Category - Blog

Life As A “Flow” Experience
Need The Balance Of Negativity?
Our Strengths As Our Values?
The “Idle, Daydreaming” Brain
Are You Too Optimistic?
Your Strengths Are Your “Values”
The UpSpiral of Your Life
Positive Emotions, By Choice
The Sanctuary of Positivity
Positive Emotions: Inroads To Consciousness

Life As A “Flow” Experience

Flow Brained


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.

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

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

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

Your thoughts 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 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.

The words we use, the conversations we have, and the images and programs we take in have the power to create a DownSpiral of negativity that releases cortisol, a major stress hormone, adrenaline, thyroxin (long-term adrenalin), and ACTH, the body’s basic stress response.

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 the “feel good” chemicals and gives you distance, perspective and it adds to the neuropositive reservoir.

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.

© Dr. William K. Larkin 

Need The Balance Of Negativity?



Illustration of positive and negative. Plus and minus.Does “happy” sound trite to you?

Need the “balance” of the negative?

You would neither be afraid of facing what is negative or need to deny that the negative is everywhere if you were grounded in what an increased capacity for positive emotion means for your brain and for you.

It is not a matter of just changing your thinking and it is not a matter of just being happy.

You do not live where you think, you live where you feel, and in the “incubator” of your experiences that produces the state of mind or feeling state that you’re in.

The life of positive emotion in us, freely accessible and lived, is like good nutrition as opposed to eating frozen dinners.

We find our lives of creativity and meaning in our capacity for positive emotion and in learning to live from it.

For most folks, the enlarged capacity for positive emotion is a foreign idea they assume they understand.

Your enlarged and engaged life of contentment and satisfaction is grounded in your capacity for positive emotion.

It is not grounded in resolving your past mistakes or conflicts. Your negativity is grounded there.

That negativity waits, hopes, and breathes in anticipation that you will try to “work through” your defensive, negative armour and be engaged for years in resolution of your issues.

While at the same time, in another part of your brain, the capacity for positive emotion, growth, increased options, thriving, and flow waits patiently in your life.

The increased experience of enlarging the capacity for positive emotion engages the brain in a process that creates transition and moving into a whole new structure of consciousness that stops using what doesn’t work.

It unearths, one day a time, the defensive behavior that doesn’t fit the nature of positive emotion and its perception of what the new options and new strengths can do.

People change when they feel safe, they do not change when they experience threat, at least not over the long term.

© Dr. William K. Larkin 




Our Strengths As Our Values?


Our signature strengths, the top five big ones that we can test to identify, are expressed as values, our “core values.”

What a concept.

Let’s think about values.

They are standards or guides to how we are most who we are.

When we live most consistently aligned to our values, a way of life that is most expressive of our true nature is formed.

Our valuing takes the form of these strengths as one of the strongest indicators and answer to the question, “Who am I?”

I have never heard a person who has found out what their strengths are ever ask, “Who am I?”

They know.

Take any problem you think you have and talk to your strengths.

Yes, have a dialogue with one or more of your strengths.

Ask of it, “with this or that in my life, how do I apply this strength? What does this strength have to tell me, teach me?”

How have I created my world from this strength that is also a value? And where in my world am I furthest from its expression or truth?

Where you are closest, you will be happiest, most content and grounded in easy joy.

Where you are far enough a way from this strength, you will find how you devalue yourself and your life and live in a disembodied and compromised life.

It will usually be experienced as anxiety, flat lining, or even depression.

The fundamental expression of a strength as a life value is as a lens to filter out what doesn’t fit and the delusion that allows it to remain.

Our strengths seek the restoration of the truth of who we are and provides the joy that results. It restores our presence to ourselves and to others.

As you dialog with your strengths, can you hear this message…?

“I fill my shoes and they are solid to the ground, my gait is centered with my posture and it is sure. I am firm footed. I sit in my seat, I fit and I am there, present. I am a part of the beauty and excellence I see accurately around me.”

I am learning to embody my strengths, to go beyond an intellectualized understanding of what they are, and to live in them, with clarity and connectedness I can feel.

© Dr. William K. Larkin 

The “Idle, Daydreaming” Brain


The brain is never idle and never inactive.  The brain is always at work, especially when we sleep.

Today I went to one of my favorite places, the 99 cent store, to pick up one thing. I went in without a list and I spent $34.00 on 34 things.

I’m happy to report that I DID get the one thing I went to get.  I have gone to the store without a list and come home with several things except what I went for.

That’s a simple story, but the lesson is there -the brain needs a list or a specific goal in focus or it shops everywhere for everything.

