How to Give the Left Side of Your Brain a Break

When you looked in the mirror this morning did you notice the left side of your head was grossly larger than the right? It’s a common malady for leaders that follows years and years of over-engaging the logical, objective, efficient side of our brain. Of course I’m joking, but only about the size. The truth is we typically elevate left-side thinking and devalue right-side thinking, creating fatigue and imbalance in our life as leaders. Engaging the right-side of your brain will yield unmistakable refreshment and reinvigoration for your leadership and your soul.

I’ve been journaling since my teens, filling dozens of spiral-bound notebooks with musings and prayers. In my twenties, I switched to computer journaling for a few decades – thrilled with its left-brained speed and efficiency. But God, ever good at nudging us out of ruts, eventually relocated me to a comfortable chair in my family room where pen-in-hand journaling became the norm. More recently, He’s slowed me down even more, adding creativity to my journaling. I initially balked at the concept, but it’s become a relaxing, enjoyable way of experiencing God and expressing myself to Him.

Here’s the deal – each time I switch to a new journal, I set aside time to collage the front cover.

Hold onto your hats, guys! Whether you journal or not, you’ll benefit from trying this simple way of using the right side of your brain and giving the left side a much-needed break.

An Easy Way to Engage the Right Side of Your Brain

1) Slow down and breathe. The first internal pushback you’ll feel will go something like this, “I don’t have time to do something so frivolous and purposeless.” I felt the same way initially. But I urge you to give it a try so you can experience its benefits.

2) No pressure to be Picasso. Your second resistant thought will be, “I’m not creative. Never was. Never will be. Don’t really want to be, either!” Trust me, a kindergartner could do this, and you can too. You may be surprised at the latent artist in you.  

3) Choose your end-product. Do you want to collage a journal cover, create a bookmark, or design a small poster for your office? Pick something you’ll use or look at frequently.

4) Gather your tools. You’ll need a few old magazines, a scissors, a glue stick, a sheet of laminating paper, and a small notebook or card stock. This may require a trip to an office supply store, but it shouldn’t cost you more than $10.

5) Engage with God. As you spread out everything in front of you, ask God to join you in the process and lead you to certain images and words. Or simply choose what you’re drawn to because it’s meaningful to you personally or spiritually.

6) Page through the magazines. Leisurely look over each page, perusing the graphics and phrases and clipping ones you like. You don’t have to have a theme in mind; just enjoy the process.

7) Select your favorites. When you’ve gotten enough to cover your item (journal, bookmark, or poster), see if a theme emerges – whether in content or color. Select those cut-outs and attach them to the surface with the glue stick. You can arrange them in advance and play around with a layout, or let it take shape as you go.

8) Seal it in place. Before peeling the backing from the laminating paper, cut it an inch or so larger than your project. Then remove the backing and carefully lay it on top, folding the excess onto the back. If you get air bubbles, press them out with a credit card.

9) Voila! In a few long, wonderful moments, you’ve created a one-of-a-kind expression of something meaningful to you. And you’ve hung out with God. And you’ve relaxed. And the left-side of your brain took a break. And you can breathe more freely. And you have a beautiful reminder of time well spent.

God created a world that’s both functional and beautiful. (Hmmm… He demonstrates both left-brained and right-brained thinking.) Following each day’s work of creation, God rested and enjoyed what He made – declaring it good.

As leaders made in the image of God, we were designed to use both sides of our brains. Let’s be concrete and strategic and goal-oriented. And let’s also be subjective and playful and creative.

God took time to rest, to reflect, and to enjoy. Let’s do the same.

“Our Creator God took time to rest, to reflect, and to enjoy. Let’s be like Him and do the same.”

- Lisa Hosler

How do you give the left side of your brain a break? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section below.

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