Southpaw central


In a world dominated by the right-handed, being left-handed is definitely a struggle. Being a leftie means dealing with ink-stained hands when writing; and dreaded classroom seats with tables propped on the right. Aside from physical struggles, psychological ones also seem inevitable. For instance, the word left may originate from the Anglo-Saxon word “lyft” meaning weak—but the lefties are no longer holding up to that name. With that in mind, let’s celebrate the traits of the 10 percent who are often literally elbowed by the other 90 percent.

Leftward roots

People are left-handed, not because they’re supposed spawns of the devil, but because of something simpler—genes. A study conducted by geneticist Silvia Paracchini found that left-handed people have the same type of genetic code as those with situs inversus, the gene defunct that causes one’s internal organs to be mirrored from the normal orientation. This means that left-handed people may be a result of this asymmetry caused by this gene.

Emotional powerhouses

Leftie3-minIf you’re a leftie, you’d know just how frustrating life can be in a world designed for the right-handed, from using scissors to beliefs that you’ll die earlier than the right counterparts. With these negative connotations assigned to being left-handed, scientists have discovered that lefties are more prone to experiencing emotions as they have more control of the right hemisphere. Given this, ancestral lefties must have had a hard time facing prejudice.

It’s not bad being in tune with one’s emotions, but a hurdle is imposed as lefties are more vulnerable to mental illnesses or psychotic disorders like schizophrenia, according to a study by Yale researcher Jadon Webb and his colleagues. This doesn’t mean, however, that lefties will automatically have a mental disorder. Take a breath—there are still several factors that contribute to mental illness.

Artsy impulse

Leftie2-minWith several left-handed artists such as Michelangelo, Leonardo Da Vinci, Rembrandt van Rijn, and Paul McCartney who’ve made their mark in history, it’s easy to believe that lefties have a creative streak that only gets stronger with time.

As having a different hand preference instantly suggests a different way of thinking, the book Differences in Divergent Thinking as a Function of Handedness and Sex by Stanley Coren, says that lefties possess the divergent thinking skill. While the skill isn’t similar to Tris and Four from Divergent, leftie shave ability to fashion fresh ideas using a method of thought-generation that explores many possible solutions.

If a tendency toward creativity still doesn’t prove the diversity of lefties, the book Right-Hand, Left-Hand by Chris McManus of the University College London also states an increase in the proportion of high-achieving lefties. According to McManus, the left-handed determining gene also governs the development of the brain’s language centers. So lefties shouldn’t be shy to try their hand at art and literature, especially with their genes to back up their endeavors.

Leaders on the left

Leader-minIf you’ve been a leftie all your life, odds are that growing up in a right-handed world will challenge you to think outside the box and to take the lead. In ancient times, students were forced to tie their left hand in an attempt to make them right-handed, and people were actually tortured in order for the hand preference to be “beaten out” of them because of the lack of rights for the left-handed, they’ve been taught from the start to fight for their liberties, and now they’re doing just that.

The benefit of being a black sheep in this world is the desire to avoid the herd mentality and staying adaptive in any situation. Stanley Coran,a retired psychology professor and author of The Left-Hander Syndrome: The Causes and Consequences of Left-Handedness explained that lefties tend to be pushier, more dominant, more manipulative, and more self-centered—qualities that would probably make a good politician.

Being right-hemisphere dominant makes the lefties and their plays unpredictable on and off the court. A left-handed person’s ability to surprise and catch a right-handed player off guard in sports also extends to the intellectual battlefield.Perhaps it would be interesting to see the hand preference of candidates for the upcoming 2016 election.

Animal instincts

Leftie4-minHumans aren’t the only ones facing the highs and woes of being a leftie, even some furry friends know the challenges and rewards of being different. Though some of them might feel it less, animals have a higher chance of being left-handed than humans as household pets like dogs and cats have a 50/50 paw preference, while ours is 90/10 right handedness over left.The difference in percentage is possible as the brain control of animals determines their eye and hand preference. Unlike humans, genes don’t play a part in the paw preference.

Though it is still generally accepted that other animals do not exhibit the same potency of hand preference as humans, the waters continue to be tested as new studies continuously give way to enlightening results. An example of new discoveries is that some animals rely on the production and analysis of complex sounds to show which side they have preference on. Examples of which are humpback whales and songbirds that use their call on a specific side of their body, according to Right, Left, Right, Wrong?

Though we don’t think much of animals when it comes to being left or right-handed, certain animals such as kangaroos, parrots, and polar bears are mostly left-handed and share the leftie experience with 10 percent of the population.