[ lifehack.org ] Why It’s Difficult to Be Creative: An Underdeveloped Right Brain

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Why It’s Difficult to Be Creative: An Underdeveloped Right Brain

Most of the works in the society are driven by the left-brain, which does best with linear and logical thought processes. Think about the academic settings, everything from class content to assessments of languages, maths and sciences are designed to work in a logical manner. When it comes to work, most jobs involve tasks that are procedural work and most forms of fact-checking. The performance of all these tasks executed by the left-brain are easily quantified. This has set the left-brain for better training than the right-brain.

The power of the right-brain, which rests in creativity and problem solving, is often ignored or dismissed because it is harder to understand and its performance is more difficult to be quantified.

But complex problems require the creativity of the right-brain. New solutions can’t be implemented without a logical left-brain. Before anyone could manufacture the first Model A Ford, the car had to be designed from scratch. Henry Ford needed imagination to invent the car before he could ever hope to put one together.

The Long-Forgotten Value of Intuition

The left-brain is excellent at solving math problems or working out a science experiment using linear processes rooted in facts and empirical evidence. Some problems don’t require linear solutions, however. The right-brain, which uses intuition to solve a problem, may come up with a greater number of solutions or approaches to a situation.

To create something entirely new, it’s important to envision things that have never been done before. The right-brain embraces the unknown unknowns best at the forefront of innovation.

Society’s need for a safe alternative to the gaslight led Thomas Edison to invent the incandescent light bulb.[1] It’s hard to envision a world without light bulbs, but before they existed, they had to be imagined. Wilbur and Orville Wright’s obsession with becoming airborne flew in the face of scientific facts. The airplane they invented changed the course of human history, but that could not have happened if the Wright brothers’ thinking was rooted in logic.

Logic Alone Doesn’t Accelerate Creativity

Things need to make sense, but ideas which rely solely on left-brained modes of operating tend to lack relatability. It is the right-brained person’s ability to balance logic and emotion that leads to innovation that people can rally around. Logical ideas may be based in fact, but it often takes an appeal to emotion, a right-brained talent, to make people want to invest time or energy into the idea.

It may seem like left and right brained tendencies are polar opposites, but the brain produces the best work when it connects creativity and logicality. Imagine that you have to write a speech. You need the logical disposition of the left-brain to organize your thoughts so that your purpose is clear. You also need to be able to create an emotional connection to your listeners to bring your points to life, or else the speech will sound like an instruction manual to the audience.

Writers experience this same need to combine their creative and logical forces. When Stephen King describes the act of creating stories in On Writing, he says,

“Writing is telepathy.”[2]

No, writers don’t read minds, but they must possess the logical ability to string words together and the emotional capacity to forge a connection to another person’s mind where one does not exist.

Train the Right-Brain Without a Hitch

In school, we train left-brain qualities through repeated math drills, scientific experiments, and language studies. The right-brain is often relegated to elective courses such as art, home economics, or the wood shop. The dominant pattern in society suggests that tasks which involve are creativity are just extras that we tack onto the day after reading, writing, and arithmetic.

But just because the world is left-brain dominant doesn’t mean that our right-brain tendencies should decline from lack of use. There are ways that you can use your right-brain every day — using your imagination.

1. Flip your perspective.

One way that you can do this is through imagining the world from another person’s perspective.

Video game aficionados do this with certain types of role-playing games, but you can also accomplish this by putting yourself into a hypothetical scenario. You might say, “If I were Steven Spielberg, I would ____,” or “If I were Tesla, I would____.”

2. Do a 10-minute creativity exercise every day.

Creativity exercises are another great way to stretch your imagination. The 10-minute exercise, The Journey of a Man and a Dog, is an example of how you can use creativity to expound on relationships we might see in our everyday lives.

You essentially create a story about any two people, animals or objects that you see together, whether it’s a man and his dog or a rich person and a homeless person.

3. Take up a creative hobby.

If thinking your way into increased creativity isn’t your speed, take up hobbies to improve your right-brain processing. Drawing, painting, woodworking, making crafts, playing music, dancing, and folding origami are a few examples of right-brain dominant activities.

You don’t have to be incredibly talented at a hobby to benefit from it. Performing these tasks keeps your right-brain active. The value is in the journey, and not in the destination.

The Right-Brain Deserves as Much Attention as the Left-Brain

Society places an emphasis on left-brained activities associated with knowledge and information, but right-brained pursuits remain on the periphery. Think about how much time you’ve spent training your left-brain since you were a child. Unless you also dedicated many hours of your day to creativity from a young age, there’s a chance that your right-brain competencies have not had the attention they need to reach their full potential.

Just like we never stop performing left-brain dominant tasks in our day to day lives, right-brain training is a continuous practice. The more you practice, the more you will improve.

Featured photo credit: Ad of the World via adsoftheworld.com

Reference

[1] History: Thomas Edison
[2] Goodreads: Stephen King Quotes

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