Common sense is something you learn, but it is based on human compassion and respect, both for yourself and for others. It requires a level of maturity and cannot be had without experience and guidance from those around you.
In every decision you make, there should be consideration for both logical choice and emotional choice. People naturally choose self, survival, and basic needs, both physical and emotional, first, and as they mature, they begin to consider others’ needs and perspectives in addition to their own.
Common sense would be looking both ways before crossing the street. This is for survival, to protect yourself, because you cannot depend on others alone to see you and not hit you, because things on wheels move faster than you on your feet, because sometimes you can jump out of the way faster than a car can turn away or brake sufficiently.
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Children learn what is dangerous by how they are protected and how they are taught. They take time to develop a sense of how they should back down the stairs after climbing up so easily. Common sense of a child is thinking about their own security, they will crawl if they don’t feel comfortable walking, they will look to a parent if they are unsure about what to do next. A child lacking the decision making capabilities would not be able to make good judgment calls about keeping safe first. Some children may be naturally more adventurous or rebellious, but that doesn’t mean they don’t understand the line, they may just have less self-control to stay behind it.
Common sense with others is thinking before speaking, asking before taking, discussing before making major decisions. All of these are based in respect for others. The golden rule exists to remind people to use common sense, because it’s not always easy to remember that your point of view is not the only one. Combine this with open minded thinking, where you can accept that there are other perspectives regardless of right or wrong, and make your decisions only after considering all sides.
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Sometimes common sense can be culturally based, but it still has the same roots, just that the decision tree is a different shape. In this case, you have to acquire the perspective of different decision trees, and the more experience you gain, the wider becomes your ability to apply the appropriate one for the situation.
Common sense works out a lot better if you remember to keep an open mind and follow the basics of human respect and compassion as you are familiar with them. Pause before you do or say anything, ask questions of those who might have more or different experiences, and stay humble and polite.
People with common sense tend to be much more thoughtful, reasonable, kind, generous, and protective of others, because they stop and think before judging, acting, or speaking. There’s a reason why it’s good to count to ten as many times as necessary before making a decision. It gives you time to consider clearly and minimizes regrets from any emotional or knee-jerk reactions.
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In general, common sense is expected from others, and yet not everyone is able to apply it consistently because we don’t think. It’s not usually because we don’t have common sense, but that we are too caught up in our feelings to apply it well.
Barring mental illness on a sliding scale, because we can all go a little crazy sometimes, pretty much everybody can apply common sense as long as they can feel. The desire to protect oneself, the desire to help and protect others, fulfilling one’s own needs as well as extending to understanding others’ needs, these things are basic human nature, to see oneself as a part of a community, a family.
If you don’t know what to do, follow your human intuition that tells you to choose paths that make you better, stronger, and happier, without hurting others to get there. Common sense is just a practical daily application of living life well, one small decision at a time.
Source: Akua Publishes