Before I completed my undergraduate studies at Clemson University, I met the wife of one of my professors, who ran a design studio. After seeing the great work they were doing, I decided to ask her for a job. "We don't have any jobs available," she said. That didn't stop me though.
After weeks of gentle harassment, the woman finally relented and brought me on to do graphic design, design production, and sales. My first day, I settled into my computer workstation and noticed that the mouse was located on the left side of the keyboard. I, as a right-hander, made a motion to move the mouse to the right side of the keyboard.
"No," she said. "We use the mouse on the left side in this office."
I tried to convince her that I would be more effective if the mouse were on the right side of the keyboard. My new boss, whom I'd worn down to a nub to get this part-time job during my senior year, looked at me grimly and said, "You'll figure it out. Either that, or you're fired."
She walked quietly out of the room. Flabbergasted, and faced with my first deadline, I got a crash course in improving my dexterity with my left hand. By the end of the day, I was just as adept with my left hand as with my right. To this day, I still use the mouse with my left hand and write with my right. In fact, when I am faced with drawing on a computer, I'm much more proficient with my left hand.
One of my first employers forced me to look at the world differently and use the other half of my brain. In Dr. David Casasanto's article on Psychology Today, he shows how our handedness influences our emotions, motivations, and experiences. Unlike cognitive functions, emotional functions can switch between hemispheres, depending on which hand dominates. That means that a simple action like switching the mouse to the other side of the computer can influence how you feel about the task at hand, and even shape your motivation to complete it.
The link between brain activity and motor function lies at the heart of therapies like EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing). How you literally see can impact the way you figuratively see. The act of introducing motor functions to aid in mental processes can shape our behavior and how we perceive interactions with things and other people. For example, Casasanto stated in an interview with Psychology Today writer Katherine Schreiber that "one in four studies found that a job candidate who appears on the dominant side of an evaluator is judged in a more positive light than a candidate who appears on the evaluator's nondominant side." Something this simple contains huge implications on how we think and act.
So next time you find yourself dreading a task, judging someone harshly, or are trying to stop a bad habit, switch hands. It could add more balance to your decision making and help you achieve much more positive outcome.
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