Kokopelli Conga

Kokopelli Conga
"A work of art that did not begin in emotion is not art." --Paul Cezanne

May 1, 2018

Right Brain? Left Brain? ... Let's Rid Ourselves of the Labels and the Preconceived Notions!

Background image source: Death to Stock Photos








Are you a Right Brain or a Left Brain...a "numbers person" or a "creative sort"?

Why should we have to choose? Why do we need to define ourselves as an "analytical thinker" or a "creative thinker"? Why can't a person be both? Has anyone heard of Leonardo DaVinci - one of the most important historical figures to contribute to both science and to art? Anyone remember a theoretical physicist named Albert Einstein - who also happened to be a violinist and a pianist?

Image sources: Public domain.
Copyright belongs to photographers/designers/image owners














Image sources: Public domain.
Copyright belongs to photographers/designers/image owners












I happen to work in a very analytical profession. Mot of my days are spent analyzing data and trying to interpret that data into useful reports to help inform the business decisions of our organization. I am good at what I do and have improved my analytical skills as my career has progressed. But, it is my ability to look at data creatively that has helped the most in my analytical job. Not just pulling the numbers, but also interpreting what they mean and how that information might help in facing challenges or continuing success.

In fact, a "numbers person" would not be the first thing that comes to mind were I to describe myself to others. I am a mother. I am a wife. I am an artist. I like to have fun, I like to organize, and I like to make things. I am also a researcher. Analyzing data is something I do, not who I am. Pigeonholing me into the "left brain" or "numbers person" box is inaccurate. Outside the media business world, I am a painter and the owner of my own home-based art business. I am the President of a watercolor society with 300+ members. I am a marketer, promoter, event planner, social coordinator, referee, and household Co-CEO. Just as in my profession, these activities all employ both creative and analytical thinking.

The general instinct to classify people as left-brain or right-brain thinkers, either logical and analytical or artistic and emotion-driven is frustrating. People are all of these things to some degree. Some may lean one way more than another, but our brains are complex. Some people lean equally to analytics and emotion. All the parts work together to create the whole person. 

Image source: Death to Stock Photos
I once had an art teacher in high school with whom I was discussing a grade. He had allowed me to do some extra credit work to bring my grade up for an assignment I had missed, but then neglected to give me the credit for the extra work. I happened to be an A grade student. When I went to discuss my grade with him, he asked to see my report card. Then he said to me "Oh...you're one of those." Now, I don't remember a lot about high school, but I do remember this comment and his implications that went with it. If I was "one of those" then I couldn't be a true artist. It was the first time it had been brought to my attention that somehow society believes I must be ruled by creative-thinking or logical-thinking, but I couldn't be equally influenced by both. 

We need to rid ourselves of the notion that we must be one or the other. The world is full of DaVincis and Einsteins who show us that people can be analytical and creative. In fact, I believe that using both logic and creativity at all times and in all our pursuits heightens our success in both types of endeavors.

An article in ScienceDaily talks about STEM studies and the relation of creative thinking to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. 

"Creative thinking and problem solving are essential in the practice of math and science," he said. "Incorporating art into math and science will not only help students become more creative and better problem solvers, it will help them understand math and science better."

Here is another article from Harvard Medical School proposing that people being either "right-brained" or "left-brained" may be a myth. Linking certain traits to one side of the brain or other might be inaccurate as people use both sides of their brains. 

"...the evidence discounting the left/right brain concept is accumulating. According to a 2013 study from the University of Utah, brain scans demonstrate that activity is similar on both sides of the brain regardless of one's personality."

And, now that I've presented you with the analytical research, here is some "emotional" evidence. Along with using analytics in my life, I also create and engage my artistic and emotional brain functions. These are photos of some of my paintings on display at a local art fundraiser and also of my hallway linen/supply closet that I organized using the logical, yet emotional, #konmari method. Let me propose this: creative thinking is an absolutely necessary component in closet organization!














So, the next time you look at someone who is good at math and analytics and think that this must be their passion and/or it's the only way their brain works... Or, the next time you see a paint-splattered, hair-frazzled artist in colorful, mismatched socks and think that they must be unable to keep track of their business operations and household checking...think again.

Think about yourself. Do you want to be defined by only one thing that you happen to be good at? I would guess not. We are all guilty of assuming we know about a person when we only know them in one aspect of their life. Maybe that is human nature. Or maybe it originates from this societal tendency to categorize the Right Brains from the Left Braing, and to somehow make a person feel they must be one or the other. It's time to change that!

Let's rid ourselves of the Left Brain/Right Brain labels and preconceived notions! The world needs creative thinkers and analysts - and there is also room for those who can do both!


As always, thanks for stopping by my blog.

Note: Opinions expressed are my own. 

Image sources: Death to Stock Photos or public domain. Copyright belongs to image owners/photographers/designers

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