While this question is a little misleading – we actually use both sides of the brain to take in, process and interpret information in our daily lives – each of us would likely characterize ourselves as being predominantly one or the other.
Do you prefer checklists, strict timelines and organized workflow? Or do you prefer flexibility in how you approach a project and have difficulty sticking to one project at a time? The difference in these two situations is the difference between which side of your brain you use more predominantly.
Our brain’s are divided into two hemispheres to create efficiency. Each side of the brain is responsible for it’s own set of tasks that work in concert with the other so as to allow both sides of the brain to become specialized and increase our brain’s processing power. Think of it like a computer – your brain is like two high powered dual core processors.
The left side of the brain is your logic centre. Complex equations, analytical thinking, and language are controlled on this side of the brain. The right side of your brain is your creative centre, which governs your feelings, intuition, and imagination. The brain actually works in a criss-cross manner with the left side controlling your right side body and your right side controlling your left side body. This explains, for example, why most left handed people tend to be more creative.
Knowing which side of the brain is your dominant side can help you employ balance in your daily life. For example, if you’re more right side dominant you might find it harder to organize a larger workload in the work place. But partnering with someone who is left side dominant may help you prioritize your work, leading you to better time management and greater success.
Likewise, someone who is left side dominant could rely on someone right side dominant to help them take a mental break from the stress and mundane nature of their work by relaxing the workplace environment. They can also help workplace morale by reminding their left side counterparts to include feelings into the mix when it comes to decision making that affects others.
A great example of striking this balance can be seen from the core dynamic of Kirk, Spock and McCoy from Star Trek. Spock is cooly logical and approaches decision making without the interference of emotion. This can be seen as an asset in a lot of ways, but the downside is that his approach can create conflict for people who cannot see his point of view. He sees the needs of the few as being more important than the needs of the one.
Comparatively, McCoy is very passionate and governed by emotion. From his point of view the needs of the one could very well outweigh the needs of the few or many. His disagreements with Spock help form the basis for many of Kirk’s decision making as Captain of the Enterprise, as well as create entertainment for Star Trek’s audience.
Captain Kirk, on the other hand, strikes the balance between the left brained Spock and right brained McCoy. While he exudes emotion and is incredibly passionate, he is also very focused on making the right decisions that affect the safety of his crew (even if there are a few too many red shirts who meet untimely demises!). In striking this balance Kirk is able to illicit the trust and confidence of his people in him as a leader.
Whether by nature or by nurture, I find myself divided pretty much equally between left and right. Growing up my Mother was the more logical one. She’s great at math and making linear decisions. My Father, on the other hand, is more passionate and creative. He can intuitively find his way around completing projects and is great at spacial reasoning.
While my mind leans towards making logical and analytical decisions first, my intuitive side helps me translate this information into action. This has become a great asset in my work life. Not only does it help me organize and subsequently execute tasks and projects with more ease, it also helps me make the right decisions that positively impact both business and people.
This balance is even more appreciated in my personal life. I am certainly a creature of habit who enjoys routines and systematic approaches to my day, but my creative side ensures that I spice things up with some spontaneity from time to time. This is probably why I’m a highly self-sufficient individual. I like my time being structured and mapped out so I feel like I have tent poles holding up my social and work life. But every now and then I like to set aside time with absolutely no purpose so I can enjoy some “me” time. It’s this approach that generally refuels me for the busy schedule I like to create for myself.
It’s interesting how both sides of my brain work together to do the simplest of tasks. For example, when it comes to decorating – which relies heavily on aesthetics – I want the space around me to appeal to my feelings; creating a warm, inviting space. But I still factor in the practicality of the design to ensure that everything serves a purpose or function.
So whether you have right brain or left brain dominance, or feel equally divided down the middle, being aware of which side you lean can help you develop balance in your daily life and an understanding towards people who approach things differently than you. Reminding ourselves that there is no right or wrong way, merely different ways of thinking, can help enrich our lives by opening ourselves up to a broader point of view.
Below are links to a few left brain/right brain quizzes that generally assess which side of the brain you utilize most. Keep in mind it’s not pure science, but it is fun to see your result and see how accurate you think it is.
- The 30 Second Brain Test: http://braintest.sommer-sommer.com/en/
- Brain Dominance Test: http://www.personalitytest.net/questionnaires/braindominance/index.html
- Left Brain/Right Brain Test: http://testyourself.psychtests.com/testid/3178