Left Brain, Right Brain

“A creative idea will be defined simply as one that is both novel and useful (or influential) in a particular social setting.” ~ Alice Flaherty

We have many creative people in our world. Many, conveniently, blog among us. In the WordPress Reader I recently found a Chris DelatorreΒ post. He’s a creative thinker and (if you’ll pardon the simple word) doer.

Being creative or artistic doesn’t mean you know how to draw or play an instrument. Being creative is a way of thinking, a way of viewing the world. Creative people simply use the right side of their brains more than the left. The enduring question with creativity has always been whether the defining factors come from nature or nurture. Everyone can learn to be creative to some degree, but new Cornell University research has revealed that the extent to which we’re born creative may be greater than previously thought.

As a hardwired ‘left brainer,’ I find some comfort in now knowing this. πŸ™‚

In one of his posts, Chris writes that he believes science and art ought to make a home together. In this video, Max Cooper creatively depicts life coming into being, blooming and then vanishing. I’d be challenged enough to find the right words to express that, let alone create what he has visually.

Researchers have also confirmed that creativity flourishes in solitude. With quiet, you can hear your thoughts, you can reach deep within yourself, you can focus.

If exploring the right side of your corpus callosum is something that interests you, here are three easy enablers:

  1. Pause from business thinking. Or any kind of thinking that requires intense focus. While it might be challenging to step outside ‘business mode,’ the mind sometimes needs a rest from bottom-line thinking. Consider taking a mental vacation and indulge in something you’re passionate about. Then come back, refreshed, to the task(s) at hand. You may see things in a very different light. Being with beautiful things (art, nature, passions) creates connections that we often neglect to notice.
  2. Shut down your inner critical voice. Notice I said “critical.” Don’t think. Disable the part of your brain that observes what you’re doing. This is your ego, your sabotage, your self-consciousness. Be in the moment (I know, I say this often). Stop second-guessing everything you’re doing. It serves no purpose to be hard on yourself. Remind yourself that you are creative and that you’re doing what you’re doing not to impress anyone.
  3. Experiment and play with possibility. It’s easy to dismiss unusual or different solutions which you haven’t tried. People often think of all the possible ways that something won’t work. And they easily dismiss the idea of experimenting. We can’t foretell the future even though many would like to. Simply go forward into it in a creative and exciting new way.
Source: Getty Images

Source: Getty Images

64 thoughts on “Left Brain, Right Brain

  1. Sage words of advice. ‘Stop second guessing….remind yourself that you are creative.’ I shall remind myself of this when working on the next blog post. πŸ™‚

  2. It’s really interesting that after all these years I’ve begun to really exercise my right brain. I’ve recently retired from nursing where so much of medicine requires the left brain (but nurses do have to be creative in certain ways too). I surprise myself sometimes, and wonder if all of this has been locked up inside me all this time, or is it evolving because I’m working on it and surrounding myself with a lot of creative people here on WordPress. Thanks for the link to Chris Delatorre.

    • For we who are less (naturally) right brain inclined, I like your word “exercise” Angeline. And as research shows, some of us possess the right brain leaning more than others. As a nurse, I suspect you can appreciate the related research even more. Nature or nurture? πŸ™‚ Thanks for your thoughtful comment and you’re welcome for the link to Chris’s blog.

  3. Hi Eric,

    That is truly a unique video! Thanks for sharing. I believe creativity is an innate trait though it can be polished and nurtured by various experiments. We need both sides of the brain – one to fantasize and the other to live life! Thanks for sharing your wise tips.

    • Clearly, Balroop, we need both sides of our brains. Imagine an even more divided and unimaginative society if people were largely or exclusively left or right brained. There is a kind ans wise blogger that I follow who recently posted about what he calls “positive envy.” In some respects, I suspect the ‘lefties’ would like a little more of what the ‘righties’ possess and vice versa. πŸ™‚

  4. I just had a conversation last night with a friend about creativity. Interesting that the points you make here are very much what I have been going over in my head as of late. The need for solitude. The freedom of just doing without worrying about whether it is good, bad or brilliant…just let myself have fun with the creating of what ever! And the ‘whatever’ is covering a wide range of writing, drawing, photography, mixing them, building things, music. It’s amazing what I have begun doing once I stopped expecting myself to be perfect at the trying of it. πŸ™‚

  5. Great message, and one I have been working toward. My negativity toward myself has hindered my life in so many ways. Thanks for more tips to shut that negativity out.

