“Common sense is seeing things as they are; and doing things as they ought to be.”
― Harriet Beecher Stowe
There is a great deal of life that doesn’t come with instructions. Some decisions are almost automatic, we get tired and we rest, we get hungry and we eat, and these happen on a daily basis. Some decisions are not so automatic and require quick action and hopefully good reasoning. I have noticed some people work well under pressure while others struggle. Why do some people have an easier time making good decisions? We could say it is genetics, and this might be partly true, I think it comes down to common sense and it is a learned trait.
This is how Webster’s Dictionary describes common sense: “sound and prudent judgment based on a simple perception of the situation or facts.”
The word perception stands out in this definition, all our senses should be involved in the decision process. The ability to think quickly stems from practicing quick thinking, Aristotle said ” We are what we continually do”. In common sense we learn to consider many options, we do not discount one until it has been evaluated. I think common sense and wisdom are closely related, maybe so close you would have difficulty separating the two. It might be some people are deep thinkers and analyze everything and others like to be spontaneous and let the situation unfold without a script. Either way, thought and perception are indispensable when learning common sense.
My epiphany of common sense being learned happened about twenty years ago when Joshua our third child was six years old. At the time we had a shower that was tricky to manage and the water would go extremely hot if the handle was turn carelessly. We told Joshua not to touch the handle and to call us when he was done in the shower. One night he was calling out for his Mom but she was outside, I came from the other bathroom and told Joshua just to step out of the shower. Joshua looked confused and told me the water would still be running; I then told him it would be running regardless of being in or out of the shower, but this way he could start to dry off until we arrived. He smiled and said that makes sense and I realized this is how common sense is taught , by learning to think of different options and do it quickly. The earlier this process starts the greater the results that will be obtained throughout life.
Ralph Waldo Emerson said: “Society is always taken by surprise at any new example of common sense.” We live in one that craves logic and good decisions, yet there is a shortfall and deficit of these desired items. When common sense is used in abundance people are drawn to its source, they desire to know the origin. This type person will be listened too because they will know when to speak and when to stay silent. They will use their common sense (wisdom) appropriately and will not make others feel foolish; others will feel comfortable by the truth and grace of the decision.
I encourage everyone reading these words to adopt a learning track for common sense. Find that person you respect and know possesses this gift and learn all you can as quickly as possible. Learning, making good decisions, making those around you better people to me makes sense, let’s try to make it common.