Not long ago I officially confirmed that I am in my right mind. Allow me to explain. For most of my life, I’ve been called a left brain dominant person and told I would be well-served to get out of my head and let go of attachment to my thoughts. Although I’ve tried practicing various forms of meditation, I’ve never quite mastered a quiet Zen-like mind.
Perhaps looking from the outside in, I do appear to be very left brain dominant. My strong language skills, love of words and writing, great ability to remember details both of the past and future (even though technically I haven’t been there yet) and my well-honed analytical abilities, (all left brain traits), all suggest I’m left brained.
Although we’ve been living in a left brain dominant world, I see that things are changing. More and more thought leaders talk about how right brain creatives will rule the world.
Life Changing Experience
The opportunity to hear Jill Bolte Taylor, Ph.D., the neuroanatomist who recovered from a massive left hemisphere blood clot speak live, was an amazing eye-opener for me. She was very captivating in talking about our brains and frankly, I was fascinated. Her book My Stroke of Insight, which I literally devoured in a day, was absolutely mind-expanding in explaining how our brains work, the differences between our right and left hemispheres and how these inform our learning, relating and experiences as human beings.
It took eight years for Dr. Taylor to completely recover all her functions and thinking ability, rebuilding her brain from the inside out. Her experience offered her the opportunity to be a first-hand witness to the possibility of stepping to the right of the left brain hemisphere, to experience a sense of deep inner peace and oneness, a connectedness to everything. What she calls an “at one with all that is”.
Her Ted talk is beautiful to watch with its engaging and passionate presentation, and is among their top five most watched talks, with over 19 million views.
Right Brain or Left Brain Dominance?
This is where my personal revelation comes in. I decided to do an online test (and there are many) and was surprised to find that I’m more of a right brain than a left brain person. My left hemisphere’s number one strength is in verbal communication, which was no surprise, but shows that linearity, a cornerstone of left brain thinking, was least dominant. Instead, my right brain showed great dominance in concrete and intuitive thinking, quite opposite of linear and sequential thinkers. Reading that actor Ryan Gosling said he has no master plan, no process and no agenda and operates entirely on instinct, really resonated with me.
All of this brought understanding to my seeming lack of process in the way I create. Although I’m strong with language and can engage in impromptu conversations with ease, my way of pulling information together has been challenging to explain to others. So often they suggest that a system or master plan would be a good thing. I smile and tell them I’m doing okay, thanks. I thought it was because I’m an Aquarian with five additional planets in air that I’m able to seemingly pluck ideas and information out of thin air and put it all together in some logical sequence, to bring it down to earth.
As a visually-oriented person, the world streams in strongly through this sense for me. It seems all of this complements my right brain random processing. For now, I’m going to believe it’s a combination of many things, not one in particular, that contributes to who I am. The fact is we all have brains which are uniquely individual, and we use both our right and left hemispheres in our own ways every day.
Famous Right Brain Creatives
My research found that there are many famous people, like Albert Einstein, Leonardo da Vinci, Abraham Lincoln, Salvadore Dali, Walt Disney, Thomas Edison and Mozart who were most likely right brained thinkers. They created from a place of inspiration, creativity and purpose and may not have been great students in the traditional sense.
In today’s label happy diagnostic world, they may even have been called learning disabled. I found an online document called Heart Centered Minds: Learning Differences, Not Disorders. What fascinated me was to read that the possibility that many of those diagnosed with learning disabilities might actually be right brain thinkers who just learn in a different way.
Personally, although I don’t have any direct experience with this, I’m aware that learning disability diagnoses are definitely on the rise.
The Hemispheres of the Brain
So, what are the differences between the right and left brain? In computer terms, the right brain is like a parallel processor, and about the present moment. It thinks in pictures, is non-verbal and seeks similarities using the information that streams in through our senses to determine what an experience looks, smells, tastes, feels and sounds like. It is in fact, about the bigger picture, is non-linear, holistic and creative. About how we connect in a universal oneness to everyone and everything in the right here and right now.
The left brain is like a serial processor. It thinks in language, is interested in the past and future and is concerned with the details it can extract to put things in a linear or sequential form. It seeks difference, is logical and is the critical analytical part of our being.
The Right Brain
If the right brain has no sense of time, is playful and lost in the flow, the left brain is on the clock, always with a sense of urgency. The right brain is compassionate. The left competitive and confrontational. The right brain connects us all. The left brain says we are separate from others. The right brain sees humour, while the left brain is serious. Our right brain is associated with the heart, the left the head. The right feels while the left thinks. The right is intuitive, the left logical. These are merely some of the differences.
