This month I decided to talk about the marriage of creativity with logic. Many people seem to throw others into one of two categories. They are either “left brained people” or “right brained people”. These categories create limitations in people both by changing what others expect from them and what they expect from themselves. Almost nobody is missing a whole entire side of their brain and the fact that one side may be stronger than another does not mean that the other side is not working or can’t be improved. It also doesn’t mean that either side has one sole function that either succeeds or fails. I can’t see as well out of my left eye. This is good knowledge to have when getting fitted for glasses. It’s also good knowledge to have if I were to lose my glasses. But it doesn’t mean that I am blind in one eye or that I should shut it because it’s not quite as strong as the other. Eyes generally work better together. Similarly, I think that each side of the brain generally works better with its other half. Which side we pay more attention to should vary according to the situation at hand and our own personal brain setup (there are, of course, special situations with brains just like there are with eyes) but  normally why would we exclude one side or the other, one person or the other, based on which side is stronger? I was once on a first date with a man who explained to me that he wasn’t good at math because he was a graphic artist so he was a “right brainer”. I hadn’t implied in any way that I expected him to be good at math and in fact, hadn’t even mentioned the subject. He randomly brought it up as though he felt like he had to explain it away before it got brought up later. Ironically, he would have left a more favorable impression if he had felt comfortable being bad at math and left it at that. He had identified himself as someone who had decided not to try to do anything in the left brain realm. Similarly, there are lots of logical people who have decided that they are just not creative and so they don’t make any attempt to even try any creative pursuit.

I’m not suggesting that if we love painting and hate math or vice versa, that we should spend countless hours trying to learn what is especially challenging for us rather than improving the activity that we enjoy. I just think that whatever we decide to do, when we bring a little bit of one side to the other, it helps that endeavor to be more useful. For example, if we are using creativity to find a good solution to a problem, we may be able to think of ten different ideas for a solution. But we need logic to narrow them down and decide which one we are going to actually implement. Even when we are doing something like painting a picture, we can use logic. The artist may know what the idea is that they want to convey but if they don’t use logic to figure out how to get that idea across in a way that others can interpret, then that great idea gets lost as others scratch their heads trying to figure out the meaning of the picture. Conversely, if we use only logic to master a problem, we limit ourselves in the number of solutions we can consider. Creativity allows us to look at things from different angles and different approaches. It allows us to paint a more beautiful picture and appreciate beauty for its own sake. It allows us to step back and see how we could use some of our resources in ways that we never would have thought of without creative thought. It allows us to not have to give up so soon when logic doesn’t carry us far enough.

When we use these two together, we can often get good results. For example, when my kids were young, we had very little money. I saw that the clips used to fasten cereal bags, chip bags and the like were quite expensive. Logic  told me not to buy them. Additionally, logic told me to start using my creativity to think of a new solution to the problem. I thought about just rolling the bags up and scrunching them into a corner where they wouldn’t easily come unrolled. But then the logical side took over again and said realistically there are only so many corners you can scrunch them into and they will most likely come unrolled and this will always be irritating to do even if it does work. So back to the creative side. I then thought of the solution of using wooden clothespins. My logical brain then figured out that I could buy a bag of about 40 for the same price as the cost of 2 or three clips, they were easier to store and worked very well. It’s a simplified example but I think it illustrates in a simple way how our brain can work back and forth effectively if we don’t exclude one side or the other.

by Emeralde Rain