The Applied Neuroscience Institute

Home of the NeuroPositive Method™
The Neuroscience of the UpSpiral Of Emotion, Health & Optimal Living

1
What Strength Is Most Blocked In You?
2
Flow As Medicine?
3
LIFE: AN UP SPIRAL OR A SLUMP?
4
In Tune With What You Want?
5
The UpSpiral & DownSpiral Of Wanting
6
Just 4 Little Words…
7
Thoughts, Feelings, Sleep
8
Looking for “Like Minded” Friends?
9
UpSpiral, DownSpiral?…
10
Positivity…More Than Just A Smiley Face

What Strength Is Most Blocked In You?

Our weaknesses are the opposite of our strengths, grown in the opposite direction of their inherent goodness.

Character defects and our “flaws” can be so strong, because their effects in us are something like the persistent stretching of a thick, thick rubber band, pulled more and more tightly and stretched more thinly inside us.

It’s an enormous amount of energy that gets trapped in that stretch and pull, until there is a snap. Something inside us seems to just give way,

Sometimes that snap is very destructive, but other times we can navigate that energy back
in the direction of its true nature – a strength that has been perverted into a flaw of our character and our basic nature.

It can bring us back to the truth of our strengths.

Author Pir V. I. Khan writes:  “The same pain that can blemish our personality can act as a creative force, burnishing it into an object of delight.”

When I worked in the Federal prison system full of “bad guys,” and they would come to talk with me, I was most impressed with the number of them who had committed crimes influenced by alcohol and drugs.

Alcohol seemed to be worse in its effect than drugs, but there was an astounding association with crime. It is gasoline for the fire of self-hate.

Minus the substance abuse problems, I wondered if many of these men would even have been there.

However, the real point to be made is that as I talked with them, I could always find their inherent goodness. There were few psychotics. There were plenty, though, who were deeply angry, essentially at themselves.

The next time you see behavior that is very negative and offensive, ask yourself what strength of character is its opposite.

Then look at yourself and ask what you dislike most, what you beat up on yourself most about, and the negative that you most notice in other people.

Then ask yourself what strength you have in yourself that is most thwarted, blocked, or submerged, wanting to express itself as the opposite of your self-recrimination.

Using your strengths, coming from your strengths, thinking from your strengths, you simply ask these strengths of yours to tell you what is the good that IS you, what good can come from any situation.

© Dr. William K. Larkin

 

Flow As Medicine?

 

Anything in life can be a flow experience.

Just go back and remind yourself of the steps for creating flow and you know that anything can be a flow activity, if you can get to “oneness” with it- forget yourself and get to that point where you are one with the music of whatever you’re doing.

Within us, at your choice to use them right on the spot, are your strengths, that are always ready to help, with just a decision to do so.

It is what we call that place of “flow and zone,” and it can become a learned choice.

What is amazing is that “flow” is like a drug or a medication.

We are concerned about the effects of drugs and medications, particularly psychotropic or psychological drugs.

What we don’t realize is that social interaction, the way we think and feel. what we talk about, and the social context around us, affects the brain as much if not more than drugs, in the long-term.

Your thoughts and feelings affect the development of neuropathways in the brain.  Negative and anxious conversations about “bad” things and people affect the amygdala of the brain, which is a center of fear, negativity, worry, and anxiety.

The more you focus on the negative, the more extensive and tightly bound are the neuropathways that are connected to the negative memories that are held by the left hemisphere.

Don’t like to take medication?  Don’t want to use drugs?

Then make “flow” the medication you use.

As it shifts you from your left hemisphere dominance to the larger picture of the right hemisphere, that sense of being one with the music, that subtle shift turns on the “feel good” chemicals, and gives you distance and perspective, and it adds to the brain’s buffer of positivity.

The more you are in flow and the more you experience being “one with the music,” the more you build it into your life. You are building your reservoir of psychological capital and you are also building a “buffer zone” of positivity.

This buffer zone protects against what is negative and creates a resistance to disease, and a greater immunology to what seems negative in life.  It will take longer for things to affect you in a negative way.

Negatives will have a shorter life.  You will be less reactive and you’ll experience less stress.

We are always moving the “lean” of the brain toward a positive state of feeling.  Focus on what is positive; your brain “runs” better.

Make positive feelings the ambient sound track of your life is another way of talking about being “one with the music” of life.  “Just this,” learned as a skill in even the most boring of tasks, can turn just about anything into an opportunity to practice focus and to forget and escape the evaluative ego.

