Sometimes in life we are going too fast. We don’t know how to slow down and take a breather. It is like we are trying desperately to be one step ahead of everyone. What we don’t understand is that they are trying the same thing. We go at 100 miles an hour and yet, we are followed by others. The race to succeed never really goes away. You know that wonderful retirement stage where you envision yourself sitting on a rocking chair drinking a tall glass of iced tea looking at the scenery around you from the porch of your house while your great grand children play in the backyard? Well, let’s just say that will never happen.
When a car spins out of control a bystander can often tell how the car might spin but when a person spins out of control, you can never tell anything until the shit hitting the fan has finally had the chance to settle down on some part of the room.
This is what happened to me. No, I didn’t meet with an accident. But, I caught the flu. I was careless enough to play in a river all day long and uninhibitedly walked around in wet clothes. Add to that, a sick friend who exposed me to a possible influenza virus and I am a very sick man. Being sick and having someone fuss around you leaves two things for you to do: Sleep and think. I did the most rational thing a person can do. I slept for 24 hours in 2 days. Rest of the time, I thought about how difficult it must be for people who are invalid for the rest of their lives to deal with it and this brought to my mind a TED talk that I watched way back about a woman who suffered a stroke. Her name is Jill Bolte Taylor. She is quite famous for her book – My Stroke of Insight. She was also on The Oprah Winfrey Show to promote her book.
If you haven’t listened to her TED talks or read her book, this is what she went through.
Jill Taylor was a neuroscientist who worked on schizophrenia (a kind of mental disorder – more on this later, I promise you). In 1996, a blood vessel in her brain exploded in the left half of her brain. It is important to understand that the left hemisphere is an integral part of everyday life. In fact, it is the dominant of the two hemispheres and is responsible for things such as walking, talking, reading, writing, recalling etc. Basically, without the left part of your brain, you will be an infant. That is not a nice thing, I assure you. Diapers and drool all day long!
So, why bring up Jill Taylor and her stroke. I wanted to talk to you about an exciting thing inside your brain. Wait! Make that two exciting things: The left and the right hemispheres. Before you get disappointed, let me assure you, this is one of the best things nature has created. Can you believe that the two parts of our brain process differently? They think about different things, care about different things and in fact come up with different solutions for a single problem. The two parts are connected in the middle through the corpus callosum and this is a medium for connection and contact with each other.
Jill Taylor thinks that the two parts of the brain have different personalities.
Let me give you a few things that the right and left hemispheres do. Our right hemisphere thinks in pictures. It understands different the situation kinaesthetically (smell, feel, hear) and makes a mosaic picture on where we are standing, what we are doing etc. In fact, it is concerned about the present. The “this moment” of my life is what right part understands and cares for.
On the other hand, the left side of the brain is more logical. It is linear in its thinking. It recalls the past, thinks about the future keeping the present mosaic that the right builds up as a base for its thought process. It is detail oriented (sounds like something you find on a CV. Next time you can write, my left part of the brain is my real boss. So, I am more interested in details, futures and not repeating past mistakes). More importantly, our left hemisphere contains the memory for words and language. So, it thinks in language and words (Again, a CV pointer. Are you noting it down somewhere?).
“Did you watch what she said? OMG” did a small voice inside your brain tell you this when you listened to someone on the TV or on the road? That small voice is a weapon created by the left part of the brain not only to give you sane advice but also to make your life miserable with guilt. But, it is also a distinguishing feature. Do you remember the day you recognized that small voice in your mind as yours? No? Because, it has been there always and it is responsible for your self – identification. “I am not like that. I am a better person than that. I am the way I am” all things that can be found on slogan T – shirts as well as the things that the left brain instils in you.
So, the next time you find yourself in a situation where you have that “Aha – moment” think about this: We are not just minions of the world who have opposing thumbs (dexterity, if you will), capacity to stand on two legs (Bipedal) and can feed ourselves. We are the ultimate creatures that nature created. We may not be the fastest or strongest or even the loudest but we are definitely the smartest. Case in point, we don’t have one but two cognitive minds. Power to choose our identity and lead our lives. Think about it: use both parts of the brain this time.