Alcoholics Anonymous is a program full of adages. These short, memorable sayings provide in-the-moment guidance when life gets tough. Dr. Bob, one of AA’s cofounders, favored one phrase above all others: “Keep it simple.” He covered this subject in a speech just months before his death. When he spoke with Bill W. for the last time, he mentioned it again, saying, “Remember, Bill, let’s not louse this thing up. Let’s keep it simple!” Today, we’ll unpack this phrase, its meaning and its utility for all stages of recovery.
What Does KIS Mean?
You’ve probably heard people say that AA is a simple program for complicated people. This is the basis of “keep it simple.” This phrase, abbreviated as KIS or KISS, reminds us to focus on the core tenets of AA: loving each other, serving and connecting with our spirituality. The 12 Steps clearly outline what we should do and when we should do it. Additionally, we have plenty of footsteps to follow in—countless people have gotten sober by following those dozen measures. Keeping it simple means resisting the urge to complicate recovery. Instead, just focus on taking life one day at a time and doing the next right thing.
Why We Should Keep It Simple in Recovery
Addiction is chaos. It’s full of drama and shame, legal trouble and fractured relationships. Even living spaces reflect this; people in active addiction may lack consistent housing or let their homes fall into disrepair. This messiness exists in stark contrast to a life in recovery. While the early days after treatment may have their own ups and downs, they’re nothing compared to the highs and lows of active addiction. For some people, this presents a problem.
When things quiet down, you may find yourself feeling bored. Or you might feel overwhelmed by the requirements that come with sobriety, like attending meetings. If either mindset seems familiar, that’s exactly when you should tell yourself to keep it simple.
People who miss the anarchy of active addiction need to learn that life can be quiet, and that’s okay. There are ways to enrich your days without creating chaos. Deciding to KIS can provide regular reminders to avoid self-sabotage and stay on track.
Those who are overwhelmed need to remember that recovery doesn’t have to be complicated. Following the steps of AA, meeting with your counselor and fulfilling your program’s requirements can be easy. Instead of getting in your head and obsessing over what comes next, take a step back. You just have to take things one day at a time.
Keep It Simple Quotes
We’d like to close with some motivational quotes. We hope these words of wisdom will inspire you to incorporate simplicity into your recovery journey.
“Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.” – Unknown
“Simple can be harder than complex. You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.” – Steve Jobs
“Keep it simple. When you get too complex, you forget the obvious.” – Al McGuire
“Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.” – Lao Tzu
“Out of clutter find simplicity. From discord find harmony. In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.” – Albert Einstein
“The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so the necessary may speak.” – Hans Hofmann
“Keep it simple. Let’s do the obvious thing—the common thing—but let’s do it uncommonly well.” – Leo Burnett
Find Simplicity and Recovery at Still Waters
Nestled in the woods of Tennessee, Still Waters is a refuge for those committed to recovery. Our 12-Step immersion program offers men and women the opportunity to discover new ways of living. Those who have had multiple treatment experiences benefit from our hands-on, innovative approach. Whether you need fellowship, accountability or extended care, we can help. Reach out today to speak with a member of our admissions team.