Ambidexterity or ambidextrous. These are the words you have been looking for. Ambidexterity and ambidextrous are words used to describe having the ability to use both hands equally well. It will probably be obvious now why writing and drawing with both hands is good for you.
Being ambidextrous allows people to be more versatile and adaptable when solving creative problems. Sometimes a project you are working on might put your body in an awkward situation. If you are ambidextrous you have more chance of being able to overcome these problems. So, practise with both hands.
But it isn’t just having the ability to use both hands that makes being ambidextrous good for you. There are many more, not so obvious, benefits to being able to use both hands. Just practising a little bit using your ‘weaker’ or ‘supporting’ hand every so often can lead to huge benefits.
It helps you challenge yourself
Grab something to write with and try and write your name with your supporting hand (the one you use least often). Then write your name with your lead (stronger) hand. Then go back to writing with your supporting hand and so on.
It might seem frustrating or confusing, and that’s ok. Writing is a very complex and complicated skill. It’s often underestimated just how demanding and sophisticated the skill of writing is. But, with a little bit of practise here and there you will get better at it. You won’t get better at anything if you don’t continually try (and possibly fail).
What you do, just by trying this simple and effective exercise, is give yourself an easy and accessible challenge that you can do almost whenever you like. It’s going to help you test and challenge yourself on small scale which is going to benefit your personal growth. You can almost look at it as a gateway to accessing the ‘growth state of mind and mentality’ that you need to have when challenging yourself, overcoming obstacles, and solving problems.
It allows you to be versatile
Basically, you can do more than if you only use one hand.
A lot of people take for granted, or don’t have the time to appreciate, what they have. So, they don’t put effort into learning something new, or they don’t really have time to learn something new, or perhaps they don’t even use the skills and opportunities they have.
But, if you are stuck in a rut, or just fancy a new challenge. Learning to use your opposite hand might be the simple challenge that you need to kick start your enthusiasm and spirit to progress onto something else. It might provide you with the adaptability you need to make progress.
From a practical perspective, it might be that you are working on a piece of art that means it would be easier to do a part of it if you could use your other hand. So, that you don’t smudge part of the piece of work. Or quite often so you have a better line of sight to the canvas. Arms, fingers, and hands are great but at times they do get in the way. So, being able to use your other hand can remove something that is simply blocking what you can see.
How it changes the brain
At this point, I literally have no idea how it does this. There isn’t a great deal of information that is easily accessibly that clearly explains what the impacts of ambidexterity are on the brain. Studies are continually being done on all sorts of things surrounding the brain. But, I will update this section as and when I discover useful information.
From my non-scientific but artistic perspective, if being ambidextrous allows you to do more and achieve more. Then I would imagine that the way ambidexterity changes the brain is for the better.
It can help change your psychology
One thing I can comment on is the way it changes your psychology. Because, I have a psyche and I know how using art and ambidexterity has helped me over the years.
At times I’ve had struggles and got myself into a negative headspace. My internal dialogue has not be positive and progressive. But, I have maintained an ability to keep trying, keep learning, and keep making progress.
Some of this I believe is down to a level of ambidexterity. I am a creative person. I do use both hands in different activities. I’m typing this article using both hands; and we know there are a lot of people that type with one finger out in the world. I play basketball and am a qualified basketball coach. I can play some instruments that require the use of both hands.
Naturally, I have a preferred side. But given the challenge I can demonstrate an ability to improve my skillset. Because I tried to use my supporting hand as a lead hand.
All of this together has given me a range of experiences that means my psychology is overall more positive because I’ve proven to myself that I can continually learn and achieve new things.
You can strengthen your strengths
So, I tend to prefer the terms ‘lead’ and ‘supporting’ when referring to ambidexterity. I find ‘strong’ and ‘weak’ to be a bit of a negative approach that stunts progress. Because you end up referring to one of your faculties as weak. Which I don’t think is good when it comes to creating a positive environment. It means that people can get fixated on ‘weak’ and being ‘rubbish’ or ‘poor’ or ‘bad’ and all this other things associated with failure.
But, even without those terms and labelling. When you try and do something with your ‘supporting’ hand you reinforce your other strengths. Which can be really helpful.
Because when it comes to moments when you know you need to achieve something. You know essentially what to use. You know which hand to use ‘to put your strongest hand forward’.
You can be more productive and learn more
Again, when you take the time to think about it it’s obvious. If all things are equal, the person that can use two hands to perform a skill compared to the person who can use one is more productive. As a kid, I couldn’t easily type with two hands. Now I can type relatively quickly with two hands. It allows me to be more productive.
I’ve recently renovated a house. I did a lot of painting and decorating. Being able to use both hands allowed me to complete some tasks more easily because I was able to adapt rather than struggle because I was limited to just using the hand I was best at using.
When it comes to learning more. Well, because I can perform some tasks quicker it means that I’ve got more time to learn other things. I have more ‘free time’ because I can do the thigs I have to quicker.
It can improve focus
Focus is a skill. You need to be able to harness it and to be able to harness it you need to be able to practise it.
As with the exercise discussed at the beginning of the article. Just by doing the simple task of picking up a pen and writing on a piece of paper you are engaging those parts of your mind that use your focus. The challenge is going to make your focus sharper.
You know this, because you can experience it and feel it. Maybe your hand is a bit wobbly. Or you can’t control it’s movement quite how you want to. Maybe the work you do with your supporting hand is a bit ‘messy’ in comparison. That’s totally fine, it’s to be expected.
If you want to get better at things; make work neater, complete tasks quicker, and be more adaptable. Then try performing some things with the supporting hand.
It can help you become more resilient
Let’s keep it real for a second. When you start trying to do some of these tasks with your supporting hand, you are possibly going to mess up and make some mistakes. If you do so what!? No worries! You are going to have an experience that you can learn from and take lessons from. Taking lessons from experiences is key to resilience. Resilience is key to making progress and having success.
The beauty about art is that, for the most part, it doesn’t harm you or harm anyone around you. So, it’s a great arena to experiment in, learn, and develop new skills.
So, do it. Grab a pen, pencil, some paint or whatever it is you like to work with and have a go at creating something with your supporting hand. If nothing else hopefully you will have a great time and a laugh.
P.s. for anyone who is wondering, the budding footballers out in the world, the word for being able to use both feet well is ambipedal.
Examples of ambidextrous artists
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