Happiness is in the Right Brain

The intuitive mind is a sacred gift. The rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift
– Albert Einstein

Brain hemispheresHappiness depends a lot on which side of the brain we use. If you feel under pressure, your brain is telling you that you have been using your left brain to its maximum capacity.

85% of the time, we function using our left brain. We make sense of things, think of sequences, analyze language and meaning, interpret information and communication and absorb new facts from all around us. Although these functions are necessary to our life, the left side of our brain has its limits and uses pressure to signal that we need to let go and switch to using our right brain.

The left hemisphere of our brain functions like a sequential receiver and processor, while the right hemisphere is in charge of our imagination, sleep (dreams), memory, intuition and all of our creative functions. We absorb with the left side and create with our right side. The brain is like battery – the right side charges it and the left side uses the energy and empties it. Our goal is always keep our mental battery charged.

In our fast-moving world with way too much information, our brain reaches this point of pressure very often. This is when the brain pushes the “red alert” button and says “Enough! No more information. No more analyzing. No more thinking and no more talking!” If we ignore this signal, the sounds of the red alert and danger increase until we collapse or fall asleep from exhaustion.

Brain hemispheresHave you noticed you get tired very quickly under pressure? Sleep is a very good way to turn the left hemisphere off, which is why meditation works so well to help us relax. When your mother says, as mine did, “Go to sleep. Things will be much better in the morning”, it is because she wants you to work with the brain, not against it.

The risk of not paying attention to the warning signs are that sometimes, we overload the left brain so much that hours of sleep cannot heal it and many normal functions of the brain get out of control. Anxiety is such warning sign. We have increased heartbeat and cold sweat. When we are under pressure, the body releases Adrenaline and Cortisol, making it harder for us to fall asleep or relax. When facing a stressful situation, these hormones block our thinking and prevent us from finding even simple solutions.

The best way to change the balance and turn off the warning signs is to use the right brain more. Fun things we enjoy and love doing can do this straight way. Laughing, dancing, listening to music, singing, doing art and playing with animals can make a huge shift in our level of pressure. If the things we do are easy and familiar, the shift is also very easy.

The use of the right brain releases endorphins, making us feel good. Endorphins are “feel good” chemicals that trigger fun, enjoyment, happiness and relaxation. These chemicals also fight illness very well, help us boost our immune system and handle pain better.

Happy people are healthier. When I learned that, I discovered that the best way to heal a sore throat was singing. I would put music in the car and sing out loud. While in the past, I’d had to take antibiotics for two weeks, singing only took two days.

Abstract painting

Think about the left brain as an office serving customers constantly. Every officer needs breaks to go to the toilet, have a drink and go home for a rest at the end of the day before starting the next day refreshed.

Our ability to sleep can tell us how well we balance the use of our. People who fall asleep easily, anywhere have mastered the shift from one hemisphere to another. Those who find it hard to sleep overuse their left brain and find it hard to stop thinking, analyzing and collecting information.

Woman DancingThe trick is to shift to the right brain straight away when you feel you are under pressure. If you hold on there for 2-5 minutes, the pressure will ease immediately.

Do you see the dancer turning clockwise or anti-clockwise?

Look at this spinning woman on the left. If you see her dancing clockwise, then you use more of the right side of the brain. If you see here dancing anti-clockwise, you use more of your left brain. Most of us would see the dancer turning anti-clockwise, because we use our left brain mostly. It is possible to shift the focus and change the direction, so try that.

Left brain and right brain difference

Left brain functions

  • Uses logic
  • Detail oriented
  • Focuses on facts
  • Focus on rule
  • Words and language
  • Present and past
  • Math and science
  • Can comprehend
  • Focus on knowledge
  • Acknowledges
  • Order/pattern perception
  • Knows object name
  • Reality based
  • Forms strategies
  • Practical
  • Safe

Right brain functions

  • Uses feeling
  • “Big picture” oriented
  • Focus on imagination
  • Focus on intuition
  • Symbols and images
  • Present and future
  • Philosophy & religion
  • Can “get it” (i.e. meaning)
  • Focus on believes
  • Appreciates
  • Spatial perception
  • Knows object function
  • Fantasy based
  • Presents possibilities
  • Spontaneous
  • Risk taking

People are different and use one side of the brain more than the other. Yet, we all have to be able use the right side of our brain in order to be happy. Remember, the left side is draining and we have to be able to charge the batteries well.

