Can you draw?

Your answer to that question reveals a surprising
amount about your brain and the way you integrate
your right and left hemispheres. (In this article, the
left side will be referred to as the dominant one, which
is by far the most likely scenario.)

You see, the left side of the brain excels at verbal,
analytical, rational and logical tasks. It's the dominant
half. It takes over most of the time, using words to
describe and define, figuring things out step by step,
drawing conclusions based on facts and logic, and
thinking in a linear way. The left side of the brain jumps
right in with words and symbols, and is such a bully
that it takes on even those tasks it isn't likely to
perform well.

Now, the right side of the brain is completely different.
It relies on nonverbal cues to process perceptions. It's
good at tasks requiring the ability to see similarities,
to understand how parts fit together as a whole, to make leaps of insight (those a-ha moments), and to perceive overall patterns at once. It tends to hang back a little, letting the left side take over most duties.

It's sort of like siblings. You've got a confident, verbal
first child and a quiet, introspective, thoughtful second
child. Who do you think wins the argument for that
last dessert? Who chooses which television show to
watch? Who dominates the conversation about where
to go on a family vacation? The second child might
have a valuable perspective, but the older one is so
assertive that he tends to win most arguments and rule
the roost.

If your answer to the drawing question is "No, I'm
pathetic," it's likely your left brain is being a bit of a
thug. Whenever you pick up a pencil and start to
sketch, it's taking over with its tendency to verbalize
images and analyze shapes. Meanwhile, the right side--
the perceptual, spatial part of your brain--is over in the
corner, raising its hand, trying to get attention. "Oh,
pick me!" it says. Too bad that the left side is already
busy drawing lines and forming a strategy.

What if you could outsmart the bully on the left? What
if you could somehow give that right side of your brain
its chance to shine?

According to Dr. Betty Edwards, a respected art
educator and author of the best-selling book, Drawing
On The Right Side Of The Brain, you can actually make
a mental shift from what she refers to as the "L-
mode"--the verbal, dominant form of thinking--to
the "R-mode," which relies on visual cues. It's possible
to get the right side to kick in and take over the task
of drawing.

How? Well, we need to get tricky.

The left side takes over tasks UNLESS it finds a
particular job undesirable. If a certain task takes too
much time, is too detailed or slow or simply too difficult,
then the left side gives up. So, the trick is presenting
the task--in this case, drawing--in such a way that the
right side is allowed to jump in.

This happens a lot with words. When we try to
describe something verbally and find it too difficult,
what do we do? We rely on gestures. Just try to
describe a spiral staircase without using your hands.

Dr. Edwards teaches people to draw by presenting
them with images that are upside down. This puts the
left brain in a state of confusion so that it can't easily
decipher shapes, assign a top and bottom, attach
labels and categorize them to match stored

The key to integrating your right side lies in looking for
opportunities to allow it to become dominant. When
presented with a confusing image, your left side gives
up. We should literally turn things upside down in an
effort to thwart the left brain's control and let the R-
mode take over.

This same idea works in creative problem solving.
Sometimes the best way to deal with a challenging
issue is to sleep on it. When the left brain is
exhausted, the intuitive, subjective, holistic right side
has a chance to sneak in and come up with a solution
that seems to have come "from nowhere". See? We
don't even give our right brains credit for creative

It's exciting to think that there are ways to outsmart
our brains. By intentionally putting ourselves in a state
of mental conflict, we can enhance our creativity.

Look for ways to plunge yourself into that discomfort
zone. Whether we're tackling a picture or a problem,
the key to jumpstarting our right brain lies in shifting
our perspective.

Grab a pencil, turn the picture upside down, and start
drawing! Somewhere inside you, that frustrated artist
will be grinning from ear to ear.

Author's Bio: 

Maya Talisman Frost is a mind masseuse. Her work has inspired thinkers in over 70 countries. She serves up a unique blend of clarity, comfort and comic relief in her free weekly ezine, the Friday Mind Massage. To subscribe, visit