Whole Brain Is Good For You

Let’s talk about our brain. We all know a little bit about our right and left hemispheres from grade school. The left hemisphere is more logical. It reasons sequentially, performs exact calculations, applies rules and is analytic. Imagine your left hemisphere buying candy. Your only thought would be a deduction of cause and effect. If I put money in this slot then candy will come out of the machine. Math would be employed by pulling the correct amount of cash from your wallet. Rules would be followed because all the bills must be right side up. You would consider the act a success because you got the candy. Now the right side of you head is a totally different story.

The right hemisphere of your brain is more emotional. It reasons holistically, recognizes patterns and interprets emotions and non-verbal expressions. Now imagine your right hemisphere buying candy. Your thoughts would consists of everything from why you shouldn't have candy because it will give you acne to how you should pick some up for your coworker who’s having a rough day. You’ll notice how the candy on the eye level shelf is the least healthy. And you’ll realize that what you really want is five minutes to yourself. You may still buy the candy, but you’ll also take the time to enjoy it before you go back to your regularly scheduled life. Depending on which side of your head is dominant you could have a completely different candy purchasing experience.

Here is a test you can take to see which side is dominant in your own head: www.mtsu.edu/~studskl/hd/hemispheric_dominance.html

Apparently my left hemi is slightly overruled by my right hemi. Daniel Pink would approve. In his book A Whole New Mind, he describes two forms of thinking or attitudes: L-directed and R-directed. These are very similar to the left and right hemispheres described above. L-directed thinking is sequential, literal, functional, textual and analytic. R-directed thinking is simultaneous, metaphorical, aesthetic, contextual and synthetic. People tend to lean one way or the other and their chosen professions reflect this. People who lean toward L-directed thinking become lawyers, accountants and engineers. R-directed thinkers become inventors, entertainers, designers and counselors.

L-directed thinking currently fuels our American workforce. Professionally we are judged by tangible achievements, rewarded for financially accountable results and encouraged to climb up the ladder. But this is changing, our workforce is shifting. One could argue that in order to meet the challenges we face in the 21 century we will need to merge both attitudes. We all need to become a little brain ambidextrous. Something David Kelley’s d.school at Stanford University has been encouraging for almost a decade. http://dschool.stanford.edu/ There students from different curriculums work together to come up with creative problem solving ideas. L-directed souls learn to explore the other half of their head. We should all try it.

Many of us are looking for more intangible job satisfaction. We have discovered value in flexible work structures and doing what we love. Pick up any women’s magazine today and you can read about women trading in lucrative jobs to go live on a farm, or finding time to create an eco-fashion empire while raising six multi-cultural kids. Our values have changed. The definition of success has changed. We don’t want it all. We want what we want.

In the past a job was what you did to pay the bills. You worked to survive, to put food on the table and keep a roof over your head. Then working became about having money to support a lifestyle. We had extra money so we bought stuff. We thought we were entitled to have more. We needed the latest and greatest whatever. We deserved it somehow. We are starting to realize that most of the stuff we've acquired is just junk. Now we search out experiences and meaning. Valuing experiences speaks to the right side of our brain and changes how we perceive our world and how we want to spend our days. We no longer are willing to slave ourselves to reach the next rung on the ladder, so we approach our professions differently. Our jobs are only part of who we are. Some of us will still be L-directed thinking professionals. The world will always need lawyers. But we may be lawyer by day and puppeteer by night. Each one of us has both left and right hemis to nurture. If you find yourself trapped in a monotonous job that lacks meaning start thinking with the other half of your head.