Welcome to “flow as medicine.”

© Dr. William K. Larkin

 

LIFE: AN UP SPIRAL OR A SLUMP?

 

There are oftentimes negatives in your face.

What is their wisdom?

“Ships sail out, and ships sail west,

By the very same breezes that blow:

It’s the set of the sails,

And not the gales,

That determine where they go.”

The wind in your face, that is for sure a negative, can cause you to despair of going further, or the negative can be the gift that it can be: the decision to reassess and use your for a change in direction.

Then what blew in your face becomes the energy that fills your sails.

Negativity is a warning and an indicator that leads us in another direction. We are not intended to stay in negativity, but it is a normal part of life as an indicator.

We are all going to have negative times and slumps, when we are obviously not operating with all of our cylinders of energy and positivity firing. They are called our BRAC cycle.

Our BRAC cycle happens about every 12 hours, and at one end we are at our highest and best and at the other end we are at our lowest.

BRAC is an acronym for our daily biological clock of our highest high and our lowest low within a 24 hour period. But regardless, this is not an excuse to feel worse, think worse, and expect something worse at the lowest point of your day.

Why does it happen? It is a natural flow of energy.

Why is that we can have a down day, or a down “several days?” When you all get finished asking the wrong question, which is “why”, and come up with a thousand different answers, it doesn’t matter. It just happens.

The question is how do we use it? Use the time gently and be as encouraging to yourself as you would be with your best friend.

Treat yourself as nicely and as lovingly as a friend who was having a slump. Would you beat up on them and ask them a thousand questions until you got to the very “bottom” of their souls? Of course not.

Tell yourself about how good you are when all your cylinders are firing. Tell yourself what it feels like when you’re not in a slump, tell yourself that you know you will bounce back, not only back but that you are very resilient, and that you will be feeling even better and that you will be higher and higher in your UpSpiral.

Use your NeuroPositive skills and tools and manage this BRAC cycle more effectively.

Slumps just are, and if there is a reason for them, the reason will “show up” when you feel better and it will come to you. It will just come to you if you leave it alone. In one way or another it will come to you.

The more you nag at it and dissect it and talk about, the more you create it. The best answers to your problems come when you aren’t thinking about them, or the answers surprise you when they come through someone else or a movie or a book, or just a knowing.

Stop beating your slump and yourself to death, and practice the principles that we teach in our classes and our coaching.

You become the emotions you choose to live in. Lean, just gently, peacefully lean toward the positive, if you can only do it a little.

Every negative is a gift or solution in disguise.

© Dr. William K. Larkin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In Tune With What You Want?

Let’s talk about the whole idea of a personal vibration.

It is not a new idea. You really already know about this if you listen to your “gut” or your intuition, or the sense you have when you walk into a room. It is so much a part of us that we don’t even really notice it, but we use it all the time.

However, it’s possible to be out of touch with this vibration and to be unaware of it as well.

A vibration is your “vibe,” it’s the vibe you put out to others about who and how you are. And it’s the vibe you pick up from others about who and how they are. It is so close to you it’s almost like an instinct.

It can come as a surprise, though, that we may be better at picking up someone else’s vibe more than we are aware of what is our own vibe and what makes it what it is.

But how can it be possible that three simple things- knowing what you want, believing you will get it, and openness to how it will come, can constitute your vibe?   How, you may ask, can it be that simple? It really isn’t simple.

Profound human issues are behind each one of these three measures of you. But you can be sure that the truth of them is as real as the beat of your heart and the pulse of your own personal rhythms in life. This vibe is you in profound but simple ways.

This vibe tells a very great story. Perhaps the most amazing thing is that others can pick it up so easily, at least those who are tuned in to others. Oftentimes we pick up this vibe from others before we are even conscious that we have registered it in our consciousness.

What about a vibration being like a magnet? Does it really have an attracting or “drawing” capacity?

Think about it. Does the vibe of another person attract you quickly to them or repel you from them?

As you tune into that person, does it draw you more or are you increasingly uncomfortable that there is a lack of compatibility on some level –that you are just not coming from the same place?

Or is there the other experience of “like mindedness” or that “this person ‘gets’ me or at least could when we are more acquainted?

Think also about how, the longer you are around another person’s vibe, that you have learned to be so used to their vibe that you can read them in an instant. We sometimes call it reading their “mood,” but this is much more than mood.

