Archive - 2015

The Gift Of Detachment
What’s Your Stress Response?
Positive Emotion & Terrorism
Hope: Celebrate The Good
How Big Is Your “In Between?”
The Performance Boost Of Your Strengths
The Power Of An Emotional Pulse
The “Mirror” Of Your Mind

The Gift Of Detachment

Seen Heard 2

It’s OK.

The greatest gift may be the one you lose.

We think that the term “detachment” means from “things.”

It is much more about relationships we try to foster that are illusions, that we hold onto as though they will finally come through for us, except they rarely do with much. Especially at the holidays, we are often bound by obligations that make it even more crystal clear to us that there are relationships in our life that are not based in the reality of real give and take, or real sharing and meaning.

By obligation we blow air into the never satisfied balloon of distorted expectations and often toxic silence, or subtle or not so subtle responses that make us try harder – when what is called for is detachment.

This just may be the greatest gift of these holidays: to let go of the attachments where it is impossible to really connect in a way that gives meaning.

Who doesn’t really “get you”? Who doesn’t really “know you” and doesn’t want to, because really understanding you would have to make them rethink their own narrow world?

STOP, reflect, and do what seems like the unholy thing – let go of the illusions of relationship and energy robbing relationships that simply are myths. They have lost their meaning.

We are terribly afraid of challenging the systems and networks that we believe are so holy. They aren’t holy if they aren’t life giving, and if you cannot be appreciated and experienced as who you are, if you can’t “be seen and be heard.”

Take a step back and see where you are blowing air into the illusion of a relationship that no longer works, no longer allows and helps you “be.”

We do no favor for ourselves by pretending to be what we are not, feigning interest when we don’t care, and using enormous energy to play the role someone else requires.

Perhaps it’s time to consider that the great gift may be to let go, to detach, and to let go of the expectations of how you think you should be and have to be, and to get really clear about what you want.

What do you WANT?

The rejection you fear when you are pretending to find meaning where you are not is really like you holding a mirror up to yourself and threatening yourself with nonsense that no longer serves.

Mirror Image

You are not enough, says the mirror. You are selfish, says the mirror. You are going to be rejected and unloved says the mirror, You will be alone, guilty, and full of shame, chants the mirror.

All of that is you, afraid to look at what is real and what is not.

Detaching from what robs you, from toxic expectations, or simply the ignorance of people who cannot appreciate you and fail to “know” you may be the beginning of your greatest holiday gift.

We fill our lives with the illusions of what satisfies and wonder why we are empty.

What do YOU WANT?

What’s Your Stress Response?



“Over time, the ends of your chromosomes fray, and as they fray, your DNA stops working as well, and eventually that could wind up ‘doing in’ the cell. There are now studies showing that chromosomal DNA aging accelerates in young, healthy humans who experience something incredibly psychologically stressful. That’s a huge finding.”

Dr. Robert Sapolsky

How does stress impact your health?

Dr. Robert Sapolsky of Stanford University has identified the activity of glucocorticoids as the result of stress that reduces the size of the hippocampus in the brain. The particular kind of stress affecting aging that can cause even our DNA to age faster is related to the experience of oppression.

This oppression is usually caused by being a part of a structure or a system that causes one to feel that “things are on top of me,” that a person doesn’t have control over their life being affected in major ways by a source other than themselves. It is the sense that all or most control and one’s fate rests unpredictably outside of one’s self.

This is certainly the case with traumatic events, but it also is the case with chronic stress over a period of time that results in the sense of being “oppressed” or “it’s on top of me, I’m not on top of it.”

There are certainly circumstances of oppression that exist in systems and cultures, but oppression can also exist as a matter of perception. The perception of freedom or control can be very idiosyncratic.

If we do not have a pretty rich and deep reservoir of positivity, the cumulative small events of life become stressors in themselves, or they become cumulative and we too easily begin to feel that things are on top of us.

Stress Meter

We can talk all we want about “catastrophizing” and “awfullizing,” and while that insight can be helpful, it doesn’t produce long-terms results unless we respond differently to negative events from having lived and developed what we call a “NeuroPositive™ life.”

This means that we become, over a period of time, wired to go to the positive in both feelings and thoughts. It builds upon already existing internal strengths as our major neuropathways. These are the super highways of the real or ideal self.

This takes practice.

We are not automatically positive in the face of small or larger stressors. It usually has to be learned.

Stressors grind at us because they are continual and always present.

Our NeuroPositive™ response to stressors can be elegantly simple, if we have learned it and it is wired-in.

We can wire it in by learning to pulse positive emotion.

Most of us never learned that we can grow positive emotion intentionally. Emotions are reactive indicators, but we can also control emotions and use them by choice. We have the power to decrease positive emotion and we have the power to increase positive emotion. We have just not been taught how to do it.

We have far more positive control over emotions that it not negative denial than we believe that we do. You can train your brain to go to a positive emotion with immediacy, you can make that positive emotion last (duration) and you can increase that positive emotion for long periods of time at will (intensity).