    • It is encouraging, April, to know that some of the suggestions and/or considerations that I’ve shared are helpful to you. πŸ™‚ Here’s to your continuing to make positive, forward progress!

  6. I’ve always felt everyone is born with creative instinct and its developed due to our nurturing these urges. I am highly creative…now I wonder if its because I enjoy both solitude and I’m not afraid to play.

  7. Great post Eric! Love your simple and accessible ideas for accessing our innate creative power.

    “Researchers have also confirmed that creativity flourishes in solitude. With quiet, you can hear your thoughts, you can reach deep within yourself, you can focus.”

    Solitude and quiet are essential to much of my creative process, no matter the medium. I suppose that’s why I like WordPress so much, I can dip in, and get inspired by others, by their amazing insights, some of whom I imagine value solitude and quiet just as much as I do!

    Thanks Eric πŸ™‚

  8. It’s always interesting to me to think about this topic. I would say I’m more right brained but I do plenty of left brain things, too. Then again there are those times when I have no brain moments as well. πŸ™‚ Have a good one, Eric! Always enjoy your posts.

      • I did listen to her Ted Talk, but this post is on her book, My Stroke of Insight.

        The initial chapters address who she was before, during, and after the stroke as she regained the use of her left brain. It’s a quick and interesting read, despite the heady nature of the topic under discussion, especially if you’ve ever known someone who suffered from the aftermath of a stroke or other brain injury.

        For me, the really fascinating information is reached in Chapter 15, My Stroke of Insight, as she addresses the differences between the left analytical brain and right experiential brain and how they help us interpret the world.

        I summarized the differences in my post so I won’t elaborate here.

  9. Personally, I think creativity is looked upon too much as a solely right-brained activity. I believe, personally, that there are different flavors of creativity, if you will. You can place a paint brush on a blank canvas and create a work of art. Or, you can take the blank page of a code editor and create a work of art in the form of a website, app, or computer program. The result in both cases is the same, bringing an abstract thought our idea into concrete form using both or either of our left brain and right brain.

    I attended a science and engineering festival with my family in Washington D.C. this spring. The acronym STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) has been all the rage over the last several years. A new one has begun to crop up, STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math). Pardon the pun, but I am happy to see that this one is picking up more steam. It is never either/or, in my opinion. But rather, it is a unique combination and melding of the two that creates something very unique in each and every one of us. Great post, thanks for sharing!

    • Thanks for your always thoughtful sharing, Dave. We as beings, our thoughts and our creations are a beautiful amalgam. Who and what we are and how we contribute is indeed, the melding of the two sides of our brains. Aren’t we fortunate?! As shared in an earlier reply, it is pleasing that we’re a diverse blend… a fascinating mix of left and right. Out of both come the strengths and personal gifts that allows for our diversity. Who needs clones? πŸ™‚

  10. I’ve been given advice many times over to declutter my mind. Yeah, I tend to overthink and over-analyze. But I’m like Sherlock Holmes that way. I like thought experiments. I can live in my thought palace πŸ˜€

      • Haha yes! Although I do have the tendency to become clumsy and uncoordinated that way. My head is high up in the clouds while I’m crossing the street! A dangerous combination! :p

  11. Great post and excellent advice Eric! After doing mostly left brain stuff all my life, I’ve noticed that the older I get the more right brained I feel πŸ™‚

  12. I enjoy being part of a creative family where art is appreciated and all of us use our talents! I am glad you mentioned that people need to shut down your inner voice, (if is based on insecurities) and turn on your playful and imaginative side of your brain. I am glad you commented on my television and also, movies post. I am a big one for enjoying movies, too. Thank you for letting me know you have not watched t.v. for over 14 years. If you wish to go back and comment about a favorite movie, you could do that. I did not try to center that post about Robin Williams, actually had been preparing my quirky characters welcome post awhile ago! Smiles, Robin

  13. Thank you for your thoughtful comment, Robin. I appreciate and enjoy your posts. When I share a comment (with many bloggers I follow), I simply ‘put it out there’ as kindly as I can. πŸ™‚ There *are* times when I miss having a TV but I also know my weaknesses and procrastination tendencies. Ergo, No TV. And oddly, I’ve been in a movie theater perhaps thrice in the past 4-5 years. It’s not that I don’t enjoy great shows and movies, I believe it’s just me morphing into the next version of me. Sorry if that’s just enough sharing to make little sense. πŸ™‚ You seem to be doing what you want and comfortable with your choices. Bravo! And thanks for stopping by.

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