Mood is an outcome of what we call one’s VibeCore.

There is at the core of us this “vibe” thing and it is going to pretty well be described by three measures: wanting, believing, and openness.

A tuning fork is an instrument that allows a sensitive and trained ear to hear the correlation between a note that is played and its synchrony to the energy pitch of the tuning fork.

We are like that note being played, and our Mind can be like a tuning fork. We can become accustomed to “hearing” if our vibration is resonating with our VibeCore. This is a way of talking about what constitutes the “notes” we play and how they resonate with the rest of the world.

The questions are: are we in tune with ourselves?

Are we in a state of “mindfulness” about our inner vibrations?

Can we hear our own inner VibeCore and “tune” it in to where we want it to be, and to what we want it to be attracting in our world?

© Dr. William K. Larkin

The UpSpiral & DownSpiral Of Wanting

Have you ever gone to a store with the express purpose of buying something you needed, got home with one or two bags of things, and realized that you forgot what you went for?

You may have reasoned that you didn’t need a list, but on the way to the store, you weren’t particularly thinking about what you were going there to get. You were distracted by the traffic and the sights along the way. You found the store, and dutifully went into your destination without a thought in your mind about what you were there for.

Maybe you walked in with something gnawing on the back of your mind, but you shopped and got a few things, got distracted by a few others, found a good deal, and knew that you were in a hurry to get back home.

Then just before you got into your driveway, you realized that you didn’t get what you went for, and you weren’t about to turn around and go back and get it.

You aren’t alone, if this has happened to you,  because it has happened to most people more than one time. It is the way our brain works.

We don’t necessarily focus on what we intend to want, but more significant than that, we don’t always know what we want. In fact, a lot of the time, we don’t know what we really want.

We are much better at thinking we know what we want than we are at really knowing our wants and our desires.

Wanting and remembering what we want, and going after it, is much more significant than we give it play. We treat it something like going to the store for something that we forget. The long-term implications for living are that we can live our entire lives, and never really go after or do what we want to do.

In fact, we can live our entire lives, never ask, and never really know.

If you have dreamed a few times in your life, and you think the result has been some kind of mistake or even a disaster, you may have decided that you can’t trust what you dream or that what you want deeply just isn’t going to be yours.

If you have failed at what you dream many times, you may have decided that you are a failure for having had such dreams, and being foolish enough to follow them.

You were foolish not to have followed them.

Whether or not you were foolish doesn’t begin to be the issue. The issue is what have you learned. Or if you realized, considered, and were open to the learning, what has it taught you?

Many people just close off, not only to what they are dreaming, wanting, and desiring, but they have learned to trust someone else’s dreams or someone else’s best plan for them, deeply believing that their own “wanting” is flawed. That’s a good description of life in a DownSpiral.

You will never find what you want in a DownSpiral, at the bottom of the barrel, or going down further into it.

What you name in a DownSpiral is usually a reaction to not feeling good, it comes from resistance, or tiredness, or exasperation. They are not the ideas that will fulfill you.

When you are in a DownSpiral, you do not think of things in a realistic way, that will make you happy in the long term. And even though there may be exceptions, it is not the rule and not the easy way to do this. It is not the way that remains firm.

One requirement for identifying what you deeply want is to stay in an UpSpiral and use your strengths as guides.

© Dr. William K. Larkin

 

Just 4 Little Words…

WHAT DO YOU WANT?

The answer to this question is largely determined by another question…

Where is your focus?

The PAST or The FUTURE?

We have been conditioned to believe that the past determines the future, when it is actually the future that determines the present.

How you see the future, not how you are bound by the past, is much more important.

What we believe the future will be and imagining into that future creates the vitality of the present. It is the source of creativity in the present and it is the essence of hope, possibility, and vitality.

We usually do not spend a great deal of time thinking about the future after we are 10 or 12, but we do have a very powerful, vague idea of how it is going to be. It is taking that vague notion of the future and filling it with dreams, goals, and the power of the imagination that changes our mind-set from being fixed to being open and available for growth.

Just as an exercise, imagine six impossible things before breakfast. You will be using parts of your brain that are vital to the overall health of your brain.

Read this one more time: It is the future that determines the present. It is your vague, almost unconscious notion of the future that is doing a great big job on you, your mood, your apprehensions, and your daily zest, vitality and creativity.

