If You Want to be Happy, All You Have to Do is KISS

I came across an article in Yoga Journal today that reminded me of my days as a teacher.

I found teaching very challenging. I felt emotionally and physically drained every day. I never felt like I did enough. I was always making additional handouts, looking for more manipulatives, researching different approaches, rearranging the room for maximum efficiency.There was always something and I always felt like time was imperative. After all, I was responsible for children, our most precious and valuable assets! I literally drove myself crazy trying to meet the standards and expectations of Teach For America, the school administration, the state of Louisiana, IDEA regulations, the parents, the students and most importantly myself. What I didn’t realize was that teaching is an art and although there is merit to research based teaching approaches and curriculums, what truly matters is honing the art of teaching.

How do you do that? Well, as my good friend and fellow teacher, Holly, told me, all you have to do is KISS.

No she didn’t mean make-out at school. It was an awesome acronym for:





Holly could always make me smile. 🙂

Now that my teaching days are behind me (for now anyway) I realize that KISS applies to every facet of my life. I would even venture to say that the greatest mysteries of life are not nearly as complex as we make them out to be. This is a trick of our Ego. The mind wants things to be intricate and complex and structured, because that’s how the mind operates, but that is not the true way of the world. The world is only structured some of the time, other times it’s very random. The Universe is made of prickles and goo as Alan Watts would say. Please allow him (and Matt Stone and Trey Parker) to illustrate this concept for me:

Simplicity lies in one’s ability to shift seamlessly from prickly to gooey, back and forth and back and forth, like the ocean tides. If we are always focused on security, rules and structure we become rigid and fearful. If we are always focused on freedom, creativity and excitement we become too gooey, shapeless, formless, meaningless. The key is finding the balance between the two. Knowing when to act and when to allow.

Simplicity also lies in detachment. If I have no preferences I can always make the best of my surroundings and experiences. Materialism is a sickness. We have become addicted to our things, our toys, our structure, our rules. I would even argue we have become attached to our very form. We must learn to let go a little, to become a bit more gooey and allow ourselves to become shape shifters. I believe if we can change our thinking, we can change the world.

Here is the article that sparked my creative juices today. I hope you enjoy it and have found something useful in my words as well.



Most spiritual traditions encourage simple living, and yoga is no exception. In the Yoga Sutra, Patanjali laid out the yamas (moral restraints) and niyamas (observances), a set of 10 principles that are crucial to one’s progress along the yogic path. One of the yamas is aparigraha, often translated as “greedlessness.”

The desire for external wealth causes unhappiness on both a practical level and a spiritual one. In order to afford things, you have to work long hours, leaving you less time for what truly sustains you, whether that’s yoga and meditation, a hobby, or time with your kids. An expensive lifestyle also limits your choice of career, forcing you to take a high-paying job that may not be fulfilling. It’s hard to transcend the desire for external things when we see hundreds of ads implying that happiness lies in a new iPod, laptop, or car. But despite those commercial messages, acquisition doesn’t equal happiness. Many yogis find that if they transcend their material cravings, they can lead more satisfying, albeit more modest, lives. – Yoga Journal


6 responses to “If You Want to be Happy, All You Have to Do is KISS

  1. I really enjoyed this post, Kaycers. Simplicity is a lifestyle that I became intrigued with several years ago and I began reading anything I could get my hands on about it. The thing I love the most about it is that it doesn’t claim to be the same thing for every individual who chooses it. Each of us decides what we want to bring into our lives to make it simpler and what we want to let go of to do the same.

    If paying someone to clean my house makes my life simpler and I have the funds for it, so be it. If I am able to see the beauty in the process of cleaning my own home and bask in the satisfaction of the finished product, so be it.

    It has been such a driving force for me that I proclaimed myself, The Simplification Coach, once I completed my life coach certification requirements a few years back. Your post speaks to me on a very personal level and it reminded me of a few things that I seemed to have allowed myself to forget in the past couple of weeks. Thank you.

    • Paula, Coach me! haha I can write like this, but in real life I am overcomplicated queen! I am thinking about going home and de-cluttering the house this week. I have jewelry that is over 10 years old and never been worn. I have magazines I’ll never look at. I have way too many clothes and shoes…it’s ridiculous how physically cluttered my space can get sometimes. I feel like this is a reflection of my inner world. I wonder if by throwing out some of my crap I can have a sort of catharsis and let go of limiting beliefs and behaviors as well.

      I enjoy getting comments so much. I love the opportunity to interact with my readers and I truly appreciate you taking the time to read my post AND leave me such a thoughtful comment.


      • The physical clutter happens to most everyone, including me from time to time. I take great satisfaction in bringing it back to where I want it to be though. When I am in my de-clutter mode, there is nothing sacred but my children. 🙂 Then I get so excited that I can’t wait to tackle the next space. One area at a time always makes it more approachable for me.

        The effect it will have on you can only be determined by jumping in and doing it. I’d love to hear how it goes once you’ve had the opportunity to do it, if you don’t mind sharing.

        A question that I ask myself and each of my clients is, “What do you want your life to look like?” It applies to all aspects of life and has a big impact on a person, when the time is right for her/him.

        hugs to you, paula

  2. What do I want my life to look like?
    Wow…that’s a great way to frame that question. I will meditate with that this week. I know that cluttered and sloppy isn’t what I really want so I guess I’ll start with the house! haha. One. room. at. a. time.

    Great advice. I bet you’re a wonderful coach! ❤

    Peace and Joy,


  3. I love the “prckles and goo” theory Watts describes. I just listened to this the other day actually…funny you brought it up 🙂 I am a firm believer that materialism is a sickness. I was once a very unhappy person that thought by making more money and filling my life with material items I could be happy. It turns out I didn’t get happier…I just got so busy working for all these things that I didn’t have time to realize I was unhappy both at work and at home. All it took was a break from all my work and a couple days under a tree at a park for me to have a complete turn around and realization of what I needed in my life. Actually I take that back, I don’t think in those moments I realized what I needed, but maybe what I didn’t need. Either way, though I went through some complications and crazy “letting go” emotional spirals, I made it out alive 🙂 and now I can say I am truly happy. I let go of everything literally besides my clothes and books….I started over. Did I not regain a lot of material things? Yes, but I got them when it was time and I got things that called to me, not things that I thought were “in” or would be the answer to all my problems. I have just enough and I know now through my experience that if today what I have rebuilt was taken…I would be perfectly okay.

  4. Thanks for the comment Sara. I think your story is an excellent example of “waking up” because as you said you didn’t even realize how unhappy you were for a while. I think we can all have the tendency to become attached to material possessions, people and even our own actions and beliefs.
    The “sickness” of materialism, in my opinion, comes from clinging or grasping to these things in our lives. When we cling to things we become stagnant and we forget that life is about movement, change and learning. When we become stagnant we become fearful and anxious and resistant to change.
    We have been in this “mode” for too long as individuals and as a society and it has put us out of harmony with the Nature. Too many prickles and not enough goo. I think this is why things seem to be crumbling or “falling apart” around the world right now. When a rigid structure falls it shatters. That’s why I’m trying to be as gooey as possible these days. hahaha.

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