" Did you ever stop to think that we women who do too much wouldn't be able to do too much if we weren't competent, strong, intelligent, courageous and determined? We might, however, be a bit lacking in common sense."
The above quote is attributed to Ann Wilson Schaef in Meditations for Women Who Do Too Much. As I read it my mind began to buzz. I realized that I had never really thought about what common sense means, what value it has for life. I believe I have common sense, at least I have been told so since childhood. Would someone know if they didn't have it?
First, let's think about what common sense is.
Where I'm from, it is a highly prized quality. The elders will say, even of the very young, 'that child is really sharp, lots of common sense... Honey, common sense will take you places book smarts or money never will.' If one possessed book smarts, but lacked common sense, he'd be mocked. And being told you didn't have any was as great an insult as being called a liar or thief.
Dictionary.com records the definition of common sense as 'good sense and sound judgment in practical matters.'
The Cambridge Dictionary defines it as, "the basic level of practical knowledge and judgment that we all need to help us live in a reasonable and safe way".
How does one acquire common sense? How does it apply to my life as a woman?
Is it possible to be as powerful and skillful as today's woman is and miss the boat on having common sense? Is this lack of common sense the reason why our "dream lives" are so often elusive? We want impact, purpose and meaning. We practically kill ourselves and others with our agendas and superhero like speed... doing too much, going too fast and getting no closer to the life we think we ought to live.
So what is common sense? How can it keep me from doing too much?
Common sense is knowing most of the time good enough is good enough.
Common sense is knowing you are enough, right now, just as you are. Yes, you!
Common sense is going to bed when you are tired and getting up when you are rested.
Common sense is living one's life with a sense of rhythm, not rushing.
Common sense is knowing that we are here for a reason and that God uses our lives as they are. He will help us to maximize our unique gifts and strengths as needed.
Common sense is loving yourself so that you can love other people.
Common sense is putting first things first, second things second and so on.
Common sense is using what you've got while you've got it. YOLO (you only live once)!
Common sense is recognizing every day you wake up is a new day. Who doesn't love do-overs?
If the essence of common sense is 'having practical knowledge and judgment to live in reasonable and safe ways', then the very act of doing too much indicates a lack of some common sense. Doing too much is unreasonable and unsafe. It has become a habit of western culture. I have bought into the deception along with most of the women I know. We are capable, strong and mighty. Hear us roar! But our sister Ann might be right. Doing too much screams loudly that we are a bit lacking in the most common of senses.
Common sense is believing old habits can die, even if their deaths come slowly. We can change. We don't have to live hurried lives. We can kick back a little and enjoy the ride. Isn't that what we want?
Observing the world is one way we develop common sense. But not just by looking at what others are doing. We also have to slow down and look at our own lives and ask tough questions of ourselves.
Is what I'm doing working for me?
Is it getting me the results I want?
Oftentimes asking 'Why?' in response to what we observe and do provides the clarity needed to make sensible, profitable decisions that will lead us to a reasonable and safe life. We have to be wide awake and thinking. Reflection and practices that are in line with solid beliefs will make us wiser. Common sense is wisdom. And wisdom takes us places and gives us experiences that book smarts and money never will. Wisdom is using what we know to dictate what we do. As we know better, we ought to do better. This is common sense.
A diet of healthy boundaries and exercising sound judgment can reshape a life of doing too much. Let us run the race marked out for us. It’s different for each of us women. Let common sense lead us along a path of peace toward the lives of which we dream.
Isn't that what we all want?