Ordinary mental life is chock-full of this activity. Mind wandering, day-dreaming and fantasy are the least of it. In an ordinary conversation, for example, the mind is continually “running ahead” of present stimuli, exploring possibilities for the meaning of the other’s remarks or for one’s own next response.

The left frontal lobe of your brain, just to name one part, is about visioning and direction. It works in tandem with the right hemisphere to get the “whole picture” and then to make choices about future directions.

If you don’t use this part of your brain for this purpose of visioning, it goes over and over the sorting process of what is simply there already –round and round and round. If you don’t use this part of your brain, you dwell on the mundane, what the neighbors are doing, and you talk more about other people than you talk about ideas.

What do you think your future will bring? What are you expecting? What is most influencing your future, the evening news report and the stock exchange numbers, the size of your bank account, or the size of your imagination?

No invention, no real progress was ever brought to fruition without imaging some greater part of the process. The point of change is when we get off the problem and say, “what’s next?” The Mind will answer back from the open empty part, not the problem-filled focus.

You have an idea of the future, and it is much more significant than your past. Unearthing your past will not engage your future. Transformational moments happen when we begin to imagine possibilities. If you have to dig up your past to get to the place where you can do that, then do it.

But if you don’t, just consider this: what is possible?

© Dr. William K. Larkin

Thoughts, Feelings, Sleep

What’s the connection?

Think about this.

With every thought and feeling, you are affirming something.

What you affirm, what you think and feel,  add up neuron by neuron into the neuropathways of the brain that become an ambient mood than leans in the direction of a way of believing and thinking.

It is not as though we base our thoughts on facts; to the contrary, that is seldom the case unless make that our intention.

Every thought and feeling is affirming something that is a building block upon which you are building your predisposition to mood and thought.

What are you affirming throughout the day?

What is your mood, what are your feelings, what are you thinking?

In our Emotional Gym, you learn to “lift” the weight of a positive emotion.

You start small and then make the feeling heavier, weightier. You can learn to get there in instant, you can learn to nurse a positive feeling in the same way you nurse a negative one, and then you can intensify those feelings.

What are you affirming as you think and feel?

Why feelings and not thoughts?

We think our thoughts are all powerful, but they are very often simply the expressions of patterns of “used to” feelings that have originated in the oldest part of the brain, the amygdala.

There we have learned to associate and feel almost instantaneously the feelings we so subtly and usually feel, that we don’t even know they are driving our moods, our anxieties, and our ups and downs.

And in case you’re skeptical about these thought and feeling patterns you’re creating every day, here’s the research on sleep that you need to know.

You need an average of 7-9 hours of sleep every night.

This gives the brain an opportunity to flush out the “clutter” that builds up, like protein plaques and beta amyloid tangles, through an ingenious disposal mechanism called the glymphatic system.

Over the long term, that can buffer you against cognitive decline, dementia, even Alzheimer’s.

What you think and feel, what you habitually “affirm” during your day, MATTERS.

What are you affirming as you enter into sleep?

© Dr. William K. Larkin

Looking for “Like Minded” Friends?

Think again.

Maturity is primarily characterized by mutuality.

Mutuality is the capacity to accurately see and know another person as they are without projecting yourself onto them.

We call this self/other differentiation.

The clearer I see you, the healthier will be my response to you.

The cloudier I see you, based upon my own projection, the more off-base will be my communications with you.

When you are trapped in tight, closed ways of thinking, you have to see others as you need to see them, not as they are.

Consequently you can never really connect with them, or them with you, because you would have to change how you think and know your world to be.

Most people are full of ideas of how other people should be and how they should or should not act.

The crunch comes when you get bent out of shape because others are not acting or being in ways that you think are essential to their relating to you.

Some even talk of wanting to be surrounded by “like-minded” people.

Good luck with that.

If you’re experiencing a shortage of like-minded people in your world, or your like-minded people are just not behaving like you think they should, chances are you’re the problem –at least you’re not in the solution.

Chances are you are walking away from your strengths, or can’t even connect with them.

You’re living in an a more pervasive experience of what’s not working, seeing it even as more a permanent part of you, than temporary and limited in nature.

How permanent and pervasive can you make the good things in you? In your life?

Are you holding on more tightly to your worldview, and your consequent view of others, whether it works or not?

How is that an expression of your UpSpiral, your Emotional Scale, the range of your optimism, or the pervasiveness of your focus on what’s missing or not working?

