What is the KISS Method and How to Use It

You have heard of the hygge method, minimalism, and fung  shui, but have you ever heard of the KISS method? The KISS method takes all of the complication out of life. It makes decisions easier, it makes life easier. So what is it?

What is the kiss method and how to use it

What does KISS Stand For?

KISS stands for Keep It Simple Silly (or stupid if you are an honest old cowboy). I learned this method when I was still training horses for a living, and I did learn it from an old cowboy. I was trying to get a young horse to agree to my terms. In my infinite wisdom, I had read all of the literature, broke a few horses, and really thought I knew everything.

Aahhh to be young again

As I was hooking up a fairly complicated contraption to force the horse to do what I wanted him to do, the old cowboy walked up. “What are you doing Shell?”

I explained. At length.

He laughed “KISS has always worked for me, you might want to try it”

“What’s KISS?” I asked, slightly afraid of the answer.

“Keep it simple stupid” and he walked away.

After arguing with the horse for an hour and making minimal progress. I untacked the horse and went to find the cowboy. I needed some answers. He explained “You don’t need all of that complicated equipment, just get on the horse and ride”

The KISS Method for Life

My old friend has passed on and I no longer train horses for a living, but his words that day have stuck with me for the past 20 years.  As humans we overcomplicate things, and it usually gets us into trouble.  From complex investment options (hello housing bubble) to over-analyzing something a loved one said (did he really mean…) humans are experts at complicating things that aren’t really that complicated.

When he said he was tired, he meant he was tired.

When the salesman used 5000 words when 50 would have done, he is selling you snake oil.

When we spend weeks analyzing a decision, we probably just need to get on the horse and ride. Metaphorically speaking.

Simple is Not Always Easy

The decision you are stressing about; you know the answer. You might not like the answer, but chances are you do know it.  We tend to complicate things when we don’t like the answer. When the answer means more work or losing out on something we want, we start looking for options.

Remember when you were a kid and your parents told you “if you would have just done it when I asked, you would be done and out to play already.” Yea, it’s like that. If you make the decision and do the work, you could have been out playing already.

Simple doesn’t mean easy. If your child asks you to do something you don’t think they should do, the answer is no. Except, that face. And everyone else is going. If I say no am I depriving my child of something?

This is how we complicate things.

We know if we stick to our guns and say NO. Our child might get mad at us. He or she will surely whine, complain, beg, and depending on the age of the child, through a fit.  We know all of those things are going to take an emotional and physical toll on us. We are going to have to fight with the child and say no a thousand more times.

But NO is still the right answer.

Stay Calm and KISS

Stay calm, move forward. That is the basis of the KISS method. You make a decision, and you do it. No need to freak out or stress about a decision. Make your decision and move forward. If it doesn’t turn out like you thought it would (and many times it won’t), you still stay calm, make a decision and move forward.

Big decisions might take a little bit of thought, but chances are you have a gut feeling about the answer. That feeling might go against someone else’s wishes, or be totally crazy to some people, but that doesn’t make it the wrong answer. Just get on and ride.

Photo by Fabian Burghardt on Unsplash

A Bit More Wisdom From the Horses

I learned a lot of things training horses that translate well into the real world. Here are a few more gems I have learned that might help you too.

  • Don’t use force. You will never force a horse to do anything, you have to make him want to. Same goes for people. Force breeds resentment and bad feelings. This goes for children, spouses, friends, and bosses.
  • Make the right thing more comfortable than the wrong thing. If you would like someone to treat you differently, make the way you would like to be treated easy and the wrong way hard. You can do this by asking hard questions or simply expressing your displeasure.
  • Celebrate good choices, even if they are tiny accomplishments. This goes along with making the right thing more comfortable than the wrong thing. A pat on the back is much better than a slap in the face.
  • Pick your battles. Not every bad decision requires a come to Jesus meeting, choose simple corrections when you can.
  • Allow learning from mistakes. Horses who can make good decisions on their own make better partners. People who can make good decisions are the same. Sometimes we need to allow someone a bad decision so they can learn from it.

I could go on, but in the interest of not boring you, I will stop there.  If you look at all of these little gems, you will see the KISS method shining through.  I would write a book about this method is so simple a book isn’t required.

Keep It Simple Silly

Make the decision. Move forward. If you need 5000 words to explain something to someone, you are over-complicating it. And chances are you are doing it to avoid the answer you already know.

It really is that simple, just get on and ride.



  1. Joleisa

    December 2, 2017 at 6:33 am

    Ah! This is the best thing I’ve read today and I will definitely be sharing it’s WISDOM. Thanks so much. If we took this on board, life wouldn’t be so complicated at all!

    1. Michele Cook

      December 2, 2017 at 9:44 pm

      Thanks Joleisa, those old cowboys might have gotten a few things right!

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