Archive - May 2010

The Good Ship “Honey Dipper”
The UpSpiraLife 12 Step Group: A New 12 Steps For A New Millenium
The Second Half Of Life: Mastery And Agility Of Positive Emotional States And “Positivity Being”
Mindfulness Is Just The New Wrapping
Negative Emotion And Mastering Positive Emotion Power And Agility
In Memoriam: Judith F. Libby

The Good Ship “Honey Dipper”

I was drivHoney_Dipper.jpging down the road and noticed a strange looking tank truck ahead of me with the words, “The Good Ship Honey Dipper” written across the back. What was this honey this “ship” was dipping into, I wondered? I soon found out when I finally got around to the side of the truck, where I read the rest of the advertisement for pumping services for sewage tanks and septic systems.

One man’s sewage is another man’s honey. It’s all in the way you look at what can be “honey.” In an UpSpiral we can look around us and see the honey. We can create, have new ideas, and know that any difficulty or problem is a gift in disguise. As trite as it sounds, if one man can maShift_Happens2.jpgke honey out of another’s man’s sewage, you know that the world is a world of perspective and creative solutions to what might look like “sewage” at first sight.

I love the bumper sticker “s*** happens” because it reminds me that miraculous, creative, spirit-alive, ingenious solutions also happen. It just isn’t on a bumper sticker…..yet.

Where are the difficulties and probArrow_Up.JPGlems in your life and what do you want to make of them? How are they pointing you in the direction of a solution? How can they make you ask questions that lead to a better life? What is there to learn from every difficulty or loss? Get up in the UpSpiral, learn what your strengths have to tell you, and when you get to a higher level in your UpSpiral, then open yourself up to new ways and new things.

You can only see “sewage” in a DownSpiral. In an UpSpiral, as your perspective changes, you get to see the honey.


The UpSpiraLife 12 Step Group: A New 12 Steps For A New Millenium

The UpSpiraLife GroupSpiral38.jpg is an outreach of the Applied Neuroscience Institute. Its purpose is to create a culture and fellowship of positivity, in which individuals grow into an UpSpiral of the positively lived life, characterized by positive self-discovery and personal renewal. There is no charge for participation in the group, but donations are accepted to further the work of creating happier, more fulfilled, and more well-lived lives around the world.

You can read the testimonials of people who have participated and see how their lives have flourished.

UpSpiraLife Groups are not politically oriented, and are not aligned with other groups or affiliations. The UpSpiraLife group is not group counseling or group psychotherapy, and its aim is not healing disorders, illness, or personal problems. While that may be a benefit of participation, it is not the intent or purpose of the group.

Our aim is to enrich the quality of the optimally well-lived life by providing an opportunity for sharing insights and developing concrete strategies leading to a happier and more fulfilled life.

The new Twelve Steps and the Twelve Promises are aimed not only toward positive thinking, but also the growth and integration of positive feelings and emotions that create a flourishing and thriving life.CHANGE2.jpg

Read the Twelve Steps and the Twelve Promises.

UpSpiral groups meet in person and on bridgeline calls comprised of people from all over the country. Members follow a simple format and pledge confidentiality, assuring a safe and secure environment.

What are the benefits of growing in an UpSpiral of positivity?

1. You will increase the experience of the well-lived life.
2. You are more creative.
3. You feel better.
4. You can better manage your state of mind -what we call SOMM -State of Mind Management.
5. Your life satisfaction increases.
6. Your sense of well-being increases.
7. You attract more of what you want into your life.
8. You learn faster.
9. Your intelligence and approach to life improve due to what is called “broadening and building.”
10. You flourish in an UpSpiral.
11. You experience better health.
12. You are happier.
13. You have a reservoir of positive emotion that makes you more resilient in the face of negativity and the problems of life.
14. You project less negatively and you see yourself and others in a more positive a likeable light.
15. You forgive more easily.
16. You can better play to your “strengths.”
17. You are better at setting goals and accomplishing them.
18. You have a greater sense of connectedness to yourself and others.
19. You grow in a sense of personal significance; your meaning making system becomes more solid, “felt,” and experienced in your life.

How do yoCreativity3.jpgu join an UpSpiral group?

1. Read the first two chapters of the book Growing the Positive Mind.
2. Take the “Positive Mind Test” on our website so you know what your score is before you start.
3. Watch a 62 minute video, “The UpSpiral and the Emotional Gym,”  free of charge, on our website.

For more information, or to register, send us an e mail by logging on to our website at and clicking on the “Contact” Tab.





