using my inside voice

Is Organisation Hard-wired?

Lifestyle & Culture | April 14, 2009

After watching a recent TED video about the left and right brain, presented by Jill Bolte Taylor, a stroke victim and brain scientist, I got to thinking about my own brain and my incredible compulsion to organise.

I'm an organiser from way back, and I've always regarded it as an relatively helpful tool. But, with an impending 8-month trip through America, Cuba, Mexico, Central America and South America, my organising tendencies have gone into overdrive and it made me start to wonder whether this compulsion has become a help or a hindrance.

I've been booking hostels, bus trips, flights, looking at maps, canceling bookings and re-booking at cheaper places, and just generally going nuts with organisation.

What interested me (apart from Jill's personal and mind-blowing story) was that the right side of the brain is all about you in the here and now, and your connection with all things around you. Whereas, the left side focuses on analyzing, organising and categorising.

It got me thinking - is my brain hard-wired to use more of its left side than its right? Is it beyond my control that I'm going to be organising things to the nth degree? Or, can I change the way my brain works and utilise more of the right side, to be more relaxed, more in tune with what's going on right now, rather than thinking 10 steps into the future and cataloging what will happen in each of them?

One part of the presentation sees Jill describing the euphoric state she entered when the left side of her brain stopped functioning - nirvana. It came as somewhat of a surprise that she would use the word that Buddha coined to describe the ultimate state of peace in the mind. To quote Wikipedia, "The subject is at peace with the world, has compassion for all and gives up obsessions and fixations".

Then, I stopped and thought about it. What is the one thing that keeps me awake at nights when I can't sleep? It's something to do with organisation at work/home/play. What stresses me out? Generally something to do with organisation at work/home/play. What is really the only thing in my life that ever worries me at all? It's always something to do with organisation at work/home/play.

So, it started to make sense that if you could shut off the left side of your brain, you probably would be in a state of nirvana. Not only would you stop organising completely, you would also be at one with everything around you, totally in the moment, and categorically connected with the here and now.

Then, I thought one step further, about meditation and reaching enlightenment. To me, this also sounds very similar to the feeling described by Jill in the video. So, is meditation simply a shutting down of the left side of your brain? If so, should I be learning to curb my left-brain tendencies?

I'm not saying I'm going to give up organising things (as an IT Business Analyst it would not be inadvisable) but should I try to learn when it's appropriate and when it's not, and let go of organisation when it's beyond my control? I would certainly say that could be a wise move, and a step towards more consistent contentment in life.

Making this step a reality is another thing, and I'm not entirely sure where to start... any suggestions?

Any Comments?

About Bay Oliver

Bay's career has been many and varied due to a penchant for traveling the world. After completing a double degree in Business Management and Journalism at the University of Queensland in 2002 she was lucky enough to land herself a job at Brisbane's Quest Community Newspapers. A year of roving reporting brought the epiphany that journalism and Bay didn't jive.
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