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How to Have Common Sense

Updated on February 16, 2018
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Michael was a self admitted nonsensical person running into walls and dropping his phone into the worst places. Now, he's a changed man!

I want to say that I decided to write this article for two reasons. The first is that, from observation in my long (ha ha) life on this planet, I’ve noticed that common sense is one of, if not the most, desired skill that a person can have. It’s not a stale skill, either, but one that constantly grows and evolves with the person. Adapting to different and new situations is important.

The other reason I want to write this article is because I want to learn, too. I’m not afraid to admit that I often struggle with grasping “common sense.” I can’t pinpoint why, exactly, but if I were to guess I’d say it has to do with too much thinking. My brain, just like anybody else’s, can only handle so much at a time! It's getting better as time has gone on, though.

I would like to explore some of ways common sense affects our lives, and how it can be improved upon with purposeful practice.


How Common Sense Helps Us

You might take for granted what common sense really is. Without getting too technical, common sense is the decisions and actions we take based upon already existing connections in the brain. That's assuming you have any electricity happening in your brain. To all the people reading this, that's definitely you. But some people...well you know.

Take for example this scenario: you are walking down a sidewalk. You come across a gaping hole without any signage and there is no way to get across except to cross a narrow plank set across the gap. The street next to the sidewalk is pretty busy. Now, most people are going to quickly decide that the walking the plank is not a good idea (Peter Pan is a good teacher). It can’t hold their weight, and it might break and lead to injury/death. And, because the road traffic is heavy, taking the street is not the wisest decision either. So most people will walk back and find an alternate route. Past experience and learning formed a connection in the brain, giving the person an accurate understanding that the plank will not hold their weight. As far as jumping out in front of traffic, mom or dad explained to you all about that.

Why Does Common Sense Fail?

Normally, at least in my case, common sense fails when we aren’t consciously thinking about it. This is especially true if we aren’t in a situation that physically threatens us. I once, while still living with my parents, threw a load of whites into the laundry without looking through to notice a red t-shirt in the pile. Man, my mom was proud of me that day!

How to Improve

There are some general skills that you can acquire, if you don’t have them already, which can make you a much more sensible person. I will do them with you! Some of these things include:

  • Practicing your sense of direction. Next time you’re in a car, preferably not driving, take in the area around you. Notice the street names and landmarks. Buy yourself a compass; it doesn’t have to be expensive. Use it frequently until you become comfortable with which way is North, East, West, South. Remember, the sun rises in the East and sets in the West. Having a sense of direction is extremely practical, and can guide you in following directions, giving directions, and not getting lost…as much.

  • Learn how to cook! I’m as guilty as can be with this one. Cooking is not only fun, but it is often healthier than premade alternatives. YouTube can be a great resource if you’re cooking impaired. Buy a cookbook and start practicing easy recipes. You don’t need to be fancy!

  • Know yourself. You should by now have a pretty solid understanding of your body. What foods make you uncomfortable or ill? How much sleep do you need to properly function? Are you an introvert or extrovert? Do you need personal space at times to recover, or are you okay being the social butterfly? Try not to overstep these boundaries.

  • When you perform any task, try asking yourself: is there some way I can make this easier or more efficient? This might be more work-related, but you could apply it anywhere. It comes from the “work smarter, not harder” motto.

  • Learn the basics of managing your finances. If you have a checking account, keep an accurate check register. Check your statements often for irregularities. Sometimes you will find charges you weren’t previously aware of, eating away at your hard earned money. Check to make sure your bank isn’t nipping at your account with fees. Look into opportunities to invest more money for returns.

  • Practice weighing costs, risks, and benefits. If I buy this IPod today then I will be happy, but I will have a much harder time paying my rent this month. I might have to pay a late fee of fifty dollars for the rent; the immediate benefit is outweighed by the risk. Or, if I eat this chocolate bar now, I will be happy. But, when my sister gets home and finds her chocolate bar missing, she will be extremely upset. (I did it anyway)

Above all, never be afraid to ask questions. If you're one of those people with electricity in your brain as I said earlier, and you ask the question earnestly, then there's no such thing as a dumb question!


The Conclusion

I hope that this helped at least someone; it sure helped me out! Common sense takes some dedication, but it’s worth it. It makes you more valued, at least more than you already are.

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