The UpSpiral Of The Well-Lived Life

What is an UpSpiral? 

An UpSpiral is a term that describes ascending and increasing positive emotion that has an energy, and that energy is always increasing. Once you are in the spiral, you can go higher and higher.

The energy of the UpSpiral is one that increases health, problem-solving ability, life-satisfaction, well-being, attention, creativity, and intuition. It is a place of optimism and hope.

The energy of the spiral pulls you higher in both mood and feeling state. You will feel “on top of it,” in control, in charge of your own self, and empowered to be and do the things that make you feel personally significant. The UpSpiral describes increasing positivity being, which includes positive thinking, positive emotion, positive moods, flow, positive planning, visioning, and living the well-lived life.

In a DownSpiral just the opposite is true. It is the experience that is cumulative, that things are “on top of me.”  It is an experience of an increasing sense of oppression.  The DownSpiral probably starts with some innocent complaining or negativity, which moves to judging someone, then to blaming someone else, then to thinking about who has crossed you, to anger, then to mulling and nursing this feeling of anger. Your face has dropped, there is no smile, your eyes are probably not focused on the outside world, and there is an internalized sense of heaviness.

The DownSpiral is different for everyone, but it expects that things are bad and will get worse. It is focused on problems and not solutions. It is filled with worry, dread, and anxiety. Eventually it leads to depression, flat lining, the sense that nothing has any real meaning, and at the bottom there is a sense of despondency and dread. 

The DownSpiral is a place of dread and disease.  People who live in the DownSpiral more than the UpSpiral have twice the chance of a heart attack or stroke.

We can always make the choices that keep us in an UpSpiral rather than a DownSpiral. We can be better at making the choices that keep us in an UpSpiral. 

You can learn to make the decision to stay in an UpSpiral, regardless of the events outside of you.

Aren’t there some events, like grieving and loss, that have to be done in the DownSpiral? 

No, there are not. Even grief and loss can be experienced in an UpSpiral of positivity, when it is not clouded with guilt. It simply depends on how we choose to view death and how we grieve the death of another. All of the feelings of love, peace, gratitude, joy, and hope especially belong to loss. There may well be feelings of sadness, anger, and loss, but they don’t have to be the only feelings.

If the focus is on memories of goodness, there can be gratitude. There can be a focus on the things that give us joy.

We are always growing neuropathways according to our experience. In learning to live in an UpSpiral, you are changing the structure of the neuropathways in your brain. They will begin to line up differently.

Every thought you think and every feeling you feel are affecting the structure of your brain. We are literally becoming what we think and feel.

As you develop and use new more powerful neuropathways of positivity, the old ones are going to find themselves in a kind of “neuroplastic war.” The old neuropathways die a slow death.  Literally they are deprived of oxygen and glucose as they cease to be used, and they will fight back to live.

Once you encounter the concept that there is an UpSpiral and a DownSpiral, and that it can be quantified by your own subjective experience, life is never quite the same in terms of how you view it.  That is because you now have a way of seeing your experience that you didn’t have before. You know whether or not you are in an UpSpiral and you know when you are in a DownSpiral, and are not doing the things you need to do to get out of it and stay out of it.

Your choices have been increased by a new way of looking at your own experience. And once you have spent more time in the UpSpiral, you aren’t going to want to be anywhere but there again. You will learn what you need to learn to stay there, and you will do what you have to do to be in a better-feeling place that is within your grasp.

This is an enormous piece of personal empowerment.

You always know that the choice about where you want to be in the UpSpiral is yours, not external events.  Even though there can be things that drag us down, we know we don’t want to stay there.

About the author

Dr. William K. Larkin

Copyright © 2015 The Applied Neuroscience Institute