When I first noticed that my second son consistently held his fork and crayon with his left hand, I was a little surprised. My husband and I are righties, and so is our first son. All of our parents (except for my mom) and all of our siblings are righties too. Obviously, I knew that there would be a chance I’d have a left-handed child—and I had no issue whatsoever with him being left-handed—it just felt like unchartered territory.
I immediately wondered if life might be that much more difficult for my son. If you think about it, the world is definitely oriented toward right-handedness. For example, can openers, most scissors, computer keyboards, vegetable peelers, and so much more, are all designed for righties. Even the orientation of most door knobs are made for right-hand dominated people. Go figure.
Thankfully, nowadays left-handedness is much more accepted than it used to be. Teachers no longer force left-handed kids to write with their right hands (yes, this actually used to happen). And I have found that save for a few annoying instances (the Magna Doodle is NOT designed for lefties and my son threw that thing across the room a few times in exasperation), my son has gotten by just fine.
After all, 10-15% of population is left-handed—it’s really not that abnormal at all. And left-handed people are not going anywhere; if left-handedness was a true disadvantage, evolution would have had a say in it ages ago. Tons of super-successful people have been left-handed (including 7 of the last 15 U.S. presidents). Left-handed people actually have some really special and unique qualities. For example:
1. Left-handed people can be quick thinkers.
Left-handed people are more likely to use the right hemisphere of their brains, and as a 2006 study in Neuropsychology describes it, they are more able to switch between their left and right hemisphere and use both sides of their brains concurrently. This leads to quicker, more effective thinking and processing of information. Go lefties!
2. Left-handed people are often more creative.
You’ve probably heard more than once that left-handed people are more creative. Clearly there are a ton of creative right-handed folks, but being a leftie may have some advantages. It all so goes back, again, to lefties being able to more fully utilize both sides of their brain’s hemispheres. In his book, Right-Hand, Left-Hand, psychologist Chris McManus explains that the highly developed right hemisphere that lefties typically have is where more creative thinking takes place. And hey, it can’t be a coincidence that M.C. Escher, Michelangelo, Raphael, Leonardo da Vinci, and possibly even Van Gough were all left-handed, right?
3. Left-handed people have some health advantages.
A study published in Laterality found that lefties are less likely to get ulcers or arthritis—it turns out that the DNA of lefties might offer this protection. Being left-handed may also protect you from some of the damaging effects of strokes, according to Inside Science. Pretty awesome, huh?
4. Left-handed people may be better at sports.
Did you know that 25% of major league baseball pitchers are lefties? That same 2006 study authors from Neuropsychology hypothesized that all that multi-hemisphere usage may make left-handed people’s response time quicker. Lefties also may have an advantage when it comes to interactive sports such as baseball, basketball, and tennis. Attribute this to the fact that lefties have a different physical orientation, which can throw of the right-handed players they compete against. Left-handed people may also be better at video games (but don’t tell that to my left-handed kid; he already plays way too many video games to begin with).
5. Left-handed people have different mental health needs.
According to a study from Cornell University, the way that psychologists have typically studied emotional regulation is based on a right-hand dominated model. For example, it’s been thought that emotions like happiness and anger live in the left side of the brain, and disgust and fear dwell in the right side of the brain. But the fact is that left-handed people often house their emotions in different parts of their brains than righties, so these models don’t work. This could have serious implications in terms of treatments like electro-shock therapy, which would work completely wrong in lefties, say the study researchers.
Now, I’m clearly biased here, but after raising a left-handed kid for the past 6 and a half years, I have to say that all of these amazing stats about left-handed folks are definitely true. My little guy is one of those “out-of-the-box” thinkers, he’s smart as a whip, quick on his feet, and he has one of the most unique and beautiful souls of anyone I’ve ever encountered.
Of course, all of this stuff about left-handed people are generalities. There are obviously plenty of righties that espouse many of these special qualities. But there are definitely a ton of cool and truly unique things about being a leftie. Seriously, even just navigating our right-handed dominated world—and not falling on your face each day—must build a certain amount of dexterity, strength, and resilience.
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