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My Turn: We use 7 senses, not just 5, help us through life

Ask anybody what the five senses are and they will say smell, hearing, touch, sight and taste. But there are two additional senses they will probably overlook. As we deal with the COVID-19 pandemic and more challenges in our country, many people don't use the other two senses — common sense and a sense of humor — or understand how important they can be.

These two senses must be taught, practiced and developed. When they are learned and used properly, each is an incredibly powerful human-connector sense. We learn common sense by listening to and observing others, by thinking and reading, and in our daily experiences. It works at work, home, with friends, building relationships and problem solving.

When we apply common sense to our behavior during the pandemic, we:

1) Maintain a safe 6-foot physical distance between ourselves and others when outside the home. The term social distancing isn't an oxymoron: We are clearly social beings, and we can still be social and interact while keeping the recommended physical space between ourselves and others.

2) Wash our hands when we return home, lathering with soap and hot water to include the backs of our hands and wrists. Travel-size cleansing wipes or hand sanitizer can be used in public areas for special situations.

3) Direct a sneeze or cough near others into your bent arm or inside your jacket — NOT into your hand.

4) Carry a mask wherever you go. Use it when shopping and apply disinfectant when handling such public accessories such as carts, gas pumps, door handles and elevator buttons.

These four common-sense steps will help protect you, your family and friends and others — including such essential workers as health care professionals, public servants and store employees. We are learning that common sense can be a real lifesaver.

And that sense of humor? We know laughter is good for our overall health, so humor can be a very important sense at this time. A good hearty laugh can relieve stress and physical tension — and leave your muscles in a relaxed state for up to 45 minutes. Laughing is said to boost your immune system and laughter can be an emotional healing agent.

It is important to use humor appropriately in social settings, with consideration given to the people in your company. (Inject humor at the wrong time, and others may think you're a jerk!) If you are certain the circumstances are comfortable, finding humor you and others may enjoy is quite easy. Humor is often generational, and there is TV humor or comedy to meet every generation. Try contrasting humor and comedians over the years; you'll see quite a difference! If you are a careful browser, internet humor abounds in memes and (safe) social media items forwarded from family and acquaintances.

Your common sense and sense of humor send clear signals about the type of person you are. Today more than ever, using these two additional senses can help you and others to support physical, social and emotional good health. Now, when someone asks you how many human senses there are, you can remind them there are actually seven.

One more thing: Smile more, even with a mask on because your cheeks wrinkle up and your eyes change when you smile — and people notice that.

Bob Wolf,

Rockville Centre

YOUR STORY Letters and essays for My Turn are original works (of up to 600 words) by readers that have never appeared in print or online. Share special memories, traditions, friendships, life-changing decisions, observations of life or unforgettable moments for possible publication. Email act2@newsday.com. Include name, address, phone numbers and photos if available. Edited stories may be republished in any format.

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