The KISS Principle


I really like Gene Simmons but this is not about his band.  Nor is it about the affection one person shows another.  This is all about the process of thinking.  KISS is an acronym that means “Keep It Simple Sweetheart.”  It is really a very simple principle too but we humans seem to take great pride in complicating the hell out of just about everything.

I believe that just about every waking minute of our lives we are confronted with choices and questions.  Most of these we respond to in an automatic sort of way.  The answer is so obvious we do not waste a millisecond considering it.  And 999 time out of 1000 that is the correct response, the right answer.

But also every day, and numerous times every day, we are confronted with decisions that do require a varying degree of consideration.  One of the more common decisions comes when we are driving a car and come up on an intersection where the light has just turned yellow.  The correct response, every single time, is to stop, even when we are feeling rushed, late, and stressed.  Maybe even, particularly so at such times.  I believe we all know we should stop when we see the light turn yellow, but for some reason we decide it is worth it to take a chance of making it through the intersection safely.  But it is that one time in a thousand that we do not make it through safely that we should stop every time.  The simple answer here is, stopping every time keeps it simple.

We human love to think about what we believe is going to happen tomorrow, next week, next month, and even next year.  Such thinking can, and many times does, lead us to obsessing over trying to plan or worrying about what we perceive the future holds.  We seem to go through this long list of “what if” which is an exercise in insanity as such things are almost impossible to predict.  The keep it simple principle says that you figure out what you can do, right now, about the impending situation and then put it out of your mind.   What is really important tomorrow is of little or no import today.  Having made the decision on how to proceed tomorrow we need to return our focus to what we are doing today.

Another situation is how we human love to think we know how someone is going to respond to us.  We, for example, would love someone to do something for us but since we see what we want of this person to be a “big thing” we decide that they will of course turn us down.  That is always a bad analysis even when we believe we have compelling evidence to support our perception.  The thing is, is cannot possibly know how a person is going to respond to and answer a question until you ask them.  The keep it simple principle says that you can never ever think you know how a person is going to respond.  And that includes when you do get the response you expected because until the other person has responded, you just cannot know for certain.

Another thing we humans love to do is over plan things.  A situation will arise that is particularly important to us, say a large get together.  We are responsible for planning the event but then we try to compensate for every conceivable situation imaginable.  But the two things we try to control are usually the most unreasonable.  First we try to figure out what everyone is going to want or need.  We drive ourselves nuts trying to accommodate all those perceived needs and desires.  The keep it simple principle says that you go only as far as is reasonable in accommodations.  A funny thing happens when you make a simple plan and stick to it, people will generally accommodate themselves to that plan rather than the other way around.  The second keep it simple principle says that where the weather is important to an event, do your best to choose wisely and then put it out of your mind.  Fabulous weddings happen on stormy days, even when everyone wishes for something different.  I picked the weather because it is one of the best examples of something we humans have absolutely no control over.  Our recognition of those things we have no control over helps us achieve the greatest success possible.

The basis of the KISS principle is focus.  When any sort of decision is in the offing, stay focused on that decision alone.  Avoid dragging in anything peripheral to it as that just tends to confuse things and cloud the decision-making process.  Always ask yourself how much you can do right this moment that will have an effect on the decision.  Once you have done everything you can do right now, let the rest of it go until you are either at the decision point or at a point when there is something else you can do.  The most difficult part of this process is accepting those things you have no control over.  But once you have done that, it is amazing the clarity you get with regards to your future.

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