Common Sense And Sense Of Humor

As we all know humans basically have five senses, see, touch, taste, hear and smell. Later on a sixth sense was added with the same name. It was described as a supposed intuitive faculty giving awareness not explicable in terms of perception. But, the question to ponder is whether humans are limited to these six senses? What about common sense and sense of humor. Are they beyond the scope of what we perceive as a sense?

Senses are defined as “A faculty by which the body perceives external stimulus; one of the faculties of sight, smell, hearing, taste, and touch”.

As the sixth sense does not completely meet the requirements of the definition, but is still called a sense there is a reasonable ground to argue the case of Common sense and Sense of humor.

Common Sense

Common sense is defined as: sound and prudent judgment based on a simple perception of the situation or facts.

When a person makes any judgment and that is sound and prudent in nature even if it is based on simple perceptions or facts it cannot be said that it is something inferior. When Voltaire said that Common sense is not so common, he was pointing towards human deficiencies in applying common sense. It signifies that common sense is not something restricted in its application to certain situations or events only and has a vast scope. It may be argued that common sense is so apparent that it has cease to be of any importance. It  amounts to saying that seeing, hearing, smelling,  tasting and touching are so apparent that they cease to be of any importance. To judge their importance if it is assumed that only one of them is missing it will show how greatly a person’s life will be affected. Nothing can be taken for granted. Similar is the case with common sense. Assume the absence of common sense in a person and you could imagine the adverse consequences for him.

The common misconception about common sense that it is something inherent in the person cannot be farther from the truth. Common sense is learned through personal experience as well as through the experience of others. It teaches how to conduct oneself in the most proper way keeping in view the prevailing circumstances. It is true that in some very common and frequent matters it has assumed the status of the done thing, but still there may be many situations either happening or that might happen in future that are required to be dealt with in the most proper way and common sense is either helping or will help in navigating out from these troubled waters.

Common sense sounds simple and easy, but appearances could be deceptive as rightly pointed out by Ralph Waldo Emerson who defined common sense as; “Common sense is genius dressed in its working clothes”.

The fact that its application looks to be simple in routine matters and circumstances cannot belittle the genius that common sense is. When Thomas Edison said; “The three great essentials to achieve anything worthwhile are, first, hard work; second, stick-to-itiveness; third, common sense” he was emphasizing the importance and great value of common sense.

Sense Of Humor

Sense of humor is defined as the trait of appreciating (and being able to express) the humorous;

Humor is defined as; “The quality of being amusing or comic, esp as expressed in literature or speech”.

Humor has traversed a long journey and is no longer taken as a non-serious thing.  While according to James Thurber; “Humor is a serious thing. I like to think of it as one of our greatest earliest natural resources, which must be preserved at all cost”.

Mark Twain declared; “Humor is mankind’s greatest blessing”.

Edward de bono defined it as; “Humor is by far the most significant activity of human mind”.

A new definition of humor is over- due keeping in view its importance and the following definition seems more objective and realistic:

The quality that brings a balance to the physical and mental well being of people by diluting the stressful effects of the life through release of tension by making them see the world from a comical angle.

As far as  sense of humor is concerned  we will first look at what the men of letters have to say about it.

Mark Van Doren; “Nothing in man is more serious than his sense of humor; it is the sign that he wants all the truth”. William Arthur Ward;

William Arthur Ward; A well-developed sense of humor is the pole that adds balance to your steps as you walk the tightrope of life”.

Francis Bacon; “Imagination was given to man to compensate him for what he is not; a sense of humor to console him for what he is”.

Henry Ward Beecher; “A person without a sense of humor is like a wagon without springs – jolted by every pebble in the road”. 

The above quotes leave no doubt that Sense Of Humor is not simply a trait of appreciating (and being able to express) the humorous, it is an important instrument of life and its scope is much wider. It is not something to be taken lightly and is a great natural ability that can play a very important role in developing a person’s personality and may be sometime it is the difference between  success and failure. People with a good sense of humor have a better sense of life. They are more prepared to take on the challenges confronting them and making most out of their lives. Sense of humor is a great management tool and it not only facilitate good self management, but has proved its efficacy in managing others. As Dwight David Eisenhower once declared; “A sense of humor is part of of the art of leadership, of getting along with people, of getting things done”.

In view of all that has been discussed above the following definition of Sense Of Humor looks more balanced and apt:

The sense, which visualizes or understands the situations, things and people based on non-established, incongruous and funny ideas causing satisfaction, joy and relief from harsh realities of life, which develops personality and make life more organized.

Both common sense and sense of humor, as shown above deserve a rightful place in accordance with their importance and value they add to people as well as society at large. Time when they were taken lightly has long passed. They have not only grown in stature and  have shown that they represent two very valuable human qualities that are not only serious, but very much needed  to climb the ladder of success as well as making our world a better and joyous place to live. In real sense they are the senses of reason, judgment, balance, joy and managing life in the most proper way. I will end the write up with the quote of William James who equated common sense with sense of humor in a very subtle way.

“Common sense and a sense of humor are the same thing, moving at different  speeds. A sense of humor is just common sense, dancing.

Tasneem Hameed





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One Response to Common Sense And Sense Of Humor

  1. Nice post. I went through the post I found it very informative and useful. Thanks for sharing.

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