Tuning your brain with a new skill

Learning a new skill is always beneficial. It boosts your capabilities and confidence, and gives you something meaningful to focus your attention on. But learning new skills requires time, money and effort. How do you choose one that will be best worth your investment? Interest plays an important role, but wouldn’t it be better if you could learn a new skill that not only interests you, but aids in your overall personal development in the long run?

Have you heard of the phrases “right-brain thinker” or “left-brain thinker”? If you frequently surf the internet or go on social networking websites, you might have seen various online quizzes that promise to figure out whether you are left-brain dominant or right-brain dominant.

According to the Left Brain – Right Brain theory, each hemisphere of our brain controls different types of thinking, and we tend to favour one type of thinking over the other. If your right brain is more dominant, you tend to think more creatively and subjectively, and you may rely on intuition rather often. Creative, artistic and musically-inclined people are often said to have a more dominant right brain. Right brain dominance is usually associated with abilities in music, emotions, colour and images, and intuition.

If your left brain is more dominant, you tend to be more analytical, and go with logic and solid hard facts, dismissing intuition and hearsay. Left brain dominance is usually associated with abilities in numbers, critical thinking and language. Thanks to stronger emphasis on Maths, Science and the written word in school, many Singaporeans have likely become predominantly dependent on our left brain.

Both sets of thoughts are equally important. With a cognitively-balanced brain, you will perceive ideas with a more open mind, and you will be able to achieve much more with the adept combination of creativity and logic. You will be able to cope with a more mentally demanding lifestyle if both hemispheres of your brain are highly capable.

It is never too late to further develop your brain! First of all, identify which side of your brain gets more exercise. There is an online test on http://web-us.com/brain/braindominance.htm that tells you which hemisphere you are inclined to rely on, based on your thoughts and habits. To attain a more accurate and detailed assessment however, you may need to seek professional services from a psychologist.

Skills to pick your left brain:

Public speaking / debating
Intellectual games i.e. puzzles, Sudoku
Foreign languages

Skills to pick your right brain:

Playing music
Sports and activities requiring vigorous movement
Pottery / Sculpture

Courses for the above are available at various community clubs for affordable fees.

Practice makes perfect, so keep doing things that you are less adept at, and you will eventually do well in it. If you make the effort, you may soon find yourself capable of achievements that you never realized you could be yours!

– This article first appeared in a lifestyle magazine