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Left, Right, and Center: It’s All In Your Head

With the enormous amount of political noise assaulting us on a now daily basis, I decided to take a quiet moment, sit down, and think about thinking.

Mostly I’ve been thinking about division. Much has been made about the debunking the theory on brain’s left and right sides, a theory we based our book Brainwalker on. We don’t disagree with the science—as authors, we just see the value of that theory as a metaphor for a bigger picture.

While it is true that we may not have a left brain or right brain governing our actions, we do have what’s known as personality types. Each person has their own preferred mode of thinking and behaving. Carl Jung described them as “rational” (thinking and judging) and “irrational” (sensation and intuition). Some are more comfortable with ideas, others in the realm of experience. Some prefer proof and some prefer dreams. Some prefer poring over details while others jump in and take action. And when stressed or angered, some start making plans, others start making demands.

We fall back on these personality preference as our “default” and to an extent it defines our lives. When confronted by incredibly stressful situations—like school, work, or the loss of a loved one, our current political divide—we turn to these preferences instinctively.

Perhaps this explains why we are unable to convince die-hard fanatics of one side or the other—when confronted, we too easily return to form and bunker down. I find this division easy to see in the current political climate, where citizens are deeply split along political lines.

But given that our personality preferences are choices, we aren’t behold to them. Our minds are malleable. They can and do change over time: when we enter new environments, take on new roles, and form new relationships with people.

Brainwalker is an attempt to show that our divisions exist mostly in our minds. Whether you prefer rational thought or exciting experiences, you still have only one mind. And whether you are on one side or the other of the political spectrum, it’s still one nation—the only one we got at that.

If would wanted to, we can open doors and improve relations with other people by understanding their personalities—including their mode of thinking and their preferred style of communication—instead of simply imposing our own.

It takes effort, yes. But I say our lives will certainly become richer for it.

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