Within hours of Dr. Taylor’s severe hemorrhage, from a blood clot the size of a golf ball in the left hemisphere of her brain, she was unable to walk, talk, read, write or recall any of her life. She found herself in what she described as la-la land or Nirvana. A Buddhist term, Nirvana is described as a place where we can be in a state of perfect happiness, a transcendent state where there is neither suffering, desire nor a sense of separate self. Other words to describe Nirvana: Paradise, bliss, ecstasy, joy, peace, serenity, enlightenment. Whether you are right or left hemisphere dominant, you get the picture.
We Can Choose to Be in Our Right Mind
And Dr. Taylor reports we have this choice to be in our right mind all the time. To step into the peacefulness and connectedness of the right brain. I found the following very profound. Dr. Taylor defines responsibility (response-ability) as the ability to choose how you respond to stimulation coming in through your sensory systems at any moment in time.
Although there are certain emotional (limbic system) programs that can be triggered automatically. Here’s the incredible part. “It takes less than 90 seconds for one of these programs to be triggered, surge through our body, and then be completely flushed out of our blood stream.”
The Choice is Ours
This means that if an anger response was triggered and you remain angry after 90 seconds, it’s because you have chosen to let that circuit continue to run. Moment by moment we make the choice to either hook into our neurocircuitry or move back into the present moment, allowing that reaction to melt away.
This indicates that we always have an alternate way of looking at any situation. She goes on to explain that if someone approaches you from a place of anger or frustration, you have two choices. You can either reflect your own anger and engage in argument (left brain) or be empathetic and approach the other with a compassionate heart (right brain). This freedom to make conscious choices gives us our own power to be responsible for what we attract into our lives.
Celebrating Our Human Similarities
Wouldn’t it be interesting to live in a world that celebrates how similar we are rather than one that dwells on our differences? According to Dr. Taylor, all humans share 99.99 percent identical genetic sequences. Biologically, we are virtually identical to each other at the level of our genes. How amazing to realize that the diversity in the human species comes from a mere .01 percent (1/100th of 1 percent) of difference. Each of us is comprised of 50 trillion molecular cells and only 1/100th of 1 percent marks our diversity or uniqueness.
I remembered a quote from fellow right brain thinker Albert Einstein. “I must be willing to give up what I am, in order to become what I will be.” We have this choice in every moment.
The Real Stroke of Insight
I’ll end with Jill Bolte Taylor’s description of what the real “stroke of insight” was in her experience. The peacenik in me resonated strongly with this. “Peace is only a thought away and all we have to do to access it is silence the voice of our dominating left mind.” She makes it sound so simple, yet the possibilities this suggests are profound.
In concluding, I know this is a huge topic with a complicated scope. My purpose is simply to share information and be a messenger of possibility. I look forward to hearing your personal experiences, right or left minded, as your insight might help others. Are you predominantly a right or left brain person?
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Dr. Taylor ‘s experience is definitely an interesting one. Learning that so many influential people had right brain tendencies is definitely an eye opener, considering the greats like Einstein, Da Vinci, and more, were included.
Thanks for your thoughts on this post and Dr. Taylor’s incredible experience, Christina! It is interesting to me as well to see that so many of our great creative thinker were all right brained too.
An interesting article, guess most of us would like to be in our right brain then…:-)
Katarina Andersson recently posted…Monterotondo – Traditional Winemaking with Passion in Tuscany
Thanks Katarina! I would definitely like to be in my right brain as much as possible, although I would guess that very highly analytical left brain types, couldn’t even imagine dwelling in their right brain for too long! 😉
This is awesome! It is really interesting to wonder how the brain works. Imagine this is just an aspect. There is also the conscious and subconscious and superconscious.
Absolutely Lorii! We have so many aspects to who we are and how we are in the world. All the research that is being done about the brain is bringing new understandings and opportunities for us all. Yes, there is the conscious and subconscious and unconscious, as well as the superconscious. How fascinating we human beings are!
I think I’m pretty well balanced between both sides of my brain – the creative and the rational sides. Although I enjoy the right brain side more. Does that make sense? To have a preference? Does that make me out of my mind? LOL
Jennifer Quisenberry recently posted…Music Review: Emeli Sande – Long Live the Angels
I also love living in the creative part of myself, Jennifer! Whenever I have to do tasks that require the more mundane and analytical parts of myself, I find myself longing for the creative and intuitive again. No, you aren’t out of your mind, you are just aware of your own preference and maybe that makes it easier for you to come from your right brain whenever you want too! 🙂
Thank for this info Beverley. I have baffled many who know me well–they argue that ‘you are clearly left brain’ and others argue ‘you are clearly right brain’…I just don’t have any clear pattern. Those who know me as the interior decorator, art dealer, art lover, pianist, etc just don’t get the technology geek, analytical part of me. But I do not embrace labels and refuse to be put in a box and I don’t do that to others.
