10 Surprising Benefits of Being Left-Handed
Only ten per cent of the population is left-handed. While there may not be many of them, being left-handed sure does come with some surprising perks!
Being a lefty may help you succeed in leadership roles
“When I was at Columbia Law School, which is one of the most elite schools in the country, we noticed that a large proportion of the class was left-handed,” says Robert S. Herbst, a left-handed attorney, wellness expert, motivational speaker, and powerlifter. “This made sense as left-handed people are right-brained, meaning they are more creative, analytical, verbal, and have better language skills, all of which are traits necessary to being a good lawyer.” Herbst was also an Eagle Scout: “I have met a number of left-handed Eagle Scouts, including Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire and former New York City mayor. Perhaps being right brained and left-handed also gave us the leadership ability, discipline, and ambition to excel even at an early age.”
Lefties earn more
In a study published in Laterality, Christopher Ruebeck, PhD, an economist at Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania, found that lefties earn slightly more money than their right-handed peers who work at the same jobs. These results were most pronounced in left-handed college-educated men, Ruebeck says, who, on average, earn 15 per cent more than righties.
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Left handedness lets you stand out
“I remember back in high school, a friend had told me that being a lefty was going to be made into a handicap,” says Danielle Becker, a mixed media artist and the founder of Leftys Right Mind. “Besides being the only one in class with the side of their hand completely covered in pencil, I never felt being a lefty inhibited me from excelling in my work, let alone hold me back in life. In fact, I believe it sets me apart from the rest. I cherish the fact that I am a lefty. My left hand has guided me over the years to find my passion and to be able to live my dream as a professional designer.” She credits her creativity—her work as an artist—to being a lefty. “I thrive in the creative world. My wide array of talents across multiple platforms is rooted in (lefty) hands-on art making and a commitment to unbound creativity.”
Lefties often learn to be ambidextrous
“Over the years I have found myself learning to be ambidextrous simply because I had to,” says Ernestine Sclafani, a public relations specialist in Los Angeles. “The world is geared towards being right-handed: buttons on jackets, jeans, doorways, desks in school.” Certain activities also were made easier by switching the hands. “Learning to play golf was much easier being a right-handed person than left,” she says. Today, there’s more awareness of lefties and more products and activities that accommodate them. But being ambidextrous is certainly a good skill to have. “The single biggest benefit of being left-handed is that I am much more ambidextrous than the average right-hander,” says Phil Reames, owner of Reames Financial in Kalamazoo, Michigan. “I can pound nails with either hand. I was a switch hitter in baseball. About the only thing I can’t do well right-handed is write.”
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It’s a great conversation starter
“I’m a lefty and find that, strangely, people often notice,” says Ingrid Hansen, a publicist at Launch Media. “It’s a great conversation starter when they do.” Also, she finds that many lefties are introverted, which actually led her to her career. “As an introvert, I’ve created a successful company that coaches other introverts, including lefties, on speaking to the media.”
While it’s not always easy, the challenges can make you stronger
“While I cherish my creativity, I do find it difficult to live in a right-handed world,” says Kim Murphy, a left-handed author in Batesville, Virginia. “For instance, when I go to the library for research, there are rarely any computers set up for lefties. Garden equipment, such as weed whackers, can be downright dangerous for me to use. Still, I love being different.” Having to overcome obstacles, and always challenging yourself, ultimately makes you a stronger person. She, too, credits her left-handedness to her creative spirit. “Because I’m an author, I have met many authors and artists over the years and a higher percentage of the artists I have met are left-handed.”
Lefties are more like to think outside the box
According to the American Psychological Association, ten per cent of the population is left-handed. And according to a study in the Journal of Mental and Nervous Disease musicians, painters and writers were significantly more likely to be left-handed. Brain hemisphere specialist Michael Corballis, PhD, a psychologist at the University of Auckland in New Zealand, points out that just as information is prone to errors as it traverses between brain hemispheres, it’s also more likely to encounter novel solutions. Righties might dismiss an idea as too radical, but lefties might be able to develop a solution that a right-hander’s brain would skip right over. “It’s good to have a few people in any society who think outside the square,” Corballis says.
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You are in good company with these left-handed presidents
There have been eight U.S. presidents who have been lefties, including James A. Garfield, Herbert Hoover, Harry S Truman, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.
You’re likely to find lefties in your extended family tree
According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, multiple factors including genetics, environment and chance determine whether a person is left-handed. It was initially thought that a single gene controlled handedness, however recent studies suggest that multiple genes, perhaps up to 40, contribute to this trait. Each of these genes likely has a weak effect by itself, but together they play a significant role in establishing hand preference. However, because the overall chance of being left-handed is relatively low, most children of left-handed parents are right-handed (even though there’s a greater chance that left-handed parents have left-handed kids). If you look far enough in your family tree, you may be surprised to find a number of lefties there.
Your right-handed family members are more similar to you than you think
“While people tend to draw a line in the sand between lefties and righties, research is starting to suggest that it’s not quite that simple,” says Jason Eckerman, PhD, a licensed psychologist and lefty. He notes that one study found that righties that had left-handed blood relatives showed similar brain scans to lefties when presented with a language task, whereas righties without left-handed relatives responded pretty differently. What does this mean? “If you’re the only lefty in your family, you can feel comforted by the fact that your right-handed family members probably understand you better than you think.”