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100 Things Challenge Complete

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A little over a year ago, I felt led to simplify my life in order to bless other people and put myself in a position to give more.

I set a goal that once Jan 1, 2011 rolled around, I would only own 100 things. At the time, I did not think I could do it…but I tried. I gave away more than a hundred tshirts, over thirty hoodies, sold my nice couches for $20/piece, gave away furniture to friends who wanted free desks, tables, lamps, rugs, plates, artwork, and much more. Then I felt the need to move out of my condo that I purchased earlier that year because it was a constant reminder of the materialistic nature of our society. I was constantly thinking of things to buy to fill an empty section of the house or what would be an upgrade to what I already had. The urge to spend was constantly bombarding my thoughts and I realized that the habit of spending was slowly consuming me.

As 2011 neared, I did not think I could get under the 100 item limit. But somehow I did.

When Jan 1, 2011 rolled around…I had given away or sold off most of my belongings and only owned 100 things. I felt somewhat liberated but at the same time very anxious. Could I make it through the year with only 100 items? It was very difficult at first because those old spending habits still lingered. My eyes still looked around for deals or ways to upgrade things that I already had. But my mentality slowly changed as the year went on. Here’s a quick summary.

Some Struggles:

– Old Spending Habits. I would browse deals websites and window shop or stay updated on tech gear that I ever so love doing. This made it completely difficult as I would tell myself that I was only looking without the intent of buying. After a couple months of struggling with this, I stopped and it was easier to not want things when you don’t really know what’s out there to want.

– Upgrade To Better Things. So one thing I really wanted to upgrade was my camera (and I did). I justified that by saying, well if I only have one camera it might as well be a really good camera. Even with this way of thinking I missed the point of being happy with what I already have. I realized this after I upgraded my camera but then made a commitment to stop buying new lenses and to just finish the year with what I had.

– Desire To Quit. There were times that I wanted to quit the challenge. I tried to justify the fact that I had already cut down to 100 items was good enough. I think the only things that kept me moving forward was my own pride of never quitting on anything I start on and the fear that I would have to make a blog post titled, “Why I Quit My 100 Thing Challenge.” Yea, that would not have been a good post!

It was definitely tough.

But after a while, I did not care for buying new things. I did not care for upgrading things that I had… but instead found myself to be content with the items that I already had. So what if my shirt had a little hole on the side of the seam…I’ll just wear a hoodie over it or put another tshirt on underneath. I found it easier to give and bless others. I started asking people if they were free to grab a meal and would surprise them by paying for the meal. I got to spend time with friends that I had not seen in a long time and at the same time bless them with food. I tried making “care packages” (I found out that this is extremely hard as a guy) for people who were starting a new phase in life…going to university, going on a mission trip, or starting seminary. I made a huge effort to drive long distances to hang out with friends for an evening, even if it meant only a couple of hours. Whether or not they knew that it was a huge sacrifice for me at times was not important. What mattered most to me was the fact that I had an opportunity to give and I took advantage of it.

Some Successes:

– Give More. I was able to give more financially to my church, to friends in need, to help fund mission trips, to take friends out to meals. But I also tried to take it one step further by giving more of my time as well to Fill-A-Belly, helping people move or run errands, supporting them at an event they were part of (directing a school play, playing in a show) and other things. It was great to see how appreciative people were.

– Taking Friends to Meals.  I love getting together with friends and pleasantly surprising them by paying for the entire meal. It’s something I really enjoy doing and I’m sure it’s something my friends enjoy too. This act of generosity is pretty contagious too. We’d eat as a group and another friend would jump in and pick up the tab for everybody or for my portion and say something like, “well Johnny you paid for it last time, I’d love to pay for you this time!”

– Encouragement For Others. I’ve had quite a few people who said that I inspired them. How? I don’t know. I’ve also had friends tell me that they were going to do a self assessment of the things they own and try to simplify as well. Whether or not they did…I have no idea. The important thing is to realize that living with things that you need instead of living with things that you want are two completely different things. And I think it is becoming increasingly difficult to be content with the things you have because of the world we live in. Consumerism and materialism seems to give a false sense of security and social status among the people you know. It seems as if we’re so concerned with our reputation that we fail on the individual and corporate levels to improve our own character. What I mean is…

Reputation – What others perceive you to be.
Character – Who you really are when nobody is looking.

We are so concerned with self-improving that we fail to look after other people in need, we fail to be content with things we have right now in life, and we fail to give ourselves but instead give to ourselves.

At the same time I am not saying that you should feel guilty for enjoying the blessings you have in your own life or if you have a good paying job that you should feel compelled to give away your salary. I believe these are a gift that you should enjoy yourself and more enjoyable when you can share those moments with family and friends.

Ecclesiastes 5:18-19
 Behold, what I have seen to be good and fitting is to eat and drink and find enjoyment in all the toil with which one toils under the sun the few days of his life that God has given him, for this is his lot. 19 Everyone also to whom God has given wealth and possessions and power to enjoy them, and to accept his lot and rejoice in his toil—this is the gift of God.

It’s not bad to be rich and enjoy your blessings either.

I am by no means claiming to have a laudable character. All I feel like I did was recognize things that needed to be changed within and these changes definitely made me somewhat of a better person in 2011. Therefore I am very happy that I did this 100 Thing Challenge.

And I leave you with a quote from one of my favorite authors.

Nothing that you have not given away will ever be really yours. – CS Lewis

Written by jonewantsm3

January 9, 2012 at 1:00 am

Posted in 100 Things

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