Like you, I wish that humans would focus more on ways we are all similar rather than ways we are different. I believe it would eliminate a lot of intolerance and judgement
Rachel lavern recently posted…Business Lessons Learned During a Hike
It sounds like you have a very balanced left and right brain, Rachel! And that you call upon it as needed depending on what project or task you are involved in. I almost feel like I do too. I have very strong analytical abilities, but yet approach everything from a more intuitive and creative perspective. Sometimes it is challenging and I guess we appear to different people in different ways, depending on that.
Wouldn’t it be amazing if we did focus on the similarities we have with each other? The most interesting thing is that we actually have more in common than not. What a different world we have the opportunity to create now!
I’m not sure what side of my brain I favour most, although I know when I write or draw it comes from a different place than just regular thinking. When I need logic to jump in I’m pretty much completely left brained. The interesting thing is going with the flow and mixing it up with thinking can bring about a profound balance. I don’t even realize this and it’s usually when something has really worked and the outcome is like it was suppose to be. This women’s journey is amazing in itself, I would love to read her book!
Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experiences re left and right brain, Gilly! I think you are right and that sometimes we may be moving from one side to the other and not even realizing it. It is a wonderful practice to be able to step back and witness how it is bringing about balance too. Dr. Taylor’s book is definitely worth reading. I found it captivating and couldn’t put it down. Hope you have the chance to read it as well…even her TED Talk is worth taking the 18 plus minutes to watch!
Drawing on the righthand side of the brain popped into my mind when I saw your post and the imagery spoke to me as a right brain creative and intuitive- getting the balance is the challenge thanks xxx
Suzie Cheel recently posted…Did You Choose Your Word For 2017?
Yes, right-brain creatives would get the imagery and the meaning behind the title, Suzie! Finding the balance…ah yes, isn’t that what we are all striving for each moment of each day! xo
What a well-detailed post about our left and right side of our brains, Beverley! It is so amazing to learn about how each side works and how much we can learn in knowing why it is important 🙂
Thank you so much for sharing as I always learn so much by reading your posts!
Thanks so much Joan! I appreciate hearing you found this a well-detailed post about the brain. It really is amazing to learn more and then have the info to to see how we can make choices from that info. Happy you learn new things from reading my posts too! 🙂
I love Dr Taylor’s true insight, Beverley. Not sure which side of my brain is dominant since I’m competently creative and yet logic appeals to me. Time to take an assessment and find out for myself.
Vatsala Shukla recently posted…Career Networking Tip: Keep alligator happy if you want success
Thanks so much Vatsala! Appreciate your own curiosity and your observation that you might be using both sides of your brain in almost equal ways. Dr. Taylor is quite an inspiration for us all!
I am totally a left-brained person that has consciously chosen to use my right side. It doesn’t come easy, but it has benefited me in my relationships as well as my health.
It’s wonderful that you are practicing using both side of your brain, Karen. I see how all of us benefit from that both personally and the world needs this now too!
As you know this is right up my alley Beverley. Dr. Taylor is one of leading experts in helping to understand brain differences and stroke recovery. The whole idea of being definitively either right or left brain dominant is slowly shifting to understanding a more fluid movement between the two hemispheres. We are also beginning to let go of the value of the male, left brain model for education and business. Allowing children to explore their imaginations only helps later in life when it comes to finding unique solutions to problems that require a different approach. While women, in general, have a stronger right brain function, it often gets downplayed when they enter the workforce. But, a lot of that is also passing away as more and more women enter the business world or engage in online business world opportunities. It’s certainly letting us expand our brain power.
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Thanks for adding your expertise to the conversation, Joyce! I know this is your terrain. I agree that none of us are exclusively one or the other and I guess what was most interesting to me was that it helped explain why some of my tendencies are not classical left brain traits, but are in fact my right brain way of being and processing. Yes, I can see how this work and this understanding would encourage us to look at young people who ‘learn differently’ and allow them to develop with those strengths instead of labelling them in the ways the world seems to now. I agree that the divides are passing away and much of what I am reading also suggests we are moving more to an encouragement of right brain and creative people as a hope for the future. Appreciate your voice in this conversation and your expertise!
Loved this Beverley! Of course, I couldn’t wait to jump over and take the test and I had to laugh when it came up almost equally divided between left and right brain – no wonder I’m so confused!
