Some Uncommon Sense We Should Teach in Schools?
Bill Cottringer

“Common sense is the simple knack of seeing something as it is and doing something as it should be done.” ~Mark Twain.

During my last seven decades of living, I accidentally stumbled upon some uncommon sense which I wish had been taught to me earlier in school. Here is the uncommon sense that is better to learn, sooner than later, but better later than never.

1. The best opportunities in life occur in twos, and it is usually a good idea to know when the first has already come and gone so we don’t lose out on the second time. If we do miss the second opportunity after it comes and goes, then there is some karma to work out before the next opportunity comes around.

2. The most difficult lesson in life is to learn what is and what isn’t under our control. We only make forward progress, when we realize that the only thing which is actually under our control is our reactions to the things that happen to us, especially right here and now. Ironically, once we start managing our responses to the things that happen and the situations in which we find ourselves, then we start having some power to prevent bad, unwanted things from occurring in our perpetual quest for success and happiness, always a step ahead of us.

3. Working to improve our weaknesses is not as productive as focusing on making our strengths stronger and avoiding getting into situations that exploit our weaknesses. This is a priority reversal trap that catches us all, until we start noticing this, among the many others, which we have been failing to notice all along.

4. Learning to be mentally flexible and adapt to inevitable change usually occurs with a captive audience. But the more we resist and longer we wait, the harder it becomes, like salmon trying to swim upstream and climb a fish ladder. Change or be changed is a basic rule of life.

5. When we try to avoid conflict it usually comes back to bite us in the butt, with more vengeance the second time around, and lingers until resolved. Seeing conflict as an opportunity to grow, although often painful and uncomfortable, is always the courage that is rewarded. But that doesn’t mean the conflicts get any easier to resolve, even with the right attitude and effort.

6. Tenacity and perseverance in not quitting most things are admirable virtues worthy of aspiration, just like knowing the few things we should quit, or at least change our approach to quitting.

7. Good judgment is circular. It comes from experience and that experience comes from bad judgment.

8. One of the sharpest discernments we can make is the one between opportunity and danger. Correct discernments of opportunity move us ahead two steps, while wrongly over-valuing danger takes us back three steps.

9. We can’t attract positive things in our life that we want until we stop attracting the negative ones that are always in the way. This is not an easy habit to break.

10. The more wrong choices we make, the harder it is to have the opportunity to make right ones. But fortunately, this is reversable with time and effort, and a lot of patience and acceptance, and sometimes divine intervention.

11. We think, feel and behave, sometimes in a random, tangled order. All the confusion comes into play, when we try to figure out which causes which. The one thing we do know is that we can’t think or talk our way out of a situation we behaved our way into.

12. The perception of free will is mostly an illusion, at least until we start realizing all the social conditioning influences which have shaped us and taken away our free choices. The best way to restore our free will is to work on closing the gap between what we think our destiny is, with the real one that is waiting for us to discover.

13. Trying to change others is only futile and frustrating. Al least until we begin to manage our selves better by better management of our reactions to what others say or do to us.

14. A parent’s job is to anticipate what critical values their children need to learn in order to be more successful in navigating through the minefields in life with minimal bruising, bleeding and broken bones. If that didn’t occur with us, then the opportunity may be to do this for our children or grandchildren, or those of others.

15. We are usually three-quarters to where we are going before we know the destination. When we are lost, the easiest way to find our location is to stop and look at where our footsteps took us to.

16. Truth is more relative than absolute and what we see as true has more to do with the location in place and time from which we are doing the looking, than any inherent quality of the thing itself that we are looking at. Sometimes it is better to look past what we are seeing, for a more complete, accurate version of the tentative, ever evolving truth.

17. The success and happiness we have in life is mostly determined by how we define these things. The narrower the definitions, the less we have, whereas the broader we define these things, the more of them we have. This is another version of how to get to the finish line sooner—run faster and move the finishing line closer.

18. The happiest people with the least regrets in the winter of their lives, are the ones who took the most chances and spent sufficient time contemplating life and its meaning, more practically speaking than purely philosophically.

19. It isn’t reality that needs changing as much as our inaccurate and incomplete perceptions of it. And we can’t change realities as seen as unwanted or harmful, until we begin to see them exactly as they are. Afterall, things are rarely as they first appear.

20. The purpose of life may be to find out what that purpose is and at the end of the day this purpose may involve the challenge of overcoming the adversity of the three main conflicts that confront us: Us vs. life, us vs. them, and us vs. ourselves.

21. Good communication is the most valuable currency in life. Good communication can only happen when we avoid conveying things like control, judgment, certainty, strategy, insensitivity and superiority, while practicing their opposites by being un-controlling, accepting, tentative, spontaneous, sensitive and equal.

22.Success can be fun, addictive and alluring, put cures in problem-solving come from embracing and understanding failures to discover what we are missing and ideas for finding these missing clues to use, the next opportunity that comes our way.

23. Our good name is our most valuable possession and the lion’s share of our name comes from keeping promises we make and not making ones we can’t keep.

24. We tend to over-estimate what we can accomplish in a day and underestimate what we can do in a year. Maybe this is an admonition against multi-tasking or trying to carry two watermelons with one hand.

25. Maybe the most important choice in life is which side to be on—one of cooperation, hope and positive empathy, or one of competition, cynicism, and negative empathy. Both are necessary to validate the other and keep the game in motion, and there are two main rules to this game: (a) play our best (b) don’t take our role as a life-or-death matter.

“It is not the things that happen to us that bother us, but rather our opinion about these things” ~ Epictetus.

Author's Bio: 

William Cottringer, Ph.D. is retired Executive Vice President of Puget Sound Security in Bellevue, WA, along with being a Sport Psychologist, Business Success Coach, Photographer and Writer living on the scenic Snoqualmie River and mountains of North Bend. He is author of several business and self-development books, including, Re-Braining for 2000 (MJR Publishing); The Prosperity Zone (Authorlink Press); You Can Have Your Cheese & Eat It Too (Executive Excellence); The Bow-Wow Secrets (Wisdom Tree); Do What Matters Most and “P” Point Management (Atlantic Book Publishers); Reality Repair, (Global Vision Press), Reality Repair Rx (Publish America); Thoughts on Happiness; Pearls of Wisdom: A Dog’s Tale (Covenant Books, Inc.) Coming soon: A Cliché a day will keep the Vet Away (Another Dog’s Tale). Bill can be reached for comments or questions at (206) 914-1863 or