We need to tell the brain what we want it to do, we need to have focus and attention, and we need to practice that focus and attention so we can stay on track.  That includes “idle time”.  We think that daydreaming is idle time, but the brain is still working.

Studies show us that idle time, where the brain can wander can be creative.  However, if the thoughts of the brain go in a negative direction, the result is anxiety, dread, fear or discomfort -the sense of threat at some level.  That moves us into the sympathetic nervous system of “threat” or fight/flight, our cortisol rises and the hormones of stress kick into gear.

Thyroxin, which is long-term adrenaline, can stay in the system as long as 4 days.  Idle time spent daydreaming that goes in a negative direction is not healthy.

My advice is that daydreaming is fine as long as you manage it and keep it going in a positive direction, and that will be more creative.

Daydreaming that goes off in a negative direction is like going to a store where there is nothing you need, lots of things you don’t need and bringing the especially bad things home.

My critics will say that the negative day-dreaming brings up issues that need to be resolved.  I disagree.  I think that’s not true.

Negative issues that need to be addressed are those that continue to rise up in us in one way or another.

If we get everyday needless negative feelings out of the way and build up a positive reservoir, the truly negative things will focus because you will have a greater sense of security (safety) in allowing them to do so from this more positive base that we have built.

It is often the negative feelings of an idle brain that creates rumination, worrying, dream and a sense of threat.

© Dr. William K. Larkin 

Are You Too Optimistic?


Can you be?

Some studies claim that too much optimism can be dangerous and cause overly risky behavior.

You can always find a study somewhere that will take the air out of your balloon.

So is the answer to be more pessimistic or more effectively optimistic?

How’s this?

Is it better to DownSpiral until you feel more negatively, find things wrong with most everything else in the process, and narrow your focus and your options?

Or claim that positive energy, and be more effectively and efficiently optimistic?

Pessimism or more negativity is not the answer. Your brain is more naturally optimistic than pessimistic; it’s necessary for evolution.

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

You don’t have to check your optimism at the door in favor digging for a little pessimism.

You don’t have to move from safety to feeling threat to manage your optimism.

If you are building castles in the air, use the same creativity and imagination to put foundations underneath the ones that mean the most to you.

Pessimism narrows your options and full access to your strengths.

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.

And you can be sure they are there if you know your scientifically tested strengths.

Your Strengths are your performance tools. You use them when you encounter challenges.

They are like the fuel in your car.

In certain situations, you may need to accelerate and use more fuel to increase your speed.

Your strengths provide you with that “performance boost” in any and every situation of your life.

How you regard your strengths and what you are willing to do with them is like the decision to eat or not eat good food.

You can get by on the junk food of your weaknesses, but what builds your sense of self and very directly the happiness you experience, is your decision to flex the muscles of your strengths, to use them more and more, and to put yourself in situations where they are used.

Strengths move you toward life and aliveness. Playing to weaknesses moves you toward deterioration.

It starts with feeling disconnected and moves to feeling disengaged, disenchanted, unappreciated, unseen, unnoticed. Feeling unappreciated appears as the State of Mind of loneliness.

That’s usually the place where we start looking for someone else to fill the absence of ourselves that we have created.

When you engage your strengths in an UpSpiral of feeling good, you are meeting challenges head on, from the higher ground of your real self.

© Dr. William K. Larkin 





Your Strengths Are Your “Values”



Strengths are also called virtues and values because of their fundamental importance. They are your ways of “being” who you really are. They are your “mental compass.”

These superhighways of neuropathways are unique to you and they are the only ones that you can travel and be who you really are.

Your values, as your strengths, are who you are. Get off the highway and some voice within you, rst of all your feelings, will start to give you messages that you need to change your direction, make a turn, take the next exit and go back – just as surely as the GPS system for a car won’t give up until you’re on the right track.

The greater your alignment, your consistency and your focus is on your strengths, the more in alignment with your Real Self you are going to feel.

You will feel more in sync, more in control, more in harmony, more like you are “in your own skin.”

It is when we play to our weaknesses that we begin to feel “out of sync,” disconnected, out of alignment, anxious, frustrated, and in a state of discord.

The more you use your strengths, that are also your basic values and virtues, the happier you will be.

Restless, listless, out-of-sync, unsettled and out of your own skin; these are the word that describe us when we are not playing to our strengths. They are the things we experience when we are playing to our weaknesses.

When you know your strengths (because they have been scientifically tested) it’s easier to play to your strengths so long as you stay in an UpSpiral.

In a DownSpiral or when we are down spiraling, we will not play to our strengths, but rather to their opposites, which are our weaknesses or our character defects.

