Saturday, May 30

Not as common as we’d like.

I’ve been thinking about “common sense” lately. I told a friend where these thoughts were going and she said “you need to make this a blog post”. “Ya, I think I do. I think I need to analyze it further too.” Well, I’ve analyzed, and I think I only see the top of the iceberg, but I’ll share anyway since it’s the top of the iceberg that alerts us to the whole iceberg.

Common sense seems to be more related to the way we think and our paying attention, as opposed to how great or amazing our intellect or IQ might be.

The first reason I say that is because I have met and been close to many intelligent people in my life. A pattern I have seen is that some of the people I consider to be quite genius and intelligent can’t seem to figure out the obvious stuff that I think of as common sense.

In my 20's I decided the two can’t go hand in hand. That you get one or the other and because I clearly had the “easy” common sense, I was by no means ever going to become a genius at anything. And all the really smart people I met, who had no common sense, never would. Now, in my 40's, I've decided I was wrong.

My older sister is one of my examples of this. That Girl can do the most amazing things! She writes songs (lyrics and music) that are so freaking awesome and clever! She plays multiple musical instruments, she speaks 3 languages fluently, knows a good chunk of other languages, and she has endless skills any person could call genius. But then she calls me to help her do the easy stuff. “how do I…?”.  Me being the middle child, the one who was given the “lets figure this out” mind, I usually am able to answer or fix whatever she asks me about, and with ease. You can see why I thought that we are each bestowed with the ability to have common sense, or be a genius, or be “thick”. (as the British say.)

Now that I’m older, I’ve met a shit-ton of people. I’ve worked with so many minds, and I interact with all kinds of people on a daily basis, so I have a new theory.

Common sense is not something you have or don’t have, not like being a genius. Common sense is a way that people think, and a way of “being”. Which will make sense as I elaborate on “being”.

I have two co-workers that illustrate my point. Both teenagers. One of them is a problem solver, communicator, thinker, and easily paying attention to everything. The other is in her own world, answering her own questions AFTER she asks them aloud and realizes she knows the answer, clearly not “thinking” before she speaks. Ya, we all totally do this, it’s nothing strange, but this is the part of common sense I’m learning. And I toooo am having more common sense as I change my LACK of thinking, into thinking. And THIS brings me to my other half of “a way of being”.

That half is presence. I know that to some, “being present” is easy and the normal way of life, but for most people, I actually think that being present is incredibly difficult. I believe modern technology such as cell phones are turning off our ability to “be present”. The reason they are doing it is because we can’t pay attention to everything all the time. Being present requires PAYING A-FUCKING-TTENTION. I say that so big because by not doing it, and being on a cell phone, people have died. When you are driving, you need to give driving your attention. When you are having a conversation, you need to give the person you attention. When you are ordering a cup of coffee, you need to order a cup of coffee. Paying attention to what you are doing at all times is how you are present, and it is how you are able to think clearly and have common sense.

I am not in any way saying that I’m some amazing attention-payer. Life is crazy busy, multi-tasking is 100% required in my job, so paying attention is almost a luxury I can't afford. However, I regularly do something and say to myself, “Had I been paying attention, that wouldn't have happened.” We all do it, I know I’m really just saying what everyone already knows, but as I figure out HOW we all can have more common sense, I’m noticing more and more when people are not present, when people don’t even seem to want to be present, and what they seem to be doing more often is turning the thinking off. As I try to pay better attention, to be more present so I don’t make mistakes that I’ll regret, my attention is super keen on those who are doing the opposite, and really turning down their common sense dial.

I’ve posted before about cell phones and how rude I find it when people in your company decide the phone is what they need to be looking at, but I’m not harping on about Cell Phones, what I’m talking about is everything that people tune into instead of paying attention to what is happening in the moment and going on “presently”.

I know someone who always wants to talk about themselves. When they call, they ask how I am and when I answer, the response I get to everything I say is “Oh fun.” The person is clearly just waiting for me to finish so they can feel like they asked, but then get down to business of doing the talking. This happened endless times before one day I decided I actually don’t want to hear “Oh, fun” anymore. In reality,I don’t need to be heard, what I’ve been up to is of no importance, but the underlying message of –lets pretend I give a shit about your life so I can tell you all about mine, and it coming in the words “oh, fun” showed me I was not talking to someone being present. When nothing changes, I do.

I want to lastly illustrate my point of presence and common sense with an example. On a daily basis I come in contact with countless people at work. What I have noticed is that people’s expressions often change when they start talking to me and they see my level of paying attention to them. It’s almost like they suddenly become present because they realize it’s uncomfortable to not be paying attention to someone who is totally paying attention to you. Some people shy away from this level of paying attention. It’s nothing so much seen as felt, but once you feel it, you see it too. If I am listening to you, responding to everything you say, and acting based on your words, you want to be paying attention so you don’t miss anything. It’s that not wanting to miss anything that happens when you are present, and THAT is what generates common sense. If you are present and thinking, your dial is turned up.

No comments:

Post a Comment