I’m sure I wasn’t the easiest child to rear and I certainly didn’t always make the best choices. That was evidenced by my father’s joking (I think?) remarks from time to time that I “didn’t have common sense enough to come in out of the rain.” Yes, I got drenched a time or two…haven’t we all? I’ve heard it also said before of some intellectuals, “He has book smarts, but no common sense.” Well, it occurred to me there’s a lot of talk about common sense, and I don’t think there is nearly as much understanding. So, just what is this common sense spoken of in quips and quotations and how do we so easily determine whether or not someone possesses it?
“Sense”, I believe, is essentially our ability to solve problems. Life brings us problems, challenges, and conundrums daily and the way we work through those is what makes up our “sense”. Slap “common” in front of that and it means something nearly universally possessed without exception. And although some people are especially gifted, we nearly all have the capability to think logically and make common sense decisions to solve everyday problems. We have the capability, but I don’t think we always utilize it.
So how do we use this common sense which I believe (perhaps foolishly) is innate within us? (You knew I’d have an opinion on that, right?) We begin by looking at a challenge from all angles. This requires removing our sometimes rose-colored glasses, working past biased-thinking, and placing ourselves in another’s position. Only then can we really understand a situation fully.
The next step is to begin to search for a solution, and not always in the typical places. The quest for a quandary-escape requires looking outside the box, sometimes for an unconventional answer. An open-mind is essential to master problem-solving through common sense.
Finally, we have to “go with our gut” once we’ve decided on our course of action. Let instinct rule the day. Whether our answer is liberal or conservative, Republican or Democrat, right or left, does it make sense? That is what truly matters. Only when we problem-solve with a clear head and remove all else besides what makes sense can we formulate solutions for even the most complex problems that make our world a better place.
Common sense isn’t a gift that some have and some don’t. It is a skill and one in which we should all seek mastery. Finding answers to problems using your uninfluenced, unconventional, and uninhibited senses will make you the smartest person in the room regardless of education or background, because contrary to what you may have heard, I don’t believe anyone has “no common sense”, it is simply that some don’t know how to use it. So, the next time a problem presents itself or you see those black clouds rising, remember these sage words: “Use some common sense and come in out of the rain!”
*Columnist’s Note: For those of you who have not yet found a better column to read, you can find mine, A Porch Swing Point of View, on the second and fourth Wednesdays of every month, where I promise to deliver a thought-provoking message and a laugh or two along the way (would you settle for a chuckle?) All my best from my front porch to yours!