Other than that no real surprises, I’m a reality-based planner, slightly stronger on the nonverbal vs verbal processing. Seriously, it was fascinating and I bookmarked Dr. Taylor’s talk to watch this afternoon. Thanks so much for the eye-opening article!
Marquita Herald recently posted…Why We Should Never Stop Questioning
Thanks for your enthusiastic resonance with this post, Marquita! I think for many of us we are surprised at how equally split we are between right and left brain. As you read, I was completely surprised, and relieved, to finally understand that my way of processing is more right-brain than left. Even though people see me as a left brain analytical type. Happy you enjoyed this and I know you’ll love Dr. Taylor’s TED talk too! Inspiring and revealing!
Great subject and very impressive research you shared, Beverley! I’ve been always referred to (labeled) as very analytical, right brain person and I simply assumed that creativity is not ‘my thing’… But it is… when it comes to my heart! 🙂 I also like this quote “if an anger response was triggered and you remain angry after 90 seconds, it’s because you have chosen to let that circuit continue to run.” – so true! Thank you!
What is so interesting is that you described yourself as a very analytical ‘right brain’ person, Millen, when actually the analytical side is the left brain. Perhaps your creativity side was speaking when you wrote that! 🙂 And that quote about the anger response seems to have really struck a chord with a lot of people. It certainly shifts the way we think about our emotions and offers so much more choice and power in our choices!
What a rich article on the brain. Looking forward to taking the test later. The brain and plasticity has been in the news a lot lately, and I love looking again at the right and left brain, especially in relation to strokes.
Jill Bolte Taylor’s Ted Talk is great. When I studied psychology in college I studied William Glasser, a cognitive behaviorist. He referred to feelings as actions. For instance, one may choose to anger and would be angering. One may be sadding, or happying. That has been my way of thinking for many years. Candace Pert also wrote Molecules of Emotions where she found that the molecules of emotion are stored in all cells of our body.
There is so much to learn and this article is a great start. Thanks for sharing this!
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Thank you so much for sharing these amazing resources re William Glasser and Candace Pert, Candess! The work of Candace Pert sounds similar to that of Peter Levine and his Somatic Experiencing, as he found that our emotions are stored at a cellular level, they are not thoughts we can think away. Often they are unknown to us but are triggered when we experience similar events to when they were formed. Amazing stuff, isn’t it? I love how much we are learning and how that could lead to new understanding and change!
Yes, there is so much to learn and for all of us who are curious and take an interest, hopefully we can support others with these new findings as well. Many thanks for your contribution through your comments!
I was intrigued and resistant to read this – at the same time. My mother’s beloved recently passed away due to a stroke – no he was not as fortunate as Jill Bolte. But nontheless, I thoroughly enjoyed learning from her. I also was inspired by the information on how it only takes 90 seconds for an emotion to run thru you and if you stay with one (say a negative one) you are consciously choosing it. I was aware of this to some degree but feel more educated that you have shared the timing to flush out and make a new choice! Great stuff, thank you Beverley.
Thanks for taking the time to read this even though you have in some ways just been through this with you mother and her experience with her beloved, Teresa! I think the info that Dr. Taylor experienced and is sharing is incredibly invaluable for us all. What an insight into how our brain works and how once we understand it, we can make more informed choices. I also love hearing that we have a choice not to stay in a negative emotion if we choose not to! Imagine if more people chose differently how much our world would change!
Fascinating, Beverley, and great title, too. As you can imagine, I was seeing parallels with masculine/feminine dichotomy. I think the goal with either is to see how both sides can best work together!
Reba Linker recently posted…Heal in a Heartbeat: Interview with Gary Sinclair
Thanks so much Reba! Appreciate your thoughts and yes, the masculine/feminine is definitely aligned with the right/left brain in my eyes too. I see how many right-brained thinkers are misunderstood and like you, my hope would be that we learn to understand and see how both sides can best work together too!
I know very little about the right and left sides of the brain–as evidenced by your detailed explanation. Prior to reading your article, I would have categorized myself as a right brain person. But now I understand that I’m a bit of both! I’d like to know why one is more dominant at times…it seems to me it has to do with hormones, fatigue, and time of day. Dr. Taylor is amazing!
Thanks, Meghan, very happy you found this article interesting! I would guess that different parts of the brain are activated based on the tasks you are doing. If you are working on a creative project that requires imagination and intuition, then your right brain will kick in. When faced with more analytical and more linear tasks, I see how the left brain would kick in. Although, for some people they shift from one to the other almost like it is second nature and perhaps the environment we’re in matters a lot too. Something for me to investigate for sure. Yes, Dr. Taylor really is amazing and her message is incredibly inspiring as well!
