Doug and Lynn Nodland

Doug and Lynn Nodland

Do you use your common sense? You may wonder why we’re asking that question. It’s because Nov. 4 is "Use Your Common Sense Day" in America.

The way things are going sometimes, we think we should make every day "Use Your Common Sense Day"!

That day is also the day Will Rogers, a humorist, entertainer and newspaper columnist, was born. That’s ironic because one of his famous quotes is, “Common sense ain’t that common!” Today, sometimes common sense seems to have fallen by the wayside.

What is common sense? Wikipedia says “Common sense is sound, practical judgment concerning everyday matters, or a basic ability to perceive, understand, and judge in a manner that is shared by (ie. common to) nearly all people.”

We wonder what it would be like to have a school curriculum that incorporated the subject of what it means to have common sense. Robert Green Ingersoll says, “It is a thousand times better to have common sense without education than to have education without common sense.”

Although "Use Your Common Sense Day" was first celebrated in 2015, common sense is not a new concept. It was recognized by the ancient philosopher, Aristotle. He incorporated it into his writings by highlighting the importance of using rational thinking in making decisions. Thomas Edison would be in agreement with that idea. He said, “The three great essentials to achieve anything worthwhile are: hard work, stick-to-itiveness and common sense.”

The importance of common sense was recognized many years ago. In 1776, during the events leading to the American Revolutionary War, Thomas Paine wrote a 47-page pamphlet called "Common Sense." That document was critical in helping support those individuals who were declaring independence from Great Britain.

Some interesting facts about Paine’s work are that it was copied over 500,000 times during the years of the American Revolution. Also, in proportion to the population at that time, it had the largest sale and circulation of any book published in American history. In fact, it remains an all-time best-selling American title and it is still in print today.

Do you wonder if we’re born with common sense, or not? The consensus seems to be that we’re not born with common sense. It’s something that’s learned from the experiences of life and helps us with decision-making. Mark Twain said it so succinctly, “Good decisions come from experience. Experience comes from making bad decisions.”

However, as we all have experienced in others, and possibly ourselves, common sense does not always prevail. Maybe we can relate to the thoughts of Gino D’Acampo, “Between my brain and my mouth there should be a filter where common sense kicks in before I deliver a word, but I think when God made me, He forgot the filter.”

Yes, we all have had lapses in common sense. How do we react when that happens? We need to be kind to ourselves and realize that everyone makes mistakes. It doesn’t have to define who we are. Often important life lessons are learned from our mistakes which help us to make different and better choices in the future.

So, what might be some ways to celebrate "Use Your Common Sense Day?"

  • Spending some time in introspection may help us see where we use common sense and get good results. Also, look at where more common sense is needed. Our parents were often good at giving us advice that was common sense. For example, our moms would say, ‘Finish your project before you reward yourself.’ Good advice. We should have written this article and then watched the Viking game. Alas, common sense did not prevail.
  • Adopt a mindset of learning, whether the decisions we made are good or bad. Look at mistakes or failure as just learning a way that didn’t work. Now forgive ourselves and readjust our efforts to take advantage of our learning.
  • Maybe you even want to have a party where everyone shares the worst mistake or failure that they experienced from not using common sense and how they handled it. This could actually be fun if you can laugh at yourself. Our moms said that when we make a mistake, no one else will lose any sleep over it.

What about you? We hope the suggestions for "Use Your Common Sense Day" are helpful. As Wilfred Peterson said, “The art of common sense is applying the best wisdom we know today based on all our yesterdays.”

Know that each day life gives you the opportunity to gain even more common sense.

Chanhassen residents Doug and Lynn Nodland are success coaches and owners of The Balance Center. Doug and Lynn can be contacted at More information and videos at