In an age where computers and well-trained workers from low-paid countries are taking over even white-collar jobs, what can you do to stand out? As we move out of the Information Age and into a new Conceptual Age, the answer is to start embracing the aptitudes associated with the right side of your brain, which were previously thought of as less valuable than analytical left-brain skills.
Ever since we discovered that the left side of the brain is responsible for more analytical tasks, it has been viewed as being of greater importance than the right side.
But where does this idea of the hemispheres being “separate but unequal” come from?
First of all, it was once thought that because the left hemisphere allows people to solve analytical
tasks, it must be the side that separates us from animals.
Second, we know that the left side of the brain actually controls the right side of the body, which is responsible for many important movements in a world where most people are right-handed and where Western language is written from left to right.
This difference in appreciation also manifests itself commonly when the two halves and their different modes of thinking are used as metaphors for different approaches to life:
Left-Directed Thinking is thought to draw on traits from the left hemisphere, meaning it is sequential, literal, functional, textual and analytic. These traits would then also dominate a Left-Directed thinker’s approach to life.
Right-Directed Thinking, on the other hand, would be characterized by being simultaneous, metaphorical, aesthetic, contextual, and synthetic – all traits of Right-Directed thinkers.
Much as the left side of the brain has been appreciated more than the right, Left-Directed Thinking has been viewed as the more successful approach to life. This can be seen on a societal level – for example, in the exams students must take in the United States. These exams reward linear, sequential thinking to arrive at a single correct answer in the time allotted, and thus teach students to reason like computers.
Today, however, the undervaluing of Right-Directed Thinking is slowly coming to an end, as the ability to see the “big picture” is growing in importance.
Historically, the importance of the right side of the brain and the way of thinking it represents has been undervalued.