Immediacy, duration, intensity with positive emotion.

Welcome to The Emotional Gym.™



Positive Emotion & Terrorism

Resilience Jung

We now have research about the role of positive emotions in survivors of terrorist attacks.

Researchers found that the presence of positive emotion within a person is “linear.” This means that it is a kind of reservoir that we can draw upon in the face of negative events, in fact for ANY event in our lives.

Building this reservoir of positive emotions is exactly what we teach in our “Emotional Gym,” where the stress is on the importance of “positive emotional muscle” as a buffer against persistent, routine negativity, or any sense of threat.

However, I never considered it in the face of terrorist attacks, but it holds true even there. A group of researchers applied their skills to survivors of the terrorist attacks in Madrid, Spain, where El Qaeda terrorists placed bombs in 3 subway stops, killing 190 people and wounding 1500 others.

This is what the researchers wrote in The Journal of Positive Psychology in the article, “Perceived benefits after terrorist attacks; The role of positive and negative emotions:”

“Analyses showed that positive emotions experienced on the same day or immediately following the day of the attacks (gratitude, love) fully accounted for the relation between pre-attack resilience and post attack growth, which suggest that positive emotions experienced in the after math of the terrorist attacks increased perceptions of psychological growth.”

What this means is that positive emotions residing in the person before an attack or experienced afterwards increases resilience and diminishes any likelihood of post traumatic stress reactions and related illnesses.

This is very significant stuff.

Positive emotion, what we call “positive emotional muscle,” has great power to be a buffer to negative emotion and events.

It also speeds up recovering from negative emotion: you just don’t spend as much time being fearful, worrying, and being anxious.

If that can happen in the face of terrorist attacks, consider what positive emotion does in the face of our everyday encounters with the things in life that cause us fear and worry and dread.

* The research cited from the Journal of Positive Psychology appeared in an article by Carmelo Vazquez and Gonzalo Hervas., Volume 5, Issue 2, March 10, 2010.

© Dr. William K. Larkin 



Focus Feelings


As we tune into how we focus and how we manage our attention, we learn a great deal about what real intelligence is. It is certainly not just an IQ number. It is the application of knowledge to a challenge that requires focus and attention.

If you can’t focus and you can’t attend to a task over a period of time necessary to reach the solution, you dart from thing to thing and task to task.

What we need are validated measures of our strengths.

We think nothing of tests that tell us what’s wrong with us, but miss taking those measures that tell us who we really are. Everyone, yes everyone, takes his or her strengths for granted.

They are often the last things we learn to focus upon, yet they are the very things that will reveal our intelligence and our genius. And most importantly, the use of our real strengths, honed with attention and focus, is the core of our level of happiness and satisfaction in life.

The danger is that the only thing that begins to hold our attention is what we observe, what we watch on television or on a smartphone screen. Our attention span and focus begin to be directed by the message, rather than by our own inner ability to focus and attend to a task.

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.

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.

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 ADHD, 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 FOCUS.

© Dr. William K. Larkin 

Hope: Celebrate The Good

Hope NEW

Love, peace, gratitude and joy have always comprised the basic building blocks of the Emotional Gym. Not too long ago, I added a 5th feeling to those basic 4. And it is HOPE. As the research emerges, the construct of hope continually pushes forth as a major and robust predictor of happiness and joy.

Working with the first four, I began to believe that I had a hold on getting people to experience the emotions of hope. What I learned was that hope depends upon the experience of the other four emotions.

As you feel gratitude, peace, love, and joy, your capacity for hope increases. When any one of the previous four emotions is blocked, then feeling hope is affected.

“Feeling ourselves” into the future is very delicate. Consider this: getting people to dream, visualize, imagine, and to vision their future can also be very challenging.

Sacred texts describe faith as “the hope of things unseen.” And that is what we especially need right now. Hope is that which we cannot yet see, yet know will come into being. Hope is definitely a feeling and a significant issue in dealing with doubt, worry, anxiety, and fortune-telling (that’s imagining and projecting negativity into the future.)

So begin to pulse hope. Find a few cues that will remind you to feel hope and “pulse” it. Every time you hear negative economic news from another “talking head,” pulse hope.

Hope Inside

Suffice it to say that there is enough research indicating that hope is a very significant indicator of living in an UpSpiral. It is also a very difficult emotion to feel if you are clutching and afraid on almost any level.

It is much easier to feel hope if you can feel gratitude, peace, joy, and love first.

Let me say it again-the very best way to feel hope is to feel all of the other emotions first, and to get good at them. Then go to hope and you will find that it is there already. It has sneaked its way into your emotional repertoire. You can find it and you can practice it and grow it, just like you have all of the others.

Your brain is designed to be more hopeful than less; it’s just built that way.

One very basic rule is to celebrate the good, make it last, and spread it around. When something is negative, don’t make it so permanent or lasting, and don’t let it affect everything in your life. We have a great deal more difficulty experiencing hope when we pass over the good too quickly, and dwell on the negative.

Whenever your mind wanders and begins to worry about what will happen, pulse hope and let it build, even more strongly.

