Right vs. Left-Brain: What a Neuroscientist Might Say About Your Sabbatical

Are you right-brained or left-brained?

We all have wondered where we belong on that spectrum since school. Scientific experiments on the human brain in the 1950s and the “split-brain operations” in the 60s and 70s popularized that the left region of the brain is the analytical, mathematical, detail-oriented side whereas the right region is the holistic, pattern-based, contextual side that is often considered the “creative” side of the brain. Scientists have since argued that a balanced life is one where both hemispheres are utilized, challenged, and given the resources to flourish.

The Information Age that we are currently living in is based primarily on “left-brain” output, for example, the rapidly growing technology sector, the globalization of the world economy, and the automation of so many of our daily tasks. Yet, Daniel H. Pink argues in his book A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future, that the future belongs to those who embrace their right hemisphere: their innate creative, storytelling drive and their “big picture”, interconnecting, un-fixed, and evolving capacity.

The trajectory of human flourishing has tipped the scales over history to honor and value more left-brain ways of thinking (there would be no electricity, airplanes, or democracy without it!) but to what end? What about creating something for the sake of creating something, whether it be a story, a song, a painting or a beautiful moment of human connection, that wasn’t there before? Pink argues that in our current world state, individuals are more likely to succeed if they incorporate design, story, symphony, empathy, play, and meaning into their work and into their lives. Part of what it means to be a human is a desire for purpose, meaning, and value-based fulfillment. Is this something that you feel like is missing in your own life? You are not alone.

At Unsettled, we don’t profess to have a brain bias, but we are a community of creatives who seek the space and time to be curious and creative. We like to give our “right-brain” permission to think more broadly, experiment, follow our intuition, and explore. This is what we like to think we do on an Unsettled retreat. We provide a coworking space to continue to be productive — using that left-brain for many of us — but the time and space to explore our destinations engages and helps that right-brain grow. And this right-brain stimulation may equip you with exactly what you need to rule the future.

Interested in learning more about the left-brain-right-brain dichotomy? Check out psychiatrist Iain McGilchrist’s awesome animated Ted Talk.

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