100 Things: The New Minimalism

Whereas the Lord tells us to sell, we buy instead and accumulate. St. Cyprian of Carthage (c.210-258)

Photo courtesy of mudeth

Recently, two very serious Christian friends asked me if I had heard about the minimalist movement called 100 Things. Nope. It was described to me as simply (pun intended) keeping 100 possessions. This new minimalism is in reaction to rampant consumerism that has stolen our joy, created debt, and made our lives worse with worry. I got home from my appointments and immediately loaded the back of my car with 20 t-shirts, 5 dress shirts, 3 pairs of pants, a computer bag, some hats and a pair of black dress shoes I had not worn the past 5 years. And I am just getting warmed up.

After this quick and easy purge I googled ‘100 things’ and found a great article from Time and more importantly the site by Dave Bruno featured in the Time article. Bruno has really caught my interest. I read over the 100 things he is keeping. I got more interested when I saw that the first 3 on his list were Bibles.

I have long practiced giving away clothes and things I haven’t used for over a year. But I am far from the simplicity and freedom in the Lord that I desire. I am reflecting on the 100 things I can’t live without. More importantly I am tossing things. Lots of things.

I would love to hear from you. If you were only going to keep 100 personal possessions what would they be? The kicker (again pun intended) is whether to count a pair of shoes as 1 or each shoe separately!!



Filed under A Good Life

20 responses to “100 Things: The New Minimalism

  1. s-p

    I can see how one could get pharisaical about the list real quick… like, is everything hooked by cables to my computer count as “one computer” or do I count them as separate peripherals…that’s 30 things right there! LOL! But, yeah, what a challenge. Thanks for the link and post.

    • Fr. James Coles

      Agreed S-P,
      Here are Bruno’s rules: Remember, this is my 100 Thing Challenge. I get to set the rules and decide when a rule can be stretched or outright broken. Basically I’m going by the spirit of the challenge not the letter of the challenge.
      BLessings of the Lord,

  2. I have actually made my 100 items list, and am working on getting down to it. It’s good to see an Orthodox priest encouraging the practice of simple living.

  3. Tami Heim

    Challenge accepted. Because in my heart I already know what this will do – thank you in advance.

  4. Milana Sheton

    I have more clothes, shoes, purses, accessories and other items bursting out of my closets. I have even set up more clothes and shoe racks because all my closets are full. I keep buying more and the what is awful about the whole thing is I probably only wear about 1/8 of what is in those closets. I no longer have a job that I have to get up and get dressed for. That was my life before, my life now is completely different. I look around at all my stuff and think one day I will wear it all again so it remains as my possessions. It’s hard to let go but it’s time to try.

  5. Fr Nathan Thompson

    Do we get to decide which 100 things our spouse and children keep?

  6. It is not whether you have things, but whether the things have you.

  7. mangaloverme

    Sounds like an interesting project. I keep oscillating between a desire to own fewer things and a background in art. I feel bad both if I own a lot of stuff and if I’m neglecting to make neat things for people… so far it seems a no-win thing, but this may just be because I’m often having to compress everything I’ll need for four months or so into the luggage allowable on a public bus (thus, keeping less has been winning lately, but mostly because I leave everything else at my parents house, since I can’t very well tell what’s mine and what’s theirs).

  8. And you have to count every web page as an item too? Otherwise: kindle=1 bookshelf-full=2000. There is a need for new calculus here, methinks.
    I know what you mean, but it just can’t be that simple.

  9. An Anxious Anglican

    I wonder if I can count my ever-proliferating number of books as one library? 🙂

    • Fr. James Coles

      I am not an extremist – I am not sure I will come close to 100 things. I am firmly in the camp that books count as one library. All underwear together count as one. All socks together count as one. But not all three guitars count as one and not all headphones count as one. A computer, keyboard and all of it’s cords is one but the laptop and the desktop count as two.

      There are guys getting rid of their washer and dryer and sending their clothes out to be cleaned. People are giving away weights and joining gyms. Somethings I am putting in the wife / kids column. There are guys giving away their tools – I am going to stuff the tool box and call it one.

      But with all the corner cutting there is still a lot of work for me to get down to 100 things.
      Fr. James

  10. Geekysciencegirl

    Last year I lost all of my possessions except 3 changes of clothes, 2 pairs of shoes, and 4 books, and my icons in a house fire. (miraculously, the icons were scorched but otherwise unharmed). Later, when I inventoried my lost belongings, I was shocked to see how much junk/stuff I owned pre-fire! Now, the struggle for me as I re-purchase things I need, is discerning if I really need them, or if I just desire to have them. I have failed in many cases, and own much more than 100 things again, but it has been a blessing to purge and at least attempt to live more simply. I think this would be a good challenge going forward…

  11. Pupacios

    I am a natural hoarder (I think an inherited disorder) and whilst I don’t think I can be limited to 100 I think I can get the ball rolling by at least giving away the things I have never used but have kept for that rainy day – and there are many many things stored around the place. We are building a house this year and are deliberately making it small limiting the amount od space and the number of spare rooms that have allowed my disorder to flourish in the past. A great new years resolution.

  12. Linda Gillan

    Live simply so others may simply live.

  13. I am currently working on the 100 Things as well! Will likely make my list as a blog post soon. Regardless of whether we get to exactly 100 or not I think it is a worthwhile effort! Great blog.

  14. i agree on linda, live simply

  15. Kat S.

    I pretty much had a head start to minimalism in the first place with my clothing. I’m only 15, but I used to never like to shop with my mom,so it never happened. I have 1 pear of jeans that I wear constantly (of course, not on formal occasions. I have a skirt for that), 3 pairs of shoes(TOMS, school shoes, and athletic), and about 10 shirts for all occasions. I have undergarments, which includes 5 undershirts and I have 3 hoodies. I actually feel blessed that it happened this way and that I’m not stuck with a bulging, messy closet. It’s great to not have attachments.

  16. For the last 2 years I have moved for about 6 times…I used to have many “bargain” things…like 4 shirts in a price of one, but I used to wear them once.

    And all of that stuff I had to move with me.
    So, now I’m getting rid of many stuff, since receiving mails from flylady.net.

    I like this clip of George Carlin about stuff http://bit.ly/bJtK6U

  17. Pingback: Simple Can Be Awfully Complicated « Never Say Failsafe

  18. Ben

    I’ve just stumbled across the whole ‘Lifestyle Design’ concept a few months ago, and I’ve really got hooked on it.
    This 100 minimalist idea seems really intriguing, but how I could live on 100 items or less I have no idea. I think I have more than 100 items just in paperwork and legal documents.


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