May 16, 2010

Viva La Revolucion (Mark)

The Right Brain Revolution

The human brain has 2 hemispheres (right and left) which process the information coming in from the world around us quite differently. The Left Brain (or hemisphere) is logical, rational, analytical and focuses on details; whereas the Right Brain (hemisphere) is creative, intuitive, picks out patterns, deals with more emotional thinking and sees the bigger picture. The different processing approaches from the hemispheres give us a balanced picture. However, some of us are more Right Brain inclined than others and vice versa.

As we have evolved as a species, we have developed 3 brains: pre-frontal cortex thinking, rational), mammalian (emotions) and reptilian or limbic brain (all bodily functions, including “fight or flight mechanism”). The human brain is unique amongst animals (with one exception: dolphins) in that the size of the pre-frontal cortex (the thinking, rational, analysing part of our brain) is vastly bigger in ratio of size to the other 2 brains.

History has seen huge cultural swings over the centuries from Left Brain Dominance to Right Brain Dominance and back.  The Renaissance stands out in history as a Right Brain period. But clearly we have been in a Left Brain Dominance period of history for the last 2 centuries, since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution; the last 50 years however have been extremely Left Brain.

This period has brought huge rewards in terms of technological advance: the internet, satellites, mobile phones, desktop computers, just to name a few. However, these advances have also had calamitous consequences, which have made the world an increasingly insecure place: environmental destruction and climate change, as well as relatively small and unstable countries gaining sufficient nuclear weapon capability to destroy the world. It is possible that both of these could totally destroy our way of life and indeed the very planet, within the next 50 years.

Just as bad is the effect this Left Brain dominance has had on society and culture. We are now bombarded with exponentially increasing amounts of information every day: we get more information now in 1 day than our grandparents got in 1 year! In fact, scientists now reckon than the increase in speed of information growth is now outpacing the brain’s ability to cope with the increase!

The technological advances have enabled us to increase our wealth dramatically in this period: indeed we are now 30% wealthier than we were 10 years ago. However, “we” is not the global population: another catastrophic consequence of the technical advances in the West is the massive poverty gap: 1.7 billion people are in absolute poverty, earning less than $1 per day.

Finally, we in the West have not escaped completely unscathed: the increase in the incidence of mental health issues (depression, stress, anxiety, Eating Disorders) has roughly matched the increase in wealth. So the wealthier we’ve got, the more depressed we’ve got! In addition, we have far higher levels of crime than we did 50 years ago.

So we’re actually in a bit of a mess! And if you look at the Western lifestyle, it’s not surprising.

We are clearly Left Brain dominated; everybody’s analysing like mad…constant Mind Chatter. The Left Brain has to measure everything: science requires empirical proof…or it doesn’t exist or doesn’t work! How do we measure success in our lives?

The answer is money, trappings and stuff! We must have the big house, shinier car, newest technology TV etc. Our whole lives are driven by the need to earn more money and to “consume”. We need celebrity looks, the latest fashion, the latest make-up to change us to what society says we should be; we’re walking away from being ourselves and walking into to stress, anxiety and unhappiness.

The pressure to be the best, to earn more money and be someone else means we can’t relax, can’t be creative, can’t run our relationships happily. We need a Right Brain Revolution.

If we can just be ourselves and be happy with who we are, then we can focus more on the things that matter to us: our relationships, our relaxation, our free time, our home. It’s that simple.

Viva La Revolución!

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