Archive - August 2013

Feelings Are Not Just Thermometers
NeuroPositivity Isn’t Just The Opposite Of Negativity
Focus & Feelings
Junk Food Happiness

Feelings Are Not Just Thermometers

What Do You WANT to feel?

Are you the victim of your feelings or their Master?

We have been taught that feelings just are, that they have no morality, that what you feel is what you feel and whatever you feel is ok.


Most feelings are learned reactions that we can change.

Feelings do have a morality.

We hurt and do damage to people when we withdraw feelings and when we use feelings as a tool to abuse.

Whatever you feel is not “just ok.” It can harm you and it can harm others.

There are, for sure, feelings that are indicators and thermometers of where we are and what is happening to us. But that is just one of the functions of feelings.

Every feeling you have isn’t a read on the full truth of what is happening to you.

You can be so used to feeling sorry for yourself that you think you deserve it. You can be so used to feeling bored or indifferent that you think that’s just the way things are.

You’re wrong!

There are five feelings that are actually states of mind.

You can build, develop, and strengthen them, and you can be the Master of using them.

We call it State of Mind Management (SOMM).

These states of mind are states of being.

They are within you. You can tap into them because you were made to feel them and “be” them. They will propel you forward to life and cause you to want to grasp and live life more and more fully.

You WILL NOT find them by FOCUSING on your negative feelings.

You will find them by a decision to grow these positive states of mind and “be” them.

Let’s start with gratitude. Gratitude could change the world. Since greed, selfishness and self-absorption cause most of our problems and create most of our suffering, gratitude is the opposite.

I once had a wealthy doctor tell me in his first session with me that he had nothing to be grateful for while his shiny new Bentley sat in my parking lot. I told him to give me his Bentley for three months and when he started to miss it, we would talk about gratitude.

Now he lives in a state of Gratitude everyday.

He has also learned to live in four other States of Mind at his choice and by his will. They are joy, peace, love and hope.

He practices the disciplines of our Emotional Gym™ and grows his positive emotional muscles (he also goes to a nearby gym to grow and tone his physical muscles.) Both of these gyms of growth are important, but The Emotional Gym™ is the most important.

He has learned to do one simple thing. Here it is, for free, today.

On a scale of 1-10, if 1 is a little and 10 is a lot, he has learned to feel Gratitude by his own choice at a 2 or 3 for about a minute of every hour of his waking day. He can get to gratitude, as a feeling and being state with “immediacy.” It’s right there for him. He has also learned to draw it out for 10 minutes (that’s called duration.) Finally, he has learned to increase the “intensity” of gratitude to an 8 or 9, at his own will.

He does this every day and he is a happy, happy man. He has developed a system of cues that signals him to go in the direction of the predominant moods he wants to develop in his life. And now he’s deeply grateful for his Bentley.

He can do this as well with joy, peace, love and hope. It took some time but it mainly took a decision on his part that he would not be a victim of his negative emotions, that he would be a Master of his positive emotions and positive states of mind and that he would grow them and develop them.

The wonderful truth is that these positive States Of Mind can be trained in your brain. They can be built and deepened with focus and practice. 

You are the architect of your own positive emotions.

It’s just that simple.

NeuroPositivity Isn’t Just The Opposite Of Negativity

Positivity is not a SWEET THIN SHELL wrapped around negativity like an M&M.

Positivity is in the code of your DNA expressed throughout the entire genome of the human being

Positivity is in your DNA. It is not just a learned, adaptive response to life to make it seem more bearable.

Positivity is in your genetic make-up, in your chromosomes, and in the nature of creation and being. It’s just that basic.

Positivity expresses the movement toward life, aliveness, meaning, and the good life that cause the process of life to unfold, to evolve, and to become an even greater expression of itself that’s YOU.

The neural channels of positivity aren’t the same as negativity. A simpler way of saying this is that the neuropathways that are neuropositive are different from those that are negative. It’s a different system. Health is not just the opposite of illness; it is its own system. Illness, as a matter of fact, is a separate system developing differently than this system of health and flourishing.

Positivity is more like the meaning of the word “heliotropic,” which means light seeking or growth seeking. It is in the nature of the seed to seek the light, and it is in our nature as human seeds to do the same.

Your DNA is coded with a need for making meaning in your life. It is coded for you to have a sense of direction. You are coded, at the basic level of your being, to DEVELOP all the days of your life. That development is DNA grounded in your requirement as a human being to find your sense of personal significance. That sense comes from the way you make meaning of life.

If you are a sour cynic about life, you will likely look like you are. You will take on the nature of that cynicism in the very nature of your being and your physical expression. Not only will you not look like a happy camper, but your sense of meaning in life that provides for you a sense of the good life, the well-lived life, and a life of vision, will have faded.

Positivity is expressed in the developmental stages of life, not only in childhood but in those after 50, in the second half and the last third of life. There are stages and transitions that are about meaning-making.

You may retire from a job you had for 35 years, but you do not retire from the job of making meaning and growing toward the light.

Positivity is the job of your genes and your chromosomes, and it is the expression of the brain and the mind. We are engaged in this total job of finding meaning and enjoying it long past the too easy reliance on a job or work to keep going with some sense of productivity. As a teenager, if you do not pursue this meaning making, you become self-absorbed and lost in the world of your headphones. Your hormones are working to get you out of the headphones and into the world of your first meaningful kiss.

