Switching Hands

Recently, I had to change from using my right to left hand when my right arm, my dominant hand side, began to ache. Likely the pain had to do with the various weights I need to use in my work and the movements of my arm with them. It needs a rest. So I’ve switched for these chores.

I’ve discovered, though, that switching from right to left was not an easy proposition, and I often find that I have reverted back to my right, which I only realize when it begins to hurt again.

This situation got me to thinking: We tend to believe that a person’s personality and mannerisms are pretty well set by the time he/she has become an adult. Freud believed personality was set by the age of five, an hypothesis that, far as I can tell, is no longer accepted by psychologists today. Right/left handedness however, is considered set by the age of three.

I’ve often been of the opinion that our genes and our personality are intimately intertwined. I came to this (admittedly anecdotal) conclusion years ago by my observation that people that look similar (we’re talking individuals here) often seem to behave similarly, sometimes strikingly so, kind of like distant twins. The question is, are our personalities engraved in our genes? Nature over nurture, and more interestingly (or threateningly 😦 ) can a knowledgable person (or researcher) looking at a person’s physical features immediately know what kind of person he/she is?). Maybe. ‘Course I may be full of it too, as I’m definitely no expert. Perhaps it’s more general, kind of the way that golden retrievers tend to be gentler than pit bull dogs. They’ve been bred that way – it’s in their genes.

Anyway, turns out that the personality can change given the right circumstances, something previously considered impossible.

Thus I propose an experiment for you all. Try, just for a single day, switching from using your dominant hand to the other. Whatever you do with your dominant hand now do with the other (except as involves safety related issues, obviously). Can you do it? Then try it for a week, or even a month. It’s tough, I know, but just as an experiment I’m going to see how long I can.

And perhaps if people can change their handedness and they can change their personalities, there is hope for the world after all.

Later Addition. There’s a side benefit here: studies show that challenging the mind by learning new skills actually keeps it young.


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