The opposites of our strengths are wonderful things because they warn us by feeling restless, listless, out-of-sync, unsettled, bored, irritable, and frustrated. The more we play to our weaknesses the worse these things get.

Your weaknesses that are the opposite of your strengths are uniquely yours. Only you really know what they are.

Take a piece of paper and list your strengths, then list what is the opposite of that strength for you.

How does the weakness side of the strengths show up for you?

What is your unique way of doing and “being” the opposite of your strengths, your VALUES?

© Dr. William K. Larkin 

The UpSpiral of Your Life



What Is An UpSpiral?

It is living at a higher quality of life by managing the ups and downs of life more effectively. The research is overwhelmingly clear.

It is creating a mood predisposition and it is State of Mind Management (SOMM). It is living more up than down by using the power of your choice and learning the ways to do it.

An UpSpiral ranges from a conviction, a belief in a life imbued with optimistic, and being generally “on top of it.”

The DownSpiral is just the opposite, a belief in helplessness and victimhood. At its lowest point, it is despondency and despair, characterized by pervasive pessimism.


Most people live far lower in the UpSpiral than they need to be, and most people yo-yo between being somewhere in the UpSpiral and somewhere in the DownSpiral.

We have come to believe that this up- and-down is a normal part of life, when, in fact, it is just learned behavior.

We have far more choice and ability to remain in an UpSpiral that we usually know or believe.

Is it possible to be very high in an UpSpiral all of the time?

First, our research for the last dozen years shows us that people can live in an UpSpiral most all of the time, once they learn how to do it.

Second, it is also fair to say that we can live somewhere in the UpSpiral all of the time; that DownSpiral experiencing isn’t really necessary. We may not always be high up in the Spiral, but we can always be living life somewhere with the belief that we are indeed living an UpSpiral life.

Despair and the narrowing of depression aren’t necessary. It doesn’t have to be.

We live by this myth that there are ups and downs in life and that they are largely created by external events.

The truth is that, for the most part, there are external events to which we respond and our response to these events determines where we are in the Spiral, not the event itself.

Either you are a victim of a difficulty or you are stripping a problem of everything it has to teach you and becoming stronger and wiser.

Or you are learning to let one door close so another can open.

100% is the promise of our work. 100% of your time in an UpSpiral.

You’re learning the skills of the UpSpiral, you can learn them so well never to be in a DownSpiral. The oppression of the DownSpiral is a choice that is learned over a lifetime, but it can be unlearned and our time does not have to be spent there.

© Dr. William K. Larkin 


Positive Emotions, By Choice


Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor suffered a debilitating stroke and she talks about re-learning to “feel” positive emotion. She calls it her “stroke of insight,”

“One of the greatest lessons I learned was how to feel the physical component of emotion. Joy was a feeling in my body. Peace was a feeling in my body. I thought it was interesting that I could feel when a new emotion was triggered. I could feel new emotions flood through me and then release me. I had to learn new words to label these “feeling” experiences, and most remarkably, I learned that I had the power to choose whether to hook into a feeling and prolong its presence in my body, or just let it quickly flow right out of me.”

This is an astounding description of what we teach in our Emotional Gym, that you can create and choose what emotions you want to feel, you make them last, and you can intensify them, and, what is most important, you can teach yourself to do this and at any time during your life span.

Dr. Taylor could feel these experiences happening again in her body as she recovered and realized that they were there by her choice or not.

You can do the same except that you are fortunate enough that you haven’t needed a stroke to teach you that this is true.

Take one of 5 emotions and make each day of the week associate with an emotion.

Monday is peace, Tuesday is love, Wednesday is gratitude, Thursday is joy and Friday is hope. Your choice.

Then choose to feel those emotions all day long. You will be astounded at what you can create in your brain.

You will be even more astounded when you realize that you have the power to give a positive emotion the duration you choose, and that you can intensify that emotion by your choice and your practice.

The next time you feel joy, the promise here is that you can feel twice that amount of joy, if you will allow yourself to learn to go there.

The Dharmsala Monks are able to lower or raise their body temperatures by 15 or more degrees, “on-call” as a result of meditating. Think about the power of raising or dropping your own body temperature 15 degrees in the heat or the cold. It would be quite an energy savings over a year.

This is a startling example of our ability to direct and intensify “energy”. If we would increase the intensity of our feeling of love 15 degrees and direct it and measure its impact on a particular target “person” or target “situation” what we might find.

We are only beginning to understand the implications of what we can do with positive emotion.

But we know this, as surely as you can go to a negative emotion instantly and be “wounded”, and as long as you stay there nursing your wound, and as much as you can intensify the wound over time; so can you do that with positive emotion.