How to use your right brain

  1. Brain functionsEnjoy art – go to a gallery or a museum
  2. Watch movies – go to the cinema or watch a movie at home
  3. Have enjoyable sex – the more, the better
  4. Do sports – any sport that moves your body and makes you feel happy is good
  5. Be social – spend time interacting with friends and people you like
  6. Listen to music – play familiar music you like and music that suits your mood
  7. Have a pet – get attention, warmth and softness and give it too
  8. Take photos – it is so much easier now with digital cameras
  9. Sculpturing – you do not need much equipment or material to sculpt. Look up a recipe for salt dough and have a play
  10. Cook or bake – just enjoy it! Make a mess and be creative, then eat!
  11. Draw, paint and color in – with pen, pencil, watercolor, acrylic or oil paint (anything will do)
  12. Read for fun – if you read for enjoyment, you are on the right side. If you read because you have to and you have to make sense of what you read, that is working the left side again, so be careful! Use fun and enjoyment as a way to monitor which side you are using
  13. Imagine a happy future – this works like magic, as it shifts you straight away to the right brain and stimulates the “happy Chemicals” in your body
  14. Dance – every form of dance is good, even if you do not know how to dance
  15. Couple on the grassSing – the shower and your car are good places to sing without being too self-conscious. Or if you are in a better place emotionally, join a local choir or sing with the family
  16. Read poetry – make sure it is easy and fun. If it is too complicated and requires lots of analyzing and thinking, you are using your left brain
  17. Play board games – anything you consider a game shifts you to the right brain. Any game will do! Make sure it is fun. If it is not fun, it is not a game
  18. Play kids’ games – hide and seek, tag (tiggy), just use the kids as your excuse and join in the fun
  19. Party – parties are right brain celebrations, because they involve lots of fun, lots of games and lots of happy interactions with people
  20. Enjoy the outdoors – any walk on the beach, any hiking trip, any stroll in the park that is done for fun charges your batteries, not to mention it is good for your health
  21. Travel – see new places, meet new people, be active and experience new things that make you happy and excited
  22. Play with clay – just buy block of air drying clay and have fun with pottery
  23. Painting of a womanDo quilting – it is not the usage of the creation that counts but the time you spend being creative
  24. Sew – use your sawing machine (if you have one) or just needle and thread to create something
  25. Use you left hand – the motor function of the left hand is on the right side of the brain, so brush your teeth, write, pick up things and play ball with your left
  26. For the fun of it, stand on your left leg for 2 minutes and try to stretch it for longer
  27. Do Origami – try more and more complicated creations. Make sure the fun is still there. If you are frustrated, you are not in the right brain anymore
  28. Learn to make 3D shapes – draw big letters, objects, buildings and other shapes and turn them to 3D. It will stimulate your visual perception, which is on the right side of your brain
  29. Play with sand – on the beach or on the table. Use it as a cheap sculpting material by adding a bit of water to it
  30. Do jigsaw puzzles
  31. Build things from wood – carpentry is creative and fun
  32. Play Sudoku – although many people think it requires thinking, it mostly uses our visual perception of shifting the visual focus from right to left and top to bottom using the right hand side of our brain
  33. Right brain vs. Left brainChange your routine – everything you do differently triggers the use of the right brain. Change a habit, shower in the dark, change the time you wake up, change the direction of your bed or rearrange the living room
  34. Listen to classical music 10 minutes a day – this will boost your creative juices and help you stimulate the right hand side of your brain
  35. Use mind maps – giving a visual presentation to a problem is half the way to solving it

Gal and I saw the video below on TED a few years ago and were extremely impressed with the way the presenter explained the way the two sides of the brain work. I hope you will be inspired to use your right brain more often after watching this, much like we were.

Although we have a natural tendency to use one side of our brain, it is important for us to be able to use the other one, mainly the right hemisphere. When we talk about stimulating the right brain to help us relax and think clearly, enjoying art, creating art and having fun are the keys to managing stress and allowing more happiness to enter our life.

Be Happy! Everyone can do it using the right side of the brain, and practice makes perfect (oops, that was left-brain reasoning…).