It seems my new favorite phrase these days is “Has everyone lost their common sense? Certainly not saying that I’m a genius or an expert in anything. However, I’ve noticed a trend in bad behavior just about everywhere. Some might even say “people are just acting like fools.”
As we all come out of isolation, it would seem that some are doing a better job of adjusting than others. Look, I get it, everything is great until the people show up! LOL While I am not a psychologist (disclaimer inserted), freedom after more than a year of isolation has brought out both the best and worst in many people.
Let’s start out by defining “common sense”. Most dictionaries define it as good sense and sound judgment in practical matters. Now to define “practical matters”. These are aspects of something that involve real situations and events, not ideas or theories.
So in short, I guess I’m saying too many folks are not using good sense or sound judgment in real life situations! Perhaps I’m sounding a little judgmental but that’s not my intent. Hoping you’ll bear with my slight rant on this topic.
Common Sense vs. Experts
When someone says that you have common sense, it refers to having sound judgment rather than specific academic specialized knowledge. A person with common sense is perceived as being smart, level-headed, able to understand and assess a situation or problem.
It is the recognition of a person’s ability to apply practical intelligence to a situation, even if rules or procedures may be broken. “Do what’s needed.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson said “Common sense is genius dressed in its working clothes.” I just love this quote.
Interestingly enough, in the many articles and posts I read about common sense, a person without it is referred to as a simpleton or idiot. Wow, that’s maybe a little harsh. I certainly won’t be calling anyone that and I know that I’m guilty of letting “stupid” get a hold of me a few times!
There’s a terrific article by Craig Lounsbrough that is such a great read on this topic. Here’s the link if you want to check it out.
Common Sense – Simplicity
Common Sense is a combination of truth and fact that isn’t skewed by our own prejudice or personal bias. It’s simple and free from the pressures of the culture of the moment. When common sense is no longer simple it is no longer effective. That’s certainly something to digest!
When we overthink common sense and insert our biases, we turn it into something else. It then becomes something we see as intellectually impressive, but likely not practical at all. In effect, it has become useless.
This would be the scenario where someone takes a situation with a simple solution and chooses to pursue a complicated alternative solution that looks more intellectual. “Making a mountain out of a mole hill.”
Common Sense and sound judgment have a way of keeping us grounded and on track. The practical simplicity brings clarity, solutions and clear direction to our lives.
We live in a time where “experts” rule our culture. It seems that there is a lack of encouraging anyone to “think for themselves.”
Television and social media provide endless amounts of data and facts from the experts we often refer to as “they”! Every day “they” have something to say about every aspect of our lives. It’s as though “they” think society is waiting for someone else to do the thinking for them.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve been managing my life pretty well for decades without help from the “theys”.
Informed or Foolish
Don’t get me wrong, I am an information junkie myself. I love to get all the information that I can before making a decision. That’s a wise thing to do. However, blindly following the “theys” is a very dangerous thing. We must be able to maintain our ability to see the big picture and not stay stuck on the often narrow views of field experts.
While we need expert guidance, it must be combined with a broad perspective. No one else knows what is best for you. Restore your common sense ability by thinking for yourself.
Not So Common Sense
It seems that common sense is really not that common after all. This is perhaps why we are seeing more people making poor decisions and behaving badly in public.
What we really want to see in ourselves and others is sound judgment. Sound judgment comes from how we think. Dependability, reliability and predictability are the fruits of sound judgment expressed through kindness and mindfulness of others before self.
Here are a few examples of people not using common sense and sound judgment:
- Not using turn signals
- Being rude to servers and wait staff
- Not cleaning up after your dog does his “business”
- Parking in disabled spots
- More than 10 items in the “Express Lane”
- Standing too close
- Not putting shopping carts in the “cart return”
- Tailgating and a million other “rules of the road” violations
- Talking on the phone when at register/checkout
- “Hogging” the grocery aisles
I will admit that I may have a low tolerance for folks who don’t follow the driving laws! UGH! If you take a close look at the list above, they all involve a lack of awareness or concern for others.
Taking the time to pause, think and recognize the consequences of a behavior, goes a long way in stopping poor judgment.
What We Have In Common
When we share common views on what needs to be done, life becomes easier for all of us. You see, common sense demands awareness of ourselves and others. Once we are aware, then self discipline should direct us to do the right thing rather than what is easy or makes us feel good in the moment.
This is where I think the past year’s isolation has left us all a little rusty in relating to others in community. Being stuck with ourselves and by ourselves for so long may have put our emotions/self in charge.
While emotions are important, they are fickle and make lousy rulers!
Here are a few examples of living in community with common sense:
- Use your turn signals
- Be KIND to others
- Respect and tip well your servers and wait staff
- Clean up after yourself and your dog
- Respect personal boundaries
- Follow instructions/guidelines
- Check your perspective – don’t sweat the small stuff
- You reap what you sow; sow good seed
- Consider how your actions impact others
- Enjoy life
I am now done with my rant. Thanks for your patience! I hope that as we move beyond the CODIV19 crises, people will take the time to be aware, think for themselves and leave things and people better than how they found them.