So, this right-left brain stuff popped into my head the other day as I was singing in the shower – for no particular reason. I knew nothing, and still do not know anything about this “discredited ‘left-right-brain’ imagery from the 1980s. [which has been debunked by modern brain science ] however [I hear] it’s a useful shorthand for weak thinkers, [and] so it lives on.” (Stole this line from blogger Tom Cox here)
Ok. So, as I was trolling the Internet this evening, I stumbled upon a couple of things that caught my attention. One is the fact that some other blogger has started a blog with a disturbingly similar name as ours and so I have to now think about Trademark Infringement lawsuits and paying lawyers which just gives me a huge headache I just want to scream. The other was this compelling piece done by this guy named Daniel Pink at Wharton’s Evolution of Learning Symposium this past summer.You can find a summary of the article here. It’s called, The Pink Prescription: Facing Tomorrow’s Challenges Calls for Right-brain Thinking….
Ok. So this guy, Pink, got me to thinking about this whole right-brain/left brain thing in the context of divorce all over again, and being that I had the post in draft already, it seemed a good time to pull it out and try to write this thing.
I think that right brain thinkers, if such individuals exist, are much better at marriage than left brain thinkers. Well, it’s probably more sophisticated to posit that all couples need more right brain thinking in their marriages in order to avoid divorce.
Well, first of all, what is this thing about right/left brain? What are the differences in personality and approach to life? According to Pink, right brainers are more skilled at stuff like:
design, storytelling, synthesis, empathy and pattern recognition…
They “innovate, communicate, thrive in a multicultural environment and work with a sense of passion” They are skilled at:
….Artistry, empathy, inventiveness, big-picture thinking…
And according to Pink, left brainers have more:
logical, linear, sequential, analytical, spreadsheet, SAT, zero-in-on-the-right-answer abilities
Ok. So what does that tell you about these types of personalities and how they would fare in marriage? I am always for the ying and yang and so at first blush, I might have said that a right brain person should marry a left brain person to avoid divorce. But when I really thought about it on a deeper level, I think that could very well be a recipe for divorce – these two conflicting personality types. They would tire of each other and have serious communication problems. A “linear” thinker is not going to understand the impulses and “passions” of an intuitive, “storytelling” “artist” type. They would think a lot of what this person is about is mumbojumbo and outright lies and quackery. For the linear thinker, it seems to me that such a person sees things in black or white, no shades of grey. They don’t want stories. And bygod, they don’t want lies – white or otherwise. They want facts. Or what they believe to be facts. They want the truth, even though, someone like this may be rather skilled at constructing their own brand of “truth” almost to graphical precision even though all the data they use is bogus. Then he or she will pull out the powerpoint and confuse the bejesus out of their spouse, leaving the spouse nodding in agreement not because they really agree, but who can really communicate with a linear arguer who uses metrics and modalities like black/white pie charts just so they can “baffle you with the bullshit?” they sit and conjure? (sort of what I’m trying to do this this article, eh? 🙂 )
Well, the right brainer on the other hand, feels isolated and lost with a person like this. The right brainer sees those shades of grey. They see other colors too. After all, this person is a “global thinker,” a “big picture thinker” an “empathizer” an “artist.” They are able to improvise, change, shift gears, try something new and different if the old and tried is no longer working in the relationship. They won’t necessarily focus on small or even large problems in the marriage. They focus on the big picture of the marriage and so they are more willing to try new ways of communicating and new ways of interacting to save the marriage. He or she may find a left brain person cold, calculated and insensitive, overly-analytical and manipulative, and despotic. This can’t lead to the happiest of unions, I’m thinking….
Pink says “”Routine is a death sentence for the economy today” and I would venture to say that routine is also a death sentence for marriages today.
Pink classified as routine any “work that can be reduced to a script, to a spreadsheet, to a formula, to a series of steps that has a right answer. If you can write down the steps and it has a right answer, that kind of work isn’t valuable. That kind of work just races to wherever it can get done the cheapest.”
Wow. There goes all my notions about the roles of men and women in relationships and marriage, of the man being the head of the family, of being the main breadwinner, of being strong, more stoic and all the rest of my pipe dreams! Those old-fashioned notions are “routines” that are totally obsolete today and arguably, people who cater to these modalities will find themselves in unhappy marriages…although, wait. Let me think this through a bit more. It is true that in our parents generation, marriages were pretty routine and they were lasting a life time and men and women played traditional roles in their relationships. Whereas, today, there is nothing routine about marriage and relationships and most people can’t survive 5 years with the same spouse. Hme…perhaps I am wrong to suggest that “routine” is a death sentence for marriages today. It is not routine that is killing marriage. It’s more like a lack of routine that is killing marriage, I’m thinking….
It is obviously not an exact science. One cannot totally compare marriage/divorce to the economy. But there are bits of information, certain little gems that one can use I would think.
In his article, Pink is concerned that schools are not keeping up with the shift from left brain to right brain thinking and he seems to think the next generation of workers will suffer as a result. He says, “It’s possible that schools need to develop new metrics and methodologies to bring more right-brain learning into the classroom.” I wonder whether marriage counselors and therapists are “developing new metrics and methodologies to bring more right brain” strategies into marriage counseling?
ART FOR FOLKS ON THE VERGE OF DIVORCE
One of the conclusions Pink reaches is that there is a need for more observation in general – a skill that is necessarily right brained. He speaks of Yale and Harvard Medical schools and how they take doctors to art classes to learn to be not only more “empathetic” but also more “observant” of their patients. Says Pink: “Doctors have to be able to ask the right questions. That calls for extraordinary observation skills — the observation skills of a painter, of a sculptor”
Hme….maybe that would help couples avoid divorce too. It’s about “observing” before it’s too late, that something is wrong in your marriage and taking the steps, using such skills as “empathy” “pattern recognition” and “big picture thinking” to stop problems and conflicts in a marriage and relationship from mushrooming into big deal breaking ones which can only end in divorce….Tiger? Elin?
Well, ok. That’s it for Ms. Shrink. Now I need to put on my lawyer hat and figure out what to do about those bad actors who are infringing on my intellectual property and trademarks. But you get the gist of what I’m saying, right? Marriages need more right -brain thinkers in order to avoid divorce.