We can get to a positive emotion in an instant, we can stay there as long as we choose, and we can intensify it.

Admit it, you do it with negatives; this is the promise that you can do the same with positive emotions.

© Dr. William K. Larkin 

The Sanctuary of Positivity

A sanctuary is a place of reserve, of preservation, and of safety. We find safety in a sanctuary that is a place for the preservation of something highly significant, like personal freedom or rare birds.

A sanctuary of positivity is a wholly new concept because we haven’t yet revered positivity.

Positivity is something we squander, waste, and disregard as something like a fleeting experience we hope we might get, perhaps, so long as it doesn’t get in the way of several other things on our schedules of trying to make life interesting.

The Zeigarnik principle in psychology tells us that we have a lean of 9:2 toward the negative.brain-evolve

We have come to learn that this is because of evolution, because of our development as a human species.

Think about that for a moment. We have nearly conditioned out, in our evolution, the capacity for positivity. Yet it has persistently remained in our DNA.

Not only has it remained, but it is responsible for the creative, ongoing, emergence of the progress of the human species.

Positivity is a primal essential to ongoing creation and evolution. Without it, we die.

Without it we die not only sooner, we die less well, with greater misery and loss of meaning.

Think about it. This precious human resource responsible for the evolution and progress of inventions, great art, great music, great social movements, is the natural human resource that engages, emerges and allows the flow of creativity.

It is this precious resource that we have nearly succeeded in bringing to extinction, and yet it has survived. It is hard to imagine the human race without positivity, even though we have paid really so little attention to it. Positivity is the ground of flourishing.

How is it that such a great natural resource has gone so unnoticed and taken so for granted? We have done it with animals, we have done it with the rain forests, we have done it with energy resources, and we have done it with human life.

The fact that our evolutionary lean is 9:2 in favor of the negative is a staggering realization that we could have come so far. Yet it was not so long ago that one American president said that we would land a man on the moon in 10 years, and we did.

Had that not been said and done in what positivity is, there would have been no man on the moon.

Could we say with great intention that we will change the world in 10 years dedicated to positiivity, bringing such sanctuary to its presence that it becomes revered as the force that puts a man on the moon and ushers in a new world of consciousness not possible in a ratio of 9:2?

In our lifetimes, we intend, by making a sanctuary for positivity, to change that ratio to a positive 3:1 at least, and 5:1 ideally.

There is no imagination capable of knowing what that would mean.

© Dr. William K. Larkin 

Positive Emotions: Inroads To Consciousness




Five emotional states are more than emotion- they are inroads to consciousness.

The positive thinking industry and the positive spirituality industry both make the same mistake.

You can’t get there by positive thinking alone.

The “mask” of positive thinking alone wears you out, makes you feel like a failure or a phoney, and creates denial of real emotions that can otherwise provide direction and contrast.

But emotions are not just “indicators” or “feedback.” They are much, much more.

We try to think positively to “feel better,” but there is a much more rapid way to feeling better and feeling good most of the time.

We can have a great deal more control over emotional states of mind that are faster inroads to inner state of consciousness.

The issue is not positive thinking, whether you spiritualize it or not. The issue is “positive being,” and that is grounded first and foremost in the issue of positive emotion.

Let’s call them “positive states of mind” that are absolutely linked to inner states of spiritual consciousness. Pretend that you have five balloons on the inside of you that are love, peace, gratitude, hope, and joy.

The inner balloons are the shells that hold the outward reality. You’ve got to blow them up and fill them with your outer intentions to feel and experience these things.

You can learn to feel what you want to feel.

Blow up those balloons from outside to the inside. Inflate them with what you feel everyday.

Teach your brain which emotions “rule” and build a reservoir of the positive states of mind on the outside that match the reality of you on the inside.

We call it the Emotional Gym.

What we feel and experience emotionally conditions how we know ourselves to be more than anything else in our experience. And how you know yourself to be is what attracts to you the basic realities of your life.

To discover that we have more control and can have greater mastery over basic emotions is really just something we haven’t considered.

The truth is that emotions and “states of mind” that are negative usually have us, rather than us having them. That’s what we want to turn around.

Positive thinking is not where it’s at, but positive emotional agility and mastery is.

‘Positivity being’ will lead to the inner states of joy, peace, gratitude, love, and hope that everyone wants to experience but has great difficulty getting “in” and staying there.

“Positivity being,” living from the core of the positive place in you, is what we are all looking for. You can learn to live from that place.

You can learn to feel what you want to feel.

© Dr. William K. Larkin 

Copyright © 2015 The Applied Neuroscience Institute