Keep it Simple – Episode 181

the tomb of the soulDo you overcomplicate your life? How can we “Keep it Simple”?

Let’s look at the section of How Al-Anon Works about the slogan “Keep it Simple”. How would you relate each of these sentences to your life?

  • When coping with the baffling and often overwhelming effects of alcoholism, the simpler and more straightforward the approach, the better. The slogan, “Keep It Simple,” makes just that point.
  • When life seems unmanageable or confusing, many of us unknowingly complicate matters even further by trying to anticipate everything that could go wrong, so that we will be prepared to respond.
  • This slogan reminds us that we can’t control every possible outcome to every situation and that trying to do so makes our lives more difficult and more stressful than they already are.
  • When we “Keep It Simple,” we try to take things at face value,
    • looking at what is actually happening
    • rather than the 50 things that might or might not follow.
  • Perhaps we can approach large projects and challenges slowly, step by step, in manageable stages rather than all at once.
  • Sometimes we must act with haste,
    • but not every new task or unexpected event is a crisis.
  • Our initial, fearful responses may arise more from habit rather than necessity.
  • In time, we learn that if we are feeling paralyzed and overwhelmed, we may be complicating matters
    • or taking on more than we can handle for this moment or this day,
    • and that we may have better luck by simplifying what we are trying to accomplish.
  • We can relax and try to be more gentle with ourselves,
    • trusting that by putting one foot in front of the other, we will eventually get where we are going.

And a couple of related slogans:

  • Easy does it.
  • First things first.

Our topic for next week is anger. Please call us at 734-707-8795 or email with your questions or experience, strength and hope. Or just leave a comment right here.


The reading “Set in Stone” is from the book Walking Towards Morning by Victoria Safford.

I mentioned some previous episodes: 180: Being Thankful, and 119: Worry.

Music from the show

Simple Gifts, performed by Yo-Yo Ma and Alison Krauss

Simplicity by Bob Seger


2 comments on “Keep it Simple – Episode 181

  1. Maria says:

    Hi Spencer. I’m a relatively new listener and I’m discovering that all of the topics I’ve listened to thus far have applied to my recovery program (AA.) Thanks for your commitment; what you’re doing is a tremendous service.

    The topic “Keep It Simple” is a good one for me, and an excellent reminder, particularly now during the holiday season. It was only through recovery that I became aware of just how much of a control freak I was, and that I always complicated things much more than they needed to be. I never thought I made my own chaos, but now I can look back and laugh at the times I made my life absolutely insane…with the best of intentions, of course.

    A prime example is when I planned my daughter’s wedding. She left all the details up to me–how dangerous was that to do to an alcoholic?! I chose it would be held on Peanut Island near West Palm Beach, Florida. Everything–and I mean everything–needed to be brought over by boat. People, food and drink, the DJ and all his equipment, tables, chairs, flowers, decorations, etc. Everything! I didn’t factor in that it would be March, and therefore the weather could potentially be very windy and unpredictable. And it was.

    Surprisingly, there were no catastrophes and most everything went off without a hitch. But I had made myself so crazy that I don’t remember most of it and certainly didn’t enjoy myself.

    My program tells me not to regret the past or shut the door on it, and memories like this will help me to remember to keep it simple. Progess, not perfection.

    Thanks for all you do, Spencer!


    1. Donna says:

      Thank you for this post Maria.

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