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Fri, April 19

Column: Nurture 'uncommon sense' to succeed

This column is another installment of "Granddaddyisms" I shared with our eldest grandson a few years ago when he was a teenager.

"Dylan, here is an important lesson about yourself and other people. Being human, we see what we want to see, hear what we want to hear, and believe what we want to believe. The cliché 'Don't bother me with the facts, my mind is made up' has a lot of truth in it. To carry this a little further, we see things not as they are, but as we are. We process information through our own unique individual filter. Our perceptions of the world are determined by who we are and what we choose to believe, see and hear. Never underestimate this reality.

"Nothing of real consequence can be accomplished without passion. Always nurture yours.

"I suspect you are probably too old for a short discourse on the birds and bees, so I will move forward and share with you a few thoughts about an important related matter. When two individuals are attracted to one another, a major issue they must deal with is their hormones and the corollary feelings of lust. Here is the catch. Too many young people mistake lust for love. In marriages, over time, the feelings of lust become less intense. If the spouses have equated lust with love, this may cause the individuals to believe that their love is diminishing because their physical responses to one another are less intense. One consequence for many couples is to end their marriages because their love life isn't what it used to be. The fact is, sustaining an intense sexual relationship is challenging as the years accumulate. Here is my point: In a mature relationship a couple gradually realizes that companionship is really the essence of their lives together and this understanding becomes the center and focus of a couple's later years. So, when entering into relationships, look for a person you enjoy being with and who has the character and qualities that go far beyond immediate sensual impressions. In the long run, the determinant of a happy union is this: Will this individual make a good companion for the rest of your days on this planet? You may not feel a certainty, but you can feel a strong probability. And, of course, if I'm still hanging around then, give me a call. I've spent decades with the best companion imaginable. I'll probably have an opinion or two.

"As you add years to your age, the people you are likely to respect the most are those who put the common good before their self-interest.

"Be aware that common sense is worth possessing, but it IS common. Everyone has a bit of it; some people have more than others. What you should strive to develop is uncommon sense, which is the ability to see what others don't. You should learn to look beyond the surface of the matter, to look for what's different about a situation, to examine the consequences, explore different dimensions, seek out alternative options. Uncommon sense sets a person apart from others. Be uncommon, Dylan.

"If you choose your words carefully when presenting an argument, you will never need to shout.

"Only fools are self-satisfied. A wise person is never satisfied with himself, his accomplishments or the quality of his life. An individual, man or woman, can always do better.

"I believe that wishful thinking is a belief in magic. Too many people sit around waiting for some sort of inspiration that will enable them to accomplish an assignment or suddenly become creative. They prefer to wait for a magical moment rather than commit themselves to the rigorous demand of disciplining their minds, or pursuing the boring requirements of detailed follow-through. During the 15 years that I wrote newspaper columns, I thought about putting this subtitle under my heading of 'The Human Condition': 'The Muse Never Showed Up, So I Had To Write This Stuff Myself.'"

Dr. Ron Barnes is a retired educator and businessman.


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