Unlock the creative brain – try being a southpaw

A few weeks ago, I wrote about a study I found intriguing with some interesting findings around the brain and its function with creativity. I decided to try an experiment to unlock my creative brain.

Your brain has 2 hemispheres, left and right.  Your left hemisphere functions  with things such as logic, practicalities, reason etc. and the right is where our more creative impulses lie; creativity, imagination, dreaming, artistic leanings.  In normal day to day life we tend to use our left hemisphere most of the time and the right remains somewhat under-used (unless you are an artist of some sort or lucky enough to be left handed). Are we denying our creative brain?

Our right hand communicates towards out left hemisphere and our left hand towards our right.  The study suggested that encouraging more use of our left hand would ignite more synaptic pathways into our right hemisphere and lead to more creative thinking – which we could all do with in this day and age.

Experiment for the creative brain

I decided to give it a try by practising writing left handed, every day, for 10 minutes at a stretch for a month. My very unscientific experiment found some surprising outcomes.

I believe it did indeed unleash more creative thinking for me.  I found that, whereas I might have had to stop and think about one problem or one thing at a time the ideas started to flow with ease.  In fact they started to flow so fast and often I had a hard job keeping track.  It was like a grasshopper on speed!

Others noticed it too.  I didn’t realise at first that when I was speaking to someone, I would be verbalising ideas, thoughts, solutions as fast as they were popping into my head. They would sometimes spiral from immediately obtainable to possibilities and then eventually away into fantasy that would need a few more inventions to make reality. Those listening to me found it difficult to keep up with me and my thought-flows.

Warning, the creative brain can need controlling

I have had to make a concerted effort to rein it in.  To consciously re-introduce my left brain thinking so I can explain my ideas slowly and deliberately to those around me so they can grasp each portion before we move on to the next.  I’ve also lessened the amount of time I spend cultivating my left-handed writing to calm my excited thought processes. My creative brain needed a little more discipline.

I would therefore surmise that there is some truth in the study’s findings I read.  If not injecting you with some sudden creativity chemical I would speculate it at least breaks down blockages and opens avenues in your brain that have been under-utilised before.

Don’t just take my word for it – give it a go for yourself, after all who couldn’t do with more creative thought processes in this day and age? Try unlocking your own creative brain by writing left handed, 10 minutes per day.


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Innovative thinking – do you sometimes have whacky ideas?

innovative thinking

I don’t know about any of you, but I quite often walk around feeling slightly out of step with everyone else.  It’s not an unpleasant experience, I am just aware that, when it comes to thinking processes, the way I view the world and the ideas that come to me are not your average thoughts. But how did this happen? Is innovative thinking learned, a result of circumstance or does it start at an early age?

innovative thinking differentlyInnovative thinking because of circumstance

Yes, part of the reason is probably down to being knocked way out of my comfort zone and normal life by the train crash however there is much more to it than just that.  As those of you who read my bi-monthly newsletter will know (you can sign up here if you’re not already) my interests are wide and varied but tend toward the new, innovative and sometimes downright whacky.  I am a great believer in ‘no idea is a bad idea’ as it all acts as fodder for my own thought processes and initiatives.

As a child my dream was to be an inventor. How I then ended up in Financial Services was down to practicalities and conditioning back then.  However, before having to put my dreams aside I had visions of growing up, tinkering away in a wooden shed with gizmos, gadgets, soldering irons and bits of wire.  Professor Branestawm was favourite reading material. I felt drawn to others who showed an innovative thinking approach whether they be eccentric or not.

Though the realities of life then asserted themselves and I abandoned my childlike dream I don’t think the way my brain was then hardwired ever did.

Innovative thinking means looking at the world from different angles

Even today (much to my family’s annoyance) I wander around spotting inconveniences, omissions, problems and then ponder on and ultimately share my far-fetched solutions with them. Time travel, transportation, space, black holes, dark matter, string theory, contortion and any other bizarre ideas all factor into my solutions.  I let my imagination run riot until one of the family starts looking at me as if I ought to be committed.

I reckon one of the benefits of allowing my mind free rein like this with every day, trivial and mundane articles is it automatically kicks in when I am faced with a work challenge, problem or situation.  I may secretly go into extremely weird thought paths however 99% of the time a flash of ‘inspiration’ or a glimmer of a plausible solution shows up which I can then pull logical and cohesive steps from to obtain the end outcome that was desired.  My capacity for innovative thinking allows me to see a variety of alternative solutions.

How great would it be if everyone was given a bit of time to indulge this sort of creativity?  I am pretty sure that an awful lot of stumbling blocks for companies would be overcome.  In this fast changing and paced world wouldn’t it pay to be more ‘out there’ with our thinking? I’d love to run workshops doing just this – and perhaps I will. I do believe that innovative thinking can be learned if you trust your imagination.

As for my theoretical inventions I doubt any one of them is likely to come to anything, but you never know….