The Second Half Of Life: Mastery And Agility Of Positive Emotional States And “Positivity Being”

Midlife_Blooms2.jpgThere are developmental stages in the second half of life that are as significant and life-changing as those of the first 10 years of life. In fact, these developmental changes rival “adolescence” in their capacity to form us and to change our lives for the better. What value is there is an extended life span only to be lived trapped by the emotional cycles of the first half of life?

One of the primary tasks of the second half of life, especially if it has gone unlearned in the first half, is the management and mastery of positive states of emotion. Positive states of emotion have not gotten a lot of attention. We really haven’t even considered them and they are certainly not a part of our education. What has gotten the attention are the negative states of emotion that are their opposite; these are the things that get carried into counseling and therapy with the idea that undoing the negative will solve the problem. It never will, because the problem has been seen backwards. The problem is the absence of the agility and mastery to create, maintain, and manage positive states of emotion. We are usually lousy at it because we have not known anything about it, much less how to do it.Brain62.jpg

This is the significant developmental issue of our time.

Positive emotion is not positive thinking. Positive states of emotion have much more to do with learned ways of managing emotion than with thinking thoughts. It has much more to do with feeling “feelings.” It has to do with generating positive emotion, directing positive emotion (even to exact targets), and the agility with positive emotion that keeps you from going down paths of thought and memory that are not productive.

The positive thinking cults can actually be harmful to creating the ability to foster and nurture -to actually live in and live from– positive emotional being. Positive emotional being is, though, a part of what has been called resilience training, but it is broader and less formidable. Positive thinking, that is only compartmentalized defensiveness attached to and drummed by spiritual belief systems, is debilitating. It has actually helped to create a good deal of the disdain for “positive emotional being.”

We have been entrenched in the idea, largely through ignorance, that positive states of emotion like joy, emotion, happiness, and peace happen TO us. We tend to believe that they are created and generated, if not by outside realities, then Midlife_Meaning.jpgby the deep workings of a dynamic unconscious that will or will not give them up to us. We have good days and bad days, not because we engineer them emotionally, but because we react to events outside of us or because of our dreams or what we ate or how we slept, as if these events had the power to determine our day. We are subjects of the whims of our emotions, rather than the masters of them.

Others tell us that our emotions are only indicators, only a kind of biofeedback system of how everything else is working. Emotions are only partially systems of feedback. They are also states of mind that we can create and live in. And you can be sure that the emotions that we live in, more than anything else, create our sense of daily, on-going identity. Most of our emotion does not happen to us. Most of our emotion is intended to be created by us. Emotion and feeling are far too important in development and identity to be left to chance and whim.

That is why, developmentally, the health of the second half of your life depends upon your ability and agility with creating and managing positive states of emotion. We call it State of Mind management, but whatever it is called, it is a developmental task of the second half of life.

Positive emotional being and its mastery and agility have to be learned. It does not come to us automatically, especially not in this culture of negativity. HoweveCosmos2.jpgr, every culture in history has been negative, more or less, for the sake of survival. “Fight or flight” was thought to be the only way to handle threat. Not only is flight or flight not the only way, it is often a very detrimental way of handling threat which only escalates it. The positive responses of positivity being can be much more effective. The evidences in this global pond ripple through everything.

Positivity being emerges as our life span increases and presents itself as a central task in the quality of life of the extended years of life. It is a developmental task of the second half of life.

Mindfulness Is Just The New Wrapping

Mindfulness Mindfullness2.jpgis the new way of talking about the effects and benefits of meditation, in one form or another, without grounding it in a religious or spiritual tradition or as a religious practice. It really means the ability to use one's mind to gain agility in handling one's brain and its automatic and even sometimes autonomic way of operating. Meditation, now mindfulness, so we can get its benefits into public schools and other places, helps us loosen ourselves from our attachment to automatic thinking and boring, learned usual feelings, and to back off from them so we have more control over them and greater freedom from stress, anger, rage and just feeling flat.

It helps us to tap into the very real inner reservoir within us that is love, peace, gratitude, joy and hope. There is a sweet, simple, better way and you don't have to sell out to a church, yoga, centering, past life regression, or breath work or any other kind of “woo-woo” to get there. It's very simple. You just learn to go for it.

