day life didn’t really change much? The answers to these  questions are the naughty secret of the 100 Thing Challenge. Life is just about the same without an abundance of stuff — shhshh, quiet now — except without all that crap, there’s more room for living life to the fullest.

13. He said that my blog was encouraging him to revert to a simpler way of living because possessions were getting in the way of what was important to him.

14. I have regularly used stuff to bridge the space between who I am and who I think I would like to be.

15. The truth is that our material possessions, rather than helping us understand our limits and our place in the world, regularly distort our perspective.

16. Dallas Willard, a philosopher at the University of Southern California, says about the humble life: “To be humble simply means to be realistic about yourself.”

17. I ended the year no longer a slave to my stuff…The 100 Thing Challenge was subversive and empowering. It defied the logic of American-style consumerism, which insists that we need more and more things to be content.

18. What I have learned, though, is that the tight squeeze of the 100 Thing Challenge opens up to far greater possibilities than the unmistakable double-wide doors that comfortably lead into stores.

19. The 100 Thing Challenge has afforded me the great privilege of connecting with many people all over the world who want their lives to be more valuable than the sum of their material possessions.

20. The physical and spiritual space of this simple life gives me the room I need to pursue “little meaningful goods” in all the things I do.

21. You’re not defined by your stuff. I felt liberated and freed when I unburdened myself. I felt more alive and happier, not diminished and lonely. So, don’t agonize over it. Only a few things are truly irreplaceable, and even those are not always something you want to keep.

22. Avoid malls!

23. Be careful doing the 100 Thing Challenge. It’s quite possible that once you’re done, you will find yourself content without much stuff. You’ll find that you no longer have a compulsion to get more and more. Then you’ll have to figure out something other than shopping to do with your time, money, and talents.


What are the lessons that resonated with you the most?

Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

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2 Responses to 23 Lessons from The 100 Thing Challenge

  1. Cece August 22, 2012 at 1:22 am #

    I love what you mentioned about people trying to find more self-worth in expensive objects. While beautiful, potentially expensive items may be delightful, we mustn’t confuse them with being a real validation of our own worth. You are not what you have, you are who you are. And that will always be.

    • Mohamed Tohami August 22, 2012 at 10:26 am #

      Exactly. You nailed it Cece. We can enjoy expensive items without letting it define who we are and how much we are worth.

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