The Brain’s “Bigger Picture”

Bigger Picture

Which Brain Part Do You Start With?

Or restated in a different way: don’t start with the “how,” start with the “what.” Many folks do visioning and problem-solving by having some vague notion of what they want, and then drum and drum the “how” to get there.

They start with the right hemisphere, to a small degree, and then go the left hemisphere and work it and work it and work it until they are frustrated, angry, anxious and spent.

Your right hemisphere is the largest structure of your brain. Its computing capabilities are so enormous that scientists have been staggered by its power. Its function is to get the bigger picture, to see the whole of the vision and it is the integrative, “put it all together” coordinator of the brain.

If you have an addiction problem with alcohol or drugs or other things that work like drugs on the brain, it is the right hemisphere that becomes impaired. That is why addicts have trouble getting the whole picture. The good news is that this part of the brain will recover with about 3 years of sobriety.

The right hemisphere, if you will use it, will not only give you the bigger picture; it will help you image and create this larger vision in such a way that the rest of the brain will follow and cooperate in creating the vision.

The rest of the brain will follow in filling in the pieces (the how) in a pretty effortless fashion. The right hemisphere is something like a magnet or attractor of the whole vision, and focuses all of the brain in that direction.

The left hemisphere is the detail oriented, problem-solving work horse of the brain. It is very busy keeping things organized and in place. It works on the pieces and parts of a vision. It is the detail keeper and works on specific tasks.

However, if you start with the left hemisphere, before the right hemisphere has done its work of integration, you get confusion, frustration, worry, impatience, downspiraling, and fatigue because its efforts have not experienced the integrative function that the right hemisphere provides.

So, step back, disengage, meditate, day-dream, doodle, outline, and relax. Don’t try to get the whole picture in a day, although that can happen.

Work with the idea of engaging the right hemisphere and getting the bigger picture. Tell the brain that’s what you want to do.

See anxiety, fear, and fatigue as signs to rest and take time to get this bigger picture.

Use the Emotional Gym and pulse, love, peace, gratitude, joy, and hope. All of these emotions are generated by the integrative processing of the right hemisphere.

© Dr. William K. Larkin 

About the author

Dr. William K. Larkin
  • Dr. gloria wright

    It’s interesting to note that when setting goals from desires, it is best to start with the right brain hemisphere. It’s good to let a full image formulate BEFORE setting to tasks. When an idea is not complete, it can lead to false starts. Of course, when on a path, we often learn what is working and not working. When something has too many roadblocks, it often makes me question whether it is truly meant to be.
    Impatience can lead to starts without a finish. Often fruition comes slower than we like, but perseverance is easier when we are certain and determined.
    We live in a check-mark driven society. “Get it done” before we really know what we want can give you check marks but doesn’t get you to your goal.
    Knowing what you want can be more of a challenge than you might think. I remember putting my desires on post-it notes. After I let them sit a while, I edited some, removed some and added some. It takes time to sit with an idea to assure that it is really what you want. When you get the idea straight in your mind, the universe seems to bring you things that support your vision. I remember when the chair of my dissertation committee told me that when I had my dissertation topic, books would fall off the shelf (before Google )and people would come into my life to support my research. He was right!
    Getting the bigger picture complete in your mind (right brain hemisphere) will lead you to the steps for completion. One example that comes to mind is when a colleague said, “You don’t write a book, you rewrite a book.” So true about anything that matters. It takes time to bring dreams to fruition!

  • Shuhan Yang, PHR CPCC ACC

    When we exceed the age of 18, we are stepping into another developmental phase of our brain, which engages the functionality of both hemispheres. We become “too wise to memorize meaningless details”. Our brain’s work becomes a whole brain activity that make us more “big picture-oriented”. As stated in this article, our right brain is in charge of holding our vision and desires and the left brain figures out “how” to get there. Often times, we are so fixated on the “how” that we lose sight of “what” we truly want. We then get frustrated, stressed and depressed because we are constantly druming the “how” with the left brain and that cancels out the “what” that the right brain is fully capable of creating.

    We are born to constantly birth and form new desires; that’s what keeps us alive and moves forward in life. When we focus on using the right brain to form the “what” of our wantings, the rest of the brain will work in the same direciton. In other words, when we focus on what we really want and believe that we can receive that wanting, the “how” falls into place. VibeCore shows us how alive we are. When our VibeCore score is high, we are more in flow in our lives — we have the clarity in what we truly want, the belief in receiving our wantings as well as the openness to how and when to receive that wanting in whatever shapes and forms. When fixiating on the “how”, we are not “one with the music”; we are stuck and our capacity to create continuous desires is limited.

  • Michelle Carl Rizal

    What an amazing insight to know what the right hemisphere of the brain can do for us as far as organizing the bigger picture, seeing the whole vision, and putting it together. Since time immemorial, most schools have been designed to support and reward children who excel in the use of the left brain hemisphere. The same holds true with many books and articles showing us the “how.”

    Now that we have more information about the brain, it is time to empower ourselves and our children to take advantage of both functions in a way that will help us realize our dreams. This starts with answering the “what.” With a Zeno focus, it is important to go inward and ask the question,”what do I want?” This blog is a reminder that we always have a choice and if we forget, we can restore and reclaim this choice.

Copyright © 2015 The Applied Neuroscience Institute