According to the Davidson Lateralization Theory of Emotions, our left brain hemisphere regulates “approach” tendencies while our right brain hemisphere regulates “withdraw” tendencies.
“Approach” includes emotions such as joy, motivation, and even anger – these are emotions that cause us to interact with the world. “Withdraw”, on the other hand, includes emotions such as sadness and the need for isolation. Depression has been shown to be associated with hypoactivation (i.e. under activation) of the left hemisphere, while mania has been shown to be associated with the hypoactivation of the right.
I am, by nature, a withdraw person. There are many plans and goals I’ve set for myself that I have not really achieved precisely because, at the crucial time, my right hemisphere decides to go into overdrive and I become withdraw-oriented. (At least, that’s my guess.) I tend to rationalize these unfulfilled plans – the weather was bad, I don’t feel very well, I should do laundry, etc.
Yesterday was one of the rare days I had forced myself to approach. Despite the groggy weather, I made the decision to visit the Milton and Tamar Maltz Performing Arts Center at Temple-Tifereth Israel to take some photos for the Yearbook. The Temple was completed in 1924, designed by Bostonian architect Charles R. Greco, and served as a historic synagogue. In 2015, in a historic partnership with Case Western Reserve University, the Temple was renovated and reopened as a performing arts center.
As I was photographing the building, I was approached by a security guard who asked if I wanted to take photos inside of the Temple. It was a real treat to be able to even photograph the empty building from the inside – but I was able to go up to the top of the building, behind the beautiful stained glass windows.
The whole experience was surreal, and very spiritual, though I am not Jewish. The Temple has a magnificent history, was home to two exceptionally famous Rabbis, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. To be able to visit the building, and its exceptional architecture, and to transverse passageways that very few people have graced, was an amazing experience.
I left feeling thankful, refreshed, and above all – proud. I was proud of myself for stepping out of my comfort zone, for pushing myself to overcome my withdraw urge, and to actually engage.
Not only was I able to procure some beautiful photographs, I also made some new friends and, most importantly, I learned something — pushing your limits can yield unexpected results. (Cheesy, I know.)
This experience reminds me of a lovely quote by Johannes Kepler to Galileo Galilei in a letter – “Have faith, and carry on.”
Indeed, have faith — and don’t forget to carry your camera!
(1) Davidson’s Approach/Withdrawal model has been one of the most noteworthy models of cerebral regulation of emotions. Read his landmark paper here.
(2) Read more about the Temple via its wiki page, here.
(3) For some photos, I have been experimenting with Google’s Nik Collection. It has been made free for download. Check it out, here.