Here is a clue. Our meaning is found in where we are creating love and compassion in our personal expression of life. It is found in where we are giving our gift, our passion, and pursuing our curiosity and creativity.

I recently heard of a woman in her 80s who is falling in love with a man for the first time. She spent her whole life married and in a relationship with a man she loved, but this time she is “in love.”  He’s as old as she is and he brings her flowers everyday. One morning her daughter asked why she was sitting on the front porch at night for so long with this man, what were they doing? She replied, “Oh, we were necking.”  Necking is an old, old word for “making-out,” but even at 80 it describes the same thrill of loving. She went on to say that she had never felt like this before. There was not the shred of an idea in her that at 80 she must be too old and far gone to feel this way!

We are made for meaning that is expressive of love, compassion, and passion, and the way is always idiosyncratic, is always very individual, but it is there in every stage of life haunting us, goading us through every transition that is a doorway to new meaning and new love of life.

Positivity is far more than the determination to think or feel positive thoughts (although that’s a part of it.)  it is the good life that is found in meaning making, the principle test of which is a sense of personal significance.

Focus & Feelings

“The Universe is full of MAGICAL things PATIENTLY waiting for our WITS to grow sharper.”

Eden Phillpotts

It is our right frontal lobe that takes in information. That information is then passed on to the left frontal lobe for sorting and the beginning of learning that distributes that information to the rest of the brain.

In this process of “novelty-routinization” and hemispheric specialization, we take in novel information with the right frontal lobe and it is routinized by the left frontal lobe. Your right frontal lobe is this entry point that first grabs what is important. It is the start of FOCUS. We suspect that it is also key to whatever ADD or ADHD is.

FOCUS is also connected to the activity of the Reticular Activating System in the limbic system. It all seems so complicated when we look only at the physiology and forget about what we are feeling.

What is often overlooked is how much FOCUS is dependent upon feeling state. Our feelings are where we live, and we focus from our feeling state or in reaction to it. Regardless of how the brain functions and handles the physiological process, we are FOCUSING from feelings.

Our wits are sharper when we are sharper, and we are sharper when we are feeling good. FOCUS and FEELINGS could very nearly be the same thing. Oftentimes we are so much on automatic pilot that we don’t know what we’re feeling. What are you feeling right now? Can you tell me in words that really describe to me where you are in such a way that I could feel it with you? You are not your feelings until you can decide which ones you want to have and direct your FOCUS to have them.

What your right frontal lobe attaches to and takes in is largely dependent upon two things: your awareness of your feelings and your emotional muscle. Even when I am intending to focus on something I want to learn or know, the power of that focus rests in what I am feeling and how that feeling is coloring my experience.

Try an experiment. Look around you and see what you see. Then take a deep breath. Breathe deeply and feel peace. See how deeply and completely you can relax and feel peace. Close your eyes while you do it. Then open your eyes and look around. Now what do you see? Take some time and look.

Notice any differences?

FOCUS is a choice if we make it a choice. But always the power of that focus is largely defined by what we are feeling. Before you label yourself ADD, consider what you are feeling. Before you decide that you can’t focus on something, consider what you are feeling.

Mindfulness of FEELING STATES enhances wit and FOCUS.

Feelings have force. They can be trained. They are more than just a thermometer of what is happening to you. You can develop emotional muscle and you can grow the emotions that best serve your FOCUS and your wit.

You are not the victim of your emotions. You have the ability to develop the emotional strength and direction that sharpens your wit and determines your focus.

Junk Food Happiness

Are You Feeding Your Soul?

The NeuroPositive way is to ground your happiness in what has meaning and in what feeds what is really nourishing to the human spirit. NeuroPositivity is not empty happiness filled with the next “happy hour” or another Friday night of mindless recreational sex. It’s not shopping sprees that don’t satisfy the heart nor cocktail parties that are mindless, vapid, and empty. And while I love movies, it is not the next sequel to the last bad movie.

The last two movies I just wanted to have fun seeing were “Star Trek” and “Superman.” The special effects were great, they were awesome in fact, but the story line stunk in both of them. Both movies end with the heroes in a fist fight. All that technology and you can’t end a movie without a fist fight?  It was time and money pretty much wasted; they did not feed my soul significantly enough for the time and money spent. They were just not, for me, truly fun.

Happiness emerges from what we really, truly enjoy. I know a man with an enormous model train set-up. He helps the museum set up their train display and takes joy in  both the children and the adults who come to be delighted by the old and new model trains running on levels of elaborately staged mountains and little cities.

There is joy in that, both his own joy and the delight he takes in others enjoying his work.

Our meaning does not have to be attached to grandiose accomplishments or working in a food bank or soup kitchen, though it may be. Our meaning and our vision can be as simple as the joy of decorating our home and assembling those colors and things that give expression to our inner spirit.

Happiness is tied to those things that reveal our real nature and express the individual that we are. What do you love? Where is your heart? What lifts your spirits and uplifts your sense of being alive?  What increases your aliveness?

I know an 80-year-old woman who tells me that she just fell in love for the first time with a widower in her housing complex. Married before, with a husband who has passed on, now at 80 she realizes that she is in love for the first time in her life, and she describes it as being like a schoolgirl. She is far more alive that a self-absorbed twenty year old with a new fast car.

May we always be in love with something or someone and live out that love in our own unique and particular way. It is happiness that must fill the soul, and not junk food happiness packaged to deliver nourishment it doesn’t have.

Copyright © 2015 The Applied Neuroscience Institute