In “mindfulness,” the attention is still on the cognitive or “thinking” processes of the brain. And given to the academicians and researchers, it has to become complex. It takes a lot of complexity to explain something that is very simple. And mindfulness is very, very simple. It's not that mindfulness doesn't work. It is just very tedioEmotions2.jpgus and boring. It does, though, make those who are “mindful” seem especially enlightened. Unfortunately, carpenters, mechanics, and blue collar-workers are not always inclined to go there. Neither are active people who have trouble sitting still and counting their breathing. Silent retreats don't tend to work for the chatty or for the person who has to work everyday to meet the rent.

There is a short-cut that it is not just a short-cut. It is the way to go. Try it and see. At the end of the day, all of this amounts to what you can and can't do with your emotions. Your emotions are parts of your state of mind that can be increasingly managed. The five most important ones are gratitude, love, peace, joy and hope. The meditators and the mindfulness folks hope that you will find some way of managing your thoughts that will eventually create some experience with love, joy, peace, gratitude, and hope and that you will become less stressed and less bitchy.

Here's where we stand. Why not just go for the emotions and the state of mind that you want? If the idea is to bypass all the thinking and cognitive “rigamarole,” why not just do it? You can create them, you can practice them, you can master them and you can have great agility over these positive emotions. Go right for love, peace, gratitude, joy and hope. Go for growing and developing positive emotional “muscle” that will let you get to love or joy instantly. Sound like a tall order? This mastery and agility with positiveEmotions_Positive2.jpg emotion will give much, much more control over negative emotion.

We have the proof that it can be done. They are the actual people who make up the statistics; that is our proof. And you can be our proof, because you can do this too. You can get to joy immediately, if you learn to do it. (I swear you can.) You can make joy last (duration) if you learn to do it. If you by-pass the thinking mind (which is the big deal with mindfulness) and you go straight for the emotion, it's like the short-cut on your computer. You can push your button and you are there. We know. We do it every day with everyday people -our everyday mystics who are also soccer moms.

Inside of you, I promise, exists the state of love, peace, gratitude, joy and hope. You just have to start tripping the switch that will turn them on, and turn them on you can. And you can do it in a relatively short amount of time. You can experience results in a week. Even the research shows that to be true.

You are, inside of you, at your very core, love, peace, gratitude, joy, peace and hope. These states live inside of you and they are waiting for you to say hello to them and let them out. We can teach you how to increase your UpSpiral Score, which means to grow in “feeling good,” and to exercise these positive emotional muscles. We can teach to grow positive emotional muscle with enough skill and agility that you have “mindfulness” at your command. Balloons4.jpg

This is all about doing our Emotional Gym. All of these states of mind are like little shriveled up balloons on the inside of you. When you start to practice, it's like blowing up a very “tight” balloon. Some people are tighter than others because they haven't felt joy in 20 years. They've been waiting for it to “hit” them from outside rather than realize that they have to mine for it on the inside.


It's all within you and you can be full of love, peace, gratitude, joy and hope because you already are. It's like mining for gold; the gold is there– you just have to know how to reach it.


Welcome to the mindfulness of the new millennium. It's super easy and you'll be super successful, even if you're a crank, ornery and a crab. If you dLotus3.jpgo the work we can teach you. Mindfulness? Yes, but it's just the same old thing with new a new wrap. Let us get you to the real stuff much quicker and teach you how to stay there.


Yes, yes, I know. The people who cross their legs are not going to like this anymore than the people who make the white baggy outfits you're supposed to do this in. Neither are the people who make candles, bells, scents, music that make you fall asleep, and those who teach you to breath six different ways. The people who teach you to go into past lives are not going to like it all -can you imagine having to deal with more than one lifetime? Give me a break. None of this is wrong. It can be helpful, fun, and very healthy, but it's not essential to mindfulness. Honestly, this is something you can do on the toilet, in the shower, and when the bastard on the highway cuts you off. In fact, as you learn to do it at those moments, you will start to become a “master.”


But wait a minute, they are yelling. “What about going deeper and deeper?” Screw deeper, let's talk in terms of “better” and “feeling good.” The Emotional Gym teaches you to go deeper, to get to an emotion instantly (you can do it, I promise.) Then learn to make it last for a while (duration.) I promise you can do it. Finally, incBreathe2.jpgrease the feeling you choose to feel it at a higher level for a while (intensity.) That, too, I promise you can do. I have never met anyone who couldn't learn to do this -and without the mat and the incense -or fancy words like “mindfulness.”

Now, take a deep breathe, exhaPromises3.gifle slowly, and thank whatever god you believe in (or don't) that you can feel, gratitude, love, peace, joy and hope with great mastery and agility (even over negative emotion) and that your life can move to a level, really quite simply, that you didn't think was possible. We can show you how.