I love the part about choosing to stay angry. You make that choice to move on! Thank you for this insightful article.
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Glad that part resonated with you, Anne! I think it is very eye-opening for many people. To think that we have control based on our choices. Appreciate hearing that you found this article insightful too!
“I must be willing to give up what I am, in order to become what I will be.” – I love that quote and the confirmation we have a choice on how to react. I haven’t done any tests but research suggests left-handers, such as me, are guided more from our right brain. Dr Taylor’s story was amazing and another example of the power we have over our thoughts and our lives.
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Love what you took from this article, Tami! Yes, we do have a choice but I imagine many people don’t believe they do and their emotions run them. My sense of you, without having met you, is that you are very right brained and operate from that creative space a lot of the time and in how you are in the world! I agree with you that Dr. Taylor’s story is quite amazing and inspiring if we take the lessons she learned and apply them to ourselves.
This is great article and very interesting on the right and left brain and how we use and how the difference are clearly demonstrated in the way right brain people are thinking with the heart more. The research is very interesting and I enjoy this subject. thanks for a wonderful article.
Happy your enjoyed this Lori! Yes, I also find the differences between right and left brain ways of thinking and being, quite fascinating. Right brain people often are more heart-centred and more intuitive indeed.
First… it appalled me to hear that someone say to you to get out of your head. WHAT? As you were explaining you taking the test.. I was wondering.. hmmm, what am I – I am thinking I would be pretty close to equal.. because I see myself creative (not so much of the holistic, art, poetic creative) but also analytic… took the test you mentioned.. I was right! Go figure 55% left brain and 45% right brain so while I am left brain dominant/analytical… I am pretty creative too. Interesting… and while it’s all interesting, kind of like strengths or weaknesses, we need to be sure that it doesn’t define us or hold us back. Interesting again Bev
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I think when people tell me to get out of my head, it is more about over thinking things, Kristen. Not that thinking is bad, but overthinking is often stressful. It’s interesting that you are almost equally right and left brain and for me at least when I did the test, it gave me more clarity into myself and I felt relieved in some ways to understand that I am very right brained with strong left brained tendencies. I guess it is what each of us chooses to do with the info and to make sure not to let it bog us down or box us in.
You know, it’s funny. I’m naturally a right-brained being, but can shift to left brain when I need it. That really is helpful! If given my druthers though, I’d just stay on the right side 🙂
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I also feel like you that I can shift when needed, Susan. Even though people often see me as more left-brained. I’ve learned that acknowledging my way of processing things, is actually a big strength of mine. I much prefer living in the creative and more imaginative right side too and am healthier and happier there. Darn left brain analytical capacities. though…they seem to love to be front and center. 🙂
??? WOW!!!! This is so very true. I am 100% right brained I believe. I have many learning differences and sensory processing differences. Undiagnosed as well as ADHD. As well I am intelligent, loving, imaginative, and I always have millions of amazing ideas. If only the left brained could work with the right brained what a magical world we would live in.
Such an inspiring read ?
It’s wonderful to hear how you identified with the information shared in this article, Jenny! I agree with you about the left-brained people understanding and working with those who are right-brained. We’d see a lot more balance in the world if we did!
This means that if an anger response was triggered and you remain angry after 90 seconds, it’s because you have chosen to let that circuit continue to run. <—-This is fascinating and very true we just don't like to admit it. Thank you for this reminder. I need to choose my mindset more often.
Renee groskreutz recently posted…Entrepreneur Tip Of The Day: Are You Drinking Enough Water?
I also found that point fascinating Renee! Imagine how much more peaceful our world would be if people choose to let it go and not hold on to any of the emotions that often bog us down. Yes, it is about choosing and even the science shows we all can do it!
This help explain how we can use either or both sides of our brain at any given time. Fascinating topic & I appreciated your overview.
Thanks for reading this Roslyn. Yes, I also find this really fascinating and it helped to explain a lot of things about myself that I previously didn’t understand. Knowing I am more of a right brain thinker with strong left brain tendencies, makes perfect sense to me now.
This is nice article. I can relate to it. I am presently doing my research on Brain Dominance of teachers and their teaching style.
Thanks Adem. Sounds very fascinating. My first question would be if left brain individuals are more likely to teach linear and logical subjects, and the right brain teachers more inclined to teach creative subjects? Or do you find that the creative aspect comes into their style of teaching versus the subjects they choose to teach? Appreciate you stoping by to read this and to commenting. Good luck on your research!