The human brain is the most complex organ which relentlessly keeps on evolving and producing ever better results. The human brain may apparently resemble the brain of few other animals, but due to its reasoning, creativity and analytical skills, it does wonders that the others aren’t capable of.
When you look around, you may find that some people are more critical, logical and analytical, while others may appear more creative, inventive, and taking interest in art and literature. Philosophers and neuroscientists believe that we, as humans, may either be predominantly left-brained, right-brained or a mix of both. Anatomically, our brain comprises three parts, namely: cerebrum, cerebellum and brainstem. Cerebrum is the largest part and is composed of the right and the left hemispheres. While the left part of our brain controls the right side of our body, it additionally helps in solving logical and mathematical tasks. On the other hand, the right hemisphere controls the left side of our body along with offering metaphysical meaning of life and its experiences.
Left or right brained?
There are many tests available on the internet to check whether one is more creative or more critical. The following two tests may help you know objectively whether you are left-brained, right-brained or a balanced mix.
a) Focus of the eye
Without closing any eye, hold any straight thing, like a pencil, scale or your finger, at your eye level and position it vertical against some straight object, like a door or a tree-trunk. Now close your left eye and see if the object moves left or right from its initial position. Repeat the same by closing your right eye.
Notice in which direction the object gives more displacement. If it moves farther towards left, you are a right-brained person and vice versa. But if the distance remains same, you are both.
b) Position of the hand
At different points in time in a day, stand while folding your arms in front of you. Notice whether your left hand is on the right or the opposite. If it is left hand over the right hand, you are predominantly right brained and if it is the right hand over the left, you are left-brained person.
This self-awareness, no matter how small it may contribute, may help you while opting career paths in life.
Most parents in our society have pre-framed career choices for their children. Seldom do parents and institutes offer liberty of action or allow insightfulness or platforms to individuals to see what they want for their future. In addition, there are few taboos that restrict certain jobs as gender-specific.
It is a fact that dream chasers, upon accomplishing their dreams, are happier than others. One of my friends (an engineer) says, “It is better to become a wonderful cobbler or a cook (if shoe-designs or preparing different recipes attract you) than to become a disinterested engineer.”
While in the former professions one is sure to contribute to society positively, in the later one may just linger on.
But even if no one reaches out to assist you, follow your intuition. See whether you are left-brained or right-brained and see what interests you the most. In the age of communication technology, searching subject combinations or institutes of your choice is no more an uphill task.
Our brain functions with the help of millions of electric impulses called neurons. Each time you observe a new thing or a phenomenon, your brain endeavours to relate it with already saved images, knowledge or structures. In this retrieval and connection-making process, neurons may develop new pathways to store newly-acquired knowledge.
Research proves that once a brain is stretched by any new idea or challenge, it never regains its previous dimensions. One positive outcome of accepting challenges is that it accelerates thinking which, in turn, helps stretch the brain beyond expectations.
Riddles, jigsaw puzzles, crossword, scrabbles, playing chess or any such activity that poses a challenge is a good exercise for the brain. While attempting math or accounting problems, never give up or seek guidance from key-books, etc. The more you cudgel your brain, the sharper it will become.
However, if certain apps contribute to smarter and more efficient thinking, screen hazards cannot be overlooked. Hence, striking a balance is recommended.
A healthy brain
A famous adage goes: “A healthy body keeps a healthy mind.” Unfortunately, fast food, mobile phones, social media, smaller play-areas in schools and colleges, among other things, all contribute to obesity and the lack of inspiration for physical workouts.
Physical exercise is matchless for our brain’s health. It not only provides fresh and more oxygenated blood to the brain, it relieves unnecessary stress. In this connection, aerobic-exercises or the exercises that include movement and coordination of eye and hands (like yoga and tie-chi, a form of Chinese martial art) are the best if spending hours in the football or cricket ground and wearing special attire, is not possible. Moreover, a place as small as your room, lawn, roof-top or porch may suffice for such exercises.
Sleep is essential
“Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise”, does hold true.
A student’s brain requires an average of seven to eight hours of peaceful sleep to stay healthy. The important thing to remember is to fix a time to go to bed and a time to get out of the bed, as variations may lead to restlessness.
For students, the amount of sleep they get must be a matter of extreme importance. Remember, if you work daily and never put off your work, you will never have to “burn the midnight oil” near the exams or do last-minute studies.
Increasing concentration span
Though there is no empirical evidence, a teenager has a concentration span of between 10 to 20 minutes. Various remedies to increase one’s concentration span include meditation, through which you may focus on your breaths. You may try to listen to various sounds while meditating in a park.
As the next step, you may try to associate these sounds to various birds or objects, etc. Another remedy is to free your study place from all distracting objects, pictures or gadgets
Yet another thing that may help you remain focused is to avoid multitasking, even though you might feel you can handle it. Focus on one task at a time and set small achievable targets. Another thing that may increase your concentration span is the habit of reading, a somewhat diminishing trend.
Any content that hooks you up is good to enhancing your concentration span. Reading from tabs or cellphones is not discouraged, but the potential hazards of screen and radiation should be kept in mind. Physical workouts also contribute to a healthier brain that in turn helps to increase concentration span.
Laugh out loud
There is a famous saying: “Laughter is the best medicine”. Psychologist Daniel Goleman notes in his book Emotional Intelligence, “Laughter seems to help people think more broadly and associate more freely.”
Prophet Muhamnmad’s (SAW) biography is replete with instances where he used pun and wit, and he used to stop near playing children because children are closer to nature and one becomes a part of them.
In order to offer a place to laughter in your life, you should crave to join company of such friends who crack joke and are funny. Watching funny clips or hilarious TV programmes may also contribute positively.
The human brain is not less than a miracle. And, as students, you must understand the benefits of accepting challenges. Without having much to do with age, the more you use it, the more it grows, irrespective of being left- or right-brained. With proper exercises, rest and meditation, your brain may continue to help you thrive whichever field you join.
Published in Dawn, Young World, March 2nd, 2019