I promise!


Negative Emotion And Mastering Positive Emotion Power And Agility

Negative affect (emotion) and positive affect are not opposites on the same continuum. Negativity6.jpgYou do not necessarily decrease negative affect by increasing positive affect. For the sake of simplicity, they are different nerve impulses using different neuropathways. While it is true that you cannot be positive and negative at the same time, that is to say at the very same time, it is possible to go from one to the other in rather rapid succession.

Negative emotion seems to be just “under our skin,” no matter how positive we try to become. And that’s because negative emotion is and always will be very close to us. It is our warning system. The key is learning to guide your positive emotion with greater capacity and agility, to exercise more choice over having them.

Positive thinking, as good as it can be, is no guarantee of this capacity. You can think positively all you want and not necessaDenial3.jpgrily affect your negative feelings. In fact, it may be a hindrance if it is rooted in the denial of negative emotion as a warning system or even as a reflective guide. The biggest problem with negative emotion is that no one has ever told us that it is essential to our happiness and well-being to master positive emotion.

It seems to be confounding to say, however, that the longer you experience positive emotion, the less likely you are, over time, to experience as much negative emotion. What is important to realize here is that different brain mechanisms are at work in the play of either of these emotions. You can learn to manage both of them.

Negative emotions win out with their immediacy. Negative emotions are “now” emotions and positive emotions are more associated with the long-term. Negative emotions are sharper in the “now” than positive ones. Positive emotions are more important and significant over the long-term. Positive emotion can remake who you are beginning at any point in your lifetime. It is just that powerful. But it is just as possible to allow negative emotions to rule your eAmygdala3.jpgntire life.

Because we have regarded emotions for so long only as “reactive,” there is little research on long-term practiced positive emotion. In fact, no one has really thought much about practicing positive emotional states as a discipline or as a practice. We have just generally had much more practice with negative emotions than positive ones. It is likely that no one has said to us, “go out and practice feeling love, peace, joy, gratitude or hope” because we have usually always just waited for them to happen to us.

There are, of course, spiritual admonishmBiceps3.jpgents to keep our thoughts on good and positive things, but there has been no really concerted effort, at least not popularized, to practice and grow positive emotions with anything like a “workout.” Pecs, breasts and bubble butts have been much more important as a way to happiness. If you are an exercise buff, take a deep breath here; you can have both, but you have to work at each of them. We can even show you how to do both of them at the same time.

There are tChoice7.jpgwo things that are essential. The first is to decide that you can and want to have more positive emotion in your life–that it is absolutely essential to your health and well-being. The second is to work-out in our Emotional Gym. Make your agility and ability with positive emotion second nature. We can show you how.

In Memoriam: Judith F. Libby


Today I pulled out a tiny red silk container with a zipper about two inches wide, unzipped it, and pulled out a smooth stone that Judith gave me as a gift when she received her License as a VisioNavigator coach. I had entirely forgotten that there was a word inscribed in gold on the stone. It said, “Imagine,” and as I looked at it and held it, I could see Judith’s face, her smile and her eyes, just like the picture posted here (which was taken by her classmate Ken Horst when she received her License). She had reached across time and human death to make her point and deliver her message to me. It’s especially profound for me because I know that Judith believed in me. It was just the way she looked at me. She made me “be” better by her being.

I believe that Judith looked at everyone in that very same way. She may not have grasped every concept I taught, but she had the consummate gift of the “coach” -she believed in people. In fact, she believed in the people she coached, some of whom I probably would have told to “take a hike.” There were, as I know her, no “strays,” either people or animals, in Judith’s life. She took them all into her heart and into her home. But Judith was not a “pushover.” She possessed an inner standard from which I never saw her depart. It was her way of seeing and knowing reality and I always found her true to it, although we never talked about what it was. I know it was there because she just didn’t go along with everything in the world around her. She much preferred to stick to her “guns.” She had no intention of making herself “fit” for very long when the fit just wasn’t right for her.

I will always know Judith for exactly the kindness, the compassion and the love that the picture above so well communicates. It was just her. Judith was her strengths. These are hers from the VIA assessment we use to test strengths:

Fairness, equity, and justice
Appreciation of beauty and excellence
Curiosity and interest in the world
Bravory and valor
Honesty, authenticity, and genuiness

What an apt description they are.

And yes, Judith, I will continue to “imagine” even more.

Thank you for sharing a part of your life with me and the entire ANI community.

–Dr. William K. Larkin

Copyright © 2015 The Applied Neuroscience Institute