The more you do try and hold on, even cling, to your view of how others should be, the more others behave less and less like you think they should.

These “others” also have the complete and utter nerve to suggest that you might be the problem, or they just outright tell you that you’re the problem.

Of course, you know that you’re not.

These “others” become more and more wrong, and you hold more and more rigidly to the idea of being right rather than being happy.

Happy with that, are you?

© Dr. William K. Larkin

 

UpSpiral, DownSpiral?…

Or Somewhere In Between?

There are times when we are aware that “this or that” caused the emotions we feel. And very often we are sure that “someone” else caused us to feel like we feel.

While we are the cause of our emotions, it is just as true that long existing emotional patterns are hard to control. Memories that are implicit, or prior to our actually remembering, cause deep-seated emotional reactions.

However, the answer to managing emotions may be much easier than we expected. Instead of undoing negative emotions and their patterns, we are going to focus here only on building positive emotions.

We do not ignore negative emotions, but we just don’t choose to live there.

Here what we do choose is to reverse the cause and effect of positive emotions.

We treat positive emotions as though they are the rewards or the outcomes of living in some sort of way.

Something will make us grateful, an event will give us joy, a relationship will give us love, a goal will give us hope, and a pill will give us some peace.

Positive emotions are treated as though they are the results of things on the outside, happening to us in a certain kind of way, and when the stars line up, or our problems get solved, or people line up in a certain way, then the result will be our joy or our gratitude.

Positive emotions are often results oriented, and we get to have them when something happens on the outside of us that creates that response in us.

What underlies all of this is that you have to have a reason to feel positive emotions, and that reason is almost always on the outside of us.

Outside events can be very significant and some are very negatively impacting. That’s true, some are, but all of them are not.

And even for those that are, you will learn that managing your emotional responses and building up a reservoir will make you much more capable of handling outside events.

The key to being able to do this really lies in where you spend the majority of your time– in an UpSpiral or a DownSpiral, or waffling back and forth in between the two.

Learning to live in an UpSpiral of positivity greatly enhances your ability to experience positivity, and positive emotions greatly increase the probability that you will play less to outside events as the “cause” of your feelings. Life in the UpSpiral also gives you the fullest access to your strengths.

In an UpSpiral, there is a much greater probability that you will feel the positive emotions that you choose to feel.

© Dr. William K. Larkin

 

Positivity…More Than Just A Smiley Face

Positive emotion and affect have evolved within us because they have been so important for our ongoing survival, especially the great bursts of growth in evolution and culture. If positivity were not so very important, it would by natural selection become less and less as we have evolved.

To the contrary, positive emotion has become increasingly important to the survival of the species. Positive emotion has remained around precisely because it is the creative source of ongoing evolution. Negativity and fight-flight is a warning system that has kept us protected, but it is the positive emotional states that are responsible for unfolding, ongoing creation.

Here is the short case for positivity.

You either live most of the time in an UpSpiral of positivity, in a DownSpiral of negativity, or, like most people, yo-yoing up and down. The goal in our work is very simple. It is to enable you to get you into an UpSpiral and its benefits, and to get you to keep you there, at a high level of “feeling good,” most of the time.

We aren’t aiming for bliss or ecstasy; just “feeling good” most all of the time. You will learn how to manage and have great agility over positivity in such a way that you will develop positive emotional muscle and have a mastery over the use of positive emotion. Do the work and the work will work for you.

Here are just a few of the benefits of positive emotions from the recognizied research in the field.

Positive emotion enlarges the scope of attention. It broadens your personal access to strengths and increases your choice of options and behavior from your own larger repertoire. Negativity creates a sense of being trapped with no choices because it narrows focus and attention. Positive emotion increases intuition and creativity. Positive emotion changes our body systems and increases immune system response.

Positive affect predicts good mental and physical health outcomes. It is predictive of increased happiness, stronger resilience to the negative, psychological growth and lower levels of cortisol, as well as reduced inflammation in response to stress. Positive emotion is correlated with resistance to sinus infections and reductions in stroke. Positivity predicts how long people will live.

Positive affect means that you will solve problems more easily, be more creative, and have greater access to the higher functions of strengths and to their range. People stronger in positive emotion score higher on every test of well-being, every test of life satisfaction, and there is increase of healthy functioning at a cellular level.

And the list could go on and on.

© Dr. William K. Larkin

Copyright © 2015 The Applied Neuroscience Institute