The Common Sense Way Habits App: Excuses

“He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else.”: Benjamin Franklin

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‘I already have common sense’
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Everyone believes they have more common sense than other people, and doubtless that includes you. In truth the more common sense you truly have the more you will appreciate that you can always learn to improve your thinking and your behaviors. If your viewpoint is that you don’t need to improve your common sense because you magically already have all the common sense you need then it is unlikely you are reading this, but if you are then reflect on the fact that continually seeking to improve your appreciation of and instinct for the guidance given here will, bit by bit, help improve the likelihood of your life going better than it would otherwise have done.
‘You can’t tell me how to think’
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Such a view might in part be an arrogance, similar to the belief that one already has more common sense than others, possibly fuelled by having a high IQ or otherwise considering oneself to be a success in life. In practice however a high IQ only relates to an ability to solve particular types of problem and there are many people with high IQ who are blatantly very narrow and impractical thinkers. And success in life is often more about luck, and luck can and does change.

Such a view may also be in part a belief that one’s thoughts and way of thinking are somehow sacrosanct, and others ‘have no right’ to question them. You do indeed have the right to make personal choices, and that includes the right to be closed minded: you can choose to cut yourself off from practical and useful guidance. The way you think and behave are characteristics just as your muscle strength is for example. You can change and improve them if you wish and make the effort, but you can chose not to make the effort, and suffer the consequences.
'It’s not me, it’s other people'
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It may be that you put all your problems down to the lack of common sense of other people. That if only other people were to think and behave more logically or sensibly then everything would be fine. Whilst you might acknowledge that occasionally your own thinking or behavior is not as it should be, it is in response to or the fault of others.

This is in part back to the fact that we all believe ourselves to have more common sense than others, but in some people this is more extreme and as a result of a number of biases which lead to them noticing when others do wrong but failing to notice or acknowledge when they themselves do wrong they become convinced that all their ills are the result of external factors and particularly other people rather than themselves.

Such an attitude of course leaves those with such a view as victims of life who take no responsibility for what happens around them. In truth our problems arise largely as a result of the interactions between ourselves and others, and whilst we have only very limited influence over others we have huge influence over ourselves if we chose to recognise it, and as such huge influence over our interactions with others.
‘My beliefs are who I am’
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That they have the freedom to chose who they want to be never occurs to many people, maybe most people. They define themselves in terms of what they just happen to be and to believe. They see themselves almost entirely in terms of their nationality or their religion or some minority belief they have come to associate themselves with. It never occurs to them that this is simply an accident of birth and circumstances and maintained by biases such as Ingroup Bias and Confirmation Bias.

By believing or accepting that your existing beliefs are absolute you limit your ability to better interact with the world and leave yourself open to the nefarious influence of those who will exploit those beliefs. Ultimately this is simply a refusal to take responsibility for one’s own life and the consequences of acting in accordance with one’s existing beliefs. It is a ‘head in the sand’ choice which unfortunately is so often the easiest one to make.
‘You can’t teach common sense. You either have it or you don’t.’
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Common Sense, in so far we define it here - having a realistic view about how the world works and accepting a range of good thinking principles which have largely been understood and accepted by those who have thought about these matters for thousands of years - is unquestionably something that can be taught. Just as most other things can be taught, including the things we learnt at school.

Whether or not one is open to learning is of course a different matter, and unfortunately most people aren’t. It is likely that someone who holds the view that common sense can’t be taught is very likely someone who is not in practice particularly open to learning to become a better person. If perchance however you do consider yourself open to learning, just not so sure about the need to learn common sense, ask yourself why not. Ask yourself in particular whether it as a result of the cognitive biases we cover off in this app, noting in particular the bias that leads to pretty much everyone believing they somehow instinctively have more common sense than almost anyone else.
‘It’s too much effort learning all this’
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Any attempt to learn and to develop and to change requires effort, and changes to something as important as how we think and how we behave can appear daunting. Thus it is easy to dismiss any attempt to do so as simply too much effort. However this is nothing more than an excuse. Moving towards a more Common Sense Way of living isn’t some sudden intense effort activity, but is a gradual evolution brought about by paying more attention to how you think and behave. The most important step is simply to be aware of the fact that you can improve your thinking and behavior, which need be nothing more than browsing through this app from time to time. Becoming more aware will naturally lead to you wanting to make more effort in targeted ways.
‘I don’t have the time’
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A general excuse against anything that one doesn’t want to make any effort to do is simply to claim one is too busy. In the vast majority of cases however people have plenty of time for the things that are important to them and that they are willing to prioritise.
‘I can’t be bothered’
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Ain’t that the truth. Be bothered if you want to live a better life.
‘You haven’t convinced me’
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It is not for me to convince you that you should seek to try to live a fulfilling life, a life in which you are more in control, a life where the chances things will turn out well are better than they might well have otherwise been. Whilst not all of our problems in life are self-created, many are. Many of the undesirable difficulties we face in life are a direct result of our failure to recognise and follow common sense guidance about how to think and behave.