Archive - July 2017

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Positivity…More Than Just A Smiley Face
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Focus on Strengths or Weaknesses?
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Your Perfect Set Of Strengths
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Can You Learn Not To Feel Good?

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

Focus on Strengths or Weaknesses?

Which is it going to be for you?

The power of strengths is the dawning of whole new perspectives in the way that we’re looking at education and personal growth.

The look at strengths inside of you will be the dawning of whole new perspectives. It’s causing whole new perspectives in the way we go about what we’ve called mental health and especially the way in which we’re going about coaching.

One of these perspectives is what we know about the development of “genius.”

We haven’t paid a lot of attention to the growth of genius. Genius comes from encouraging and growing a strength; it never comes from correcting a weakness or from creating a “balanced” person.

We are a culture who loves balanced people, whatever balanced people are, and really all that being a balanced person means. It is what Tom Rath, in his book Vital Friends, calls “rounding,” and it is a way of making gifted people seem “less than” so they are not so threatening.

That means if we’re going to go making you a balanced person, what we’re going to do is look at your weaknesses, and shore up your weaknesses so they’re more in balance with your strengths.

What we teach you to do is just the opposite of that, and that is find your strengths, go with your strengths, and use your strengths to manage the weaknesses, and don’t ever worry about being a “well balanced” person.

Most people are simply ignorant of what their real strengths are.

Part of the reason we’re just beginning to get comfortable with them is because we have a lifetime of being, at least part of the time, in a DownSpiral, and a lifetime of playing to our weaknesses.

We have little or no access to strengths in a DownSpiral, and the deeper down the spiral we go, the lesser is the felt sense of these strengths.

All of us have a lifetime of being told in some way to correct our weaknesses, be a more well-rounded person, be a more balanced person.

We are taught this from the moment we enter the educational system.

The message is: learn to balance your weaknesses, or even obliterate them, so you can be “well rounded” and “balanced.” Nothing could be farther from the truth.

Suppose we decided that in our schools, we’re just going to pay attention to what students really do well first.

That what we’re going to discover and nurture is everything students do really well, not the things they do not do well, so we can compensate for those things and “fix” them.

What if that just happened every day? What if every day was simply another day for you to grasp your strengths and live in them?

What if we gave our kids, partners, spouses, co-workers, everyone in our world, this message: here’s another day for you to use your strengths . . . this is what they are, grow them and develop them. Now go try this and see how you succeed using what you are naturally good at doing.

Yes, we want you to go use and try what you are good at.

That’s very hard to get people to do. It’s a challenge to get people to apply that to their life. But not to do so is one of our greatest threats, both personally and to society at large.

© Dr. William K. Larkin

 

 

 

Your Perfect Set Of Strengths

You will only stay in an UpSpiral of feeling good by using your strengths. Your strengths can take any problem you encounter and give you the skills and answers to work through it, by simply using them.

There is nothing you can encounter that your strengths will not be a match for, bringing you to growth and solutions.

However, it is very easy, especially at first, to forget what your strengths are. In a DownSpiral, your strengths don’t even seem real, if in fact, you can even remember what they are. It is amazing to see a person in a DownSpiral struggle to even name their strengths. And if they do, it is usually reluctantly and disgustedly, as if somehow their strengths don’t work.

There is not a situation in your life that your strengths can’t address. You have a perfect set of them.

If you’ve been through our testing process and you can name your strengths, you are on the path to personal growth.

Instead of concentrating on your weaknesses and trying to change them and getting nowhere, you have learned that by growing your strengths, your weaknesses fall into your ability to manage them effectively.

We have not been conditioned to look to our strengths, but we have been conditioned to remember our weaknesses.

There are even some people who report that they feel guilty when they use their strengths because they were discouraged from doing the things they loved or were good at because it came too easy for them. They were told that they should struggle more. Work didn’t seem like work unless they were doing something that was exhausting, using too much psychic energy, and was an attempt to become good at things that were not their strengths.

Weaknesses are merely the other end of our strengths. In fact, they point to the directions of what our strengths really are.

But from the first red check marks on our school papers, or even before, we have learned what is wrong with us much better than we have learned what is good about us.

Whenever I test a group of people and ask them to write down their strengths, they can usually only list one or two that are actually accurate; they are much better at listing their weaknesses.

Going to a strength, playing to a strength, thinking from a strength is foreign behavior for most people. When we are troubled, stressed and worried or frustrated for very long, it is easy to go to our weaknesses and to play from the opposite end of our strengths. Read the testimonials on our website about people who have learned to play to their strengths.

And then tell us your stories about your encounter with your strengths and how you use them.

You never become a well-balanced or a “whole” person, whatever in the world that might be, by trying to correct your weaknesses.

You become more of who you authentically are by playing to your strengths and letting them guide you to your own inner brilliance.

© Dr. William K. Larkin

Can You Learn Not To Feel Good?

Pessimism is an overwhelming factor in health-related issues and in personal success and achievement. Being tight with money and time makes you tight at the cellular level of your body.

It really is our number one health problem and the greatest deterrent of well-being and life satisfaction.

The answer to research that shows the dangers of optimism is not that you need to be more negative but that you be more effectively positive.

Optimism is a very basic way your perception sees the world. It’s measuring a very elemental thing that started with you genetically and continued with you in your nurturance. It’s a very basic way about the way you see and judge the most elemental events in your world.

Consciousness starts with what we do with the most elemental events in our world.

That’s where we’re going to find out how hopeful we are.

The ego is always going to give itself away, evolve, change and morph and become a “new and different” ego.

But you will recognize when it tells you, “Don’t be proud, be humble, don’t share this with your neighbors, you know, don’t tell everybody about this.” The ego gives itself away when we’re feeling badly.

The ego is giving itself away when we’re feeling negatively. When we’re engaged in believing in the permanence and pervasiveness of bad events, or when we are not giving the good the permanency that it needs or the pervasiveness that it needs, we’re going to experience the ego giving itself away.

We are going to be feeling less than good, or we are going to be feeling the feelings of negativity, feeling the feelings of going into a DownSpiral.

We’re on to one of the central causes of moving into that DownSpiral that is not a fun place and certainly not a healthy place to live.

Pessimism narrows your options and your access to your strengths.

Optimism, on the other hand, is a “force multiplier.” It broadens and builds an UpSpiral mindset.

And here is the key issue: Do you know what your strengths are?

Optimism, especially high levels of optimism that might have a tendency toward impulsiveness, need to be grounded in one of your positive strengths that provide a balance for you in your life.

We learn not to use positive emotion in our lives because of any number of reasons.

I call that “learned-non use of positive emotion.”

We can forget to exercise positive emotion just like we forget to use our muscles or work our bodies.

That’s why we have invented “The Emotional Gym.” It is a way of exercising positive emotion, of keeping it strong and evolving for a life where we are able to feel strong levels of love, peace, gratitude, joy and hope.

© Dr. William K. Larkin

 

Copyright © 2015 The Applied Neuroscience Institute