Everyone has heard the saying its only common-sense. What is common-sense? How is it developed? Is it something we are born with? Or is it something we develop?
These are some questions that have been floating around in my brain. In this article, I will attempt answering some of them.
From a quick google search common-sense is defined as “good sense and sound judgment in practical matters.” This definition sums up common-sense fairly well. But I look at common sense as the ability to make fewer mistakes and make better decisions.
In previous articles I have talked about decisions making and forming habits. I think common-sense is made up of both decisions making and forming habits.
I hear people talking about how exercising and eating healthy is only common-sense. Which I do agree with. But there is also the argument that people who eat healthy and exercise do this because of healthy habits. The commons-sense factor is actually a habit they formed in their lives. So how does decision making tie into forming habits? Well, a person has to decide to make exercise and eating healthy a habit. This is a smart decision and can even be said to be the “common-sense” decision.
For certain “common-sense” situations we can rely on our habits. By developing good habits, we force ourselves into the flow stat; where we don’t have to rely on our decision-making ability. Healthy eating, exercise, mediation, family time, keeping a clean house are all things that can be introduced as habit and can improve our lives. But what about those things that can’t be habits. Things that don’t occur in our lives daily. Things we have to use our decision-making ability to solve. How do we improve this in our life? How do we expand this part of our brain? This is what this article will be exploring. How to improve your common sense.
The Experience Factor
Common-sense tells you many things. It tells you not to go down a dark alley at night. It tells you not to cross the street if there are cars coming. It tells you not to invest all your money in the same company. Although if someone isn’t equipped with the bell that goes off in your head when something obvious may go wrong. How do we improve this? One of the obvious answers is to improve your common sense through experience.
How does one know anything if they don’t experience it? I’m not saying to go run down a dark alley to experience getting mugged. What I am saying is there have been people before us that have experienced these things. And they have written about them! The dark alley example is a general example. Even if you haven’t been blessed with a large amount of common sense. I would expect most people wouldn’t do this and would not have to read a book to figure this out. Most kids would have been taught this by their parents at an early age. Along with don’t talk to strangers. More on parents teaching kids common-sense later.
The experience factor comes down too many things. How do you have the common-sense to change a tire if you have never done it before? How do you have the common sense to build something if you have never picked up a hammer? The only way to develop common-sense in these areas is to have experiences in them. One person’s common-sense isn’t the same as another. The only way to develop common sense is the experience and learning new things.
I hear many people say about simple car maintenance is only common-sense. Like changing the oil or changing a tire. To be completely honest, I can manage to change my tire in an emergency, and I have a general understand of how to change my oil. But these are not things I have done on a regular basis. So, to say it is only common sense to do these things would be wrong.
You need to experience things in life to develop a strong common-sense. A person develops common sense at their job when they have experience with it. I have been guilty of accusing people of having no common sense when they were just starting out in their career. You need to experience those mistakes and achievements to develop common-sense. How can you have common sense about management if you have spent your whole life on the tools? The only way to develop management common-sense to get experience as a manager. Or observe the best people doing the job and pick up on their tendencies.
There is the common misconception that a person can be all “book-smarts” and no “common-sense.” I am unsure this is 100% correct. It is true certain people have developed better life skills and didn’t pursue academics. But if a person did pursue academics couldn’t it be said they just have different interests that others. There concentrated they focus on their study area rather than developing their life skills.
Sometimes I think doctors are this way. They spent much of their time focusing on becoming a top medical professional that they lack other aspects in their lives. The things the rest of us think is common-sense like building relationships or basic home maintenance. These things didn’t get developed because of their focus on pursuing professional and academic goals. There is no doubt that if they find the right person to be with in their lives, they can develop great relationships. And I’m sure they can develop the skills for home maintenance. Although I have a feeling, they would rather pay someone to do their home maintenance and focus their pursuits elsewhere. The not having a common-sense factor doesn’t apply because the common-sense they developed was just in other areas. And to be honest I am thankful for that.
Side note! I’m not saying every doctor is this way or that any Doctors lack common-sense. I’m just giving a general example for people to relate too. The above example can be applied to any profession or any walk of live.
Parenting and Common-sense
I said above that I would talk about parents developing common-sense in their children. Let’s get into this here. As parents you are looking to raise kids that can make their own decisions and be useful member of society. If your kids come running to you for every problem, you probably didn’t do your job. I’m not saying your kids should come to you for advice, but they should be able to figure the little things out.
Now how do we develop common sense in our children. It’s fairly simple we let them or in some cases make them do things on their own. If you’re in the car with your teenage child and you get a flat tire. You shouldn’t look at this as a bad thing. This becomes a learning experience for your child. They will look at how you approach the situation. How you react. If you react in an aggressive and irrational way. Your kids will think this is the way they should approach problems. But if you calmly slow the car and pull over in a safe location. Get out of your car and assess the situation. Then change your car tire, while getting your child to assist. You just created a teaching moment. You actually taught your kid two things. One how to approach problems and two how to change a tire. This is how you develop common sense in your kids. If your kid gets into this situation in the future. And there is a strong chance they will. They will know how to solve the problem. Not only solve the problem of changing a tire but solve any problem.
I should let you know here as I have mentioned before in previous articles that I don’t have kids. But I did grow up with two great parents that, prepared me pretty well for life. And that is ultimately what parenting is. Preparing your kids for solving future problems through the use of common-sense. I’m not saying parents should have all the answers. But teaching your kids where to go to find the answers is key. Even being able to simply call a repair person with the situation gets too advanced for your skills is important to know.
If a situation gets too advanced for your skills and you can’t figure it out from a YouTube video. It is time to call a repair man or a person with skills in your problem area. Just knowing when to do this is common-sense. Making the problem worst does not do any favours for anyone. It just makes a difficult job for the expert when you eventually get that person in to help.
Like I said above this is a topic that’s been floating around in my head for some time now. And I really enjoyed writing about it. I will be exploring this topic more in my future articles. Decision making, habit formation, and common sense have now become my three areas of interest. And I look forward to writing and posting more about them in the future.
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