What’s Your Woo Woo?


Last month we were giddy up, this month we are woo woo. No I am not eating funky mushrooms, going crazy, soft, or losing my mind. I am highlighting the wisdom of Daniel Pink, from his book A Whole New Mind, a best-seller from over a decade ago. Mr. Pink offers discourse about right- and left-brain skills.

Artsy-fartsy, flaky, spacy and woo woo are words used by Pink in a beautiful discussion with Oprah Winfrey on her Super Soul podcast. How fantastic that we can open the door a bit wider to explore the concepts of left and right brain, which manifest different qualities in our human expression. From more recent studies, we see that talking about the right/left brains is a convenient way to “handle” a complex subject.

As we humans attempt to simplify experience with language, our “two brains” are linked deep in the body and are not really separate. One study in 2013 from the university of Utah discounts the left/right brain separation by demonstrating activity is similar on both sides. Robert Shmerling, Faculty Editor at Harvard Health, posted an article highlighting the earlier study finding, after examining brain scans of more than 1,000 people between the ages of 7 and 29. The researchers divided different areas of the brain into 7,000 regions to determine whether one side of the brain was more active or connected than the other side. No evidence of “sidedness” was found. The notion of some people being more left-brained or right-brained was concluded to be more a figure of speech than an anatomically accurate description.

While these studies are fascinating, I’m particularly interested in how the work of money – typically held in the “left brain,” and creative problem solving – typically held in the “right-brain,” come together to support how we improve our lives and the lives of others. Left-brain skills of planning and problem solving, believed to be critical to financial planning, open to the need for right-brain skills.

Pink emphasizes that while abundance explodes in our culture, we might be liberated from some wants but we are not fulfilled. The technical systems that allow for more material goods and services are not cultivating joy. Oprah and Pink review the six abilities that Pink says we need more of in our economy – skills linked to right brain – that have the chance to touch what lives in our hearts.

  • Symphony – Seeing the big picture, connecting the dots
  • Meaning – Finding our why, our deepest calling
  • Story – Seeing the world and relating to others
  • Empathy – Feeling the heart of another, standing in another’s shoes
  • Design – Creating beauty, innovation, and value
  • Play – There is no definition but I call it Joying

In a world of abundance, apparently we need something that we do not know we are missing. We need our body and our six senses (linked to our “left brain”) to fully experience a satisfying life.  In other words, abundance is not what we really seek but rather enriching experiences that are felt and experienced in our body, embodied experiences.  Routine or automation, is disappearing from this country. Routine is a series of steps that provides a “right answer.” Right answers don’t require curiosity or out-of-the-box exploration. Certain kinds of automated work formerly the work of USA, is now outsourced because it can be completed for a much lower cost. What cannot be outsourced are creativity and innovative capital; central to the six abilities.

Not only are these capacities the future of a developed mature country, they are the proficiencies of our financial journey. In other words, though we have technology to plan and systematize our finances, we long for something more satisfying. Satisfaction and well-being come from the integration of vision, heart longing, relationship, authentic connection, beauty, and joy.

The six abilities begin with curiosity – opening to a softer, artsy, woo woo space – followed by a commitment to practice. Practice means we are aware of engaging activities that root us in linear planning and weave the unknown innovative surprises in our lives. Certainty does not provide what makes life worth living. Not even close.

Woo wooing,