Hope is the foundation of the State of Mind of Certitude.

© Dr. William K. Larkin 

How Big Is Your “In Between?”



This is not a reference to your physical body.

It’s a reference to the swing and sway of your everyday moods or states of mind.

The top of our Emotional Scale is feeling very good, resilient, optimistic, grateful, and that is at a score of 100. The bottom is feeling oppressed, overwhelmed and despairing, and that is a score at 0. The mid-point is 50. The in-between, where most people are, is a range between 35 and 70.

So on a scale of 1-100, where are you?

If you are, in part of your life, in this “in-between” state, yo-yoing up and down and back and forth, or just fixed at a 60, then consider moving that mid-range to over 70 –to the “feel-good” range.

This in-between state is where many folks live, thinking that it’s just them, just their life as it is. But we guarantee that you can live at a higher point on this scale and experience feeling good more and more and more often.

We even guarantee that you can get to feeling very good 95% of the time.

It starts with feeling positive emotion. We are heading into the holiday season, which can be a good test. There are folks for whom this season raises their mood, but there are others who dread it and feel it as an imposition.

Every time you think of the holiday season, and perhaps feel dread or overwhelm, and even if you don’t, turn to the feeling of gratitude.

Think of something you’re grateful for and pulse the feeling of gratitude 25 times.

And while you’re at it, find some more cues that you can use to feel grateful, both for this holiday season and beyond.

© Dr. William K. Larkin 

The Performance Boost Of Your Strengths

Boost Strengths

Are you too optimistic?

Can you be?

Some studies claim that too much optimism can be dangerous and cause too 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 







The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.”

H. L. Mencken

Pursue Happy

We are a culture obsessed with the Puritanical fear of what our Declaration of Independence guarantees us – “the pursuit of happiness.”

Yes, we’re afraid of the power of positivity because of the changes in thinking, believing, feeling, just plain living our lives, that positivity may require.

But positivity is about evolution.

It is what sets the stage for our personal growth, our evolution.

It is essential to the unfolding stages of brain development, that are expressed in what we call an UpSpiral – higher and more complex stages of reasoning, feeling, and creating.

And having learned to savor the sweetness of life in this UpSpiral, nothing is more important than learning how to stay there with integrity, ease, and peace.

Neuropositivity is pushing change in the structure of the brain, enlarging the networked connectivity of neurons into powerful “neural nets,” in such a way that you begin to notice that you reason differently than before.

Your brain is literally growing you a new “lens,” a new structure of how you think, feel, and reason, and its fuel is positivity.

Negativity, on the other hand, creates regression and balks at these changes and your emerging new ways of reasoning, thinking, and feeling.

In the name of staying in your “comfort zone,” you remain fixed, stubborn, and “dug in” with beliefs and emotions that you say are “your style,” but which you know are producing ever- dwindling results.

Hill Over

If there is such a thing as “being over the hill,” it is negativity and pessimism that create it.

It is positivity that expands the potential for what it is that your brain is essentially designed- the evolutionary, ever-present unfolding of deeper meaning, deeper connections, and a life that you know you want, but which at times may seem simply out of reach.

That’s because positivity, once set in motion, inevitable throws you into a transition.

Your brain is never NOT attempting to unfold and grow, with one exception.

That is the choice you have to refuse to grow, thus creating rigidity and stuckness, the process at the heart of our dis-eases.

© Dr. William K. Larkin 

The Power Of An Emotional Pulse

5 Senses


Beyond the 5 senses and the thoughts of the brain, there is a deeper knowing that is always present, always there, always ready to be revealed.

In fact, it is always getting through the “filter” of everyday living.

What is beyond the senses and the thoughts is the essence of gratitude, love, peace, joy and hope. Living in these moods and states of mind is the easiest way of allowing this essence at the core of you to emerge.

This essence is the closest thing to what you really, really, really believe about yourself and life. It’s you’re basic “knowing” that you may not even be aware that you have.

Have you ever had the experience that when you had to draw upon it, there was an inner source of strength making you feel “steady as a rock?”

Remember how you worried your way all the way there, and then when you stepped out and did it, you were steady as steady could be?

There are those times when we feel oppressed –life seems to be on top of us rather than feeling like we “are top of things”. It is a common experience in a life where we get too busy to take good care of ourselves. Sometimes, it’s ANGER, some times it’s just frustration and that “wit’s end” feeling.

Try this.



It is true that we notice more of what we begin to FEEL.

An “emotional pulse” is like sending positive emotional blood through your brain and body. You might have to start with your imagination.

Find the positive feeling that you can catch by the tail and feel just a little bit of it.

Among 5 feelings- gratitude, peace, love, joy or hope, which of these feelings RIGHT NOW can you get the closest to by feeling just a little bit of one of them?

Which one can you most easily imagine?

Which one can you catch by the tail?

Tap those moments and you tap into what you really know and believe.

At the core of you is a center of steadfast love, peace, joy, and hope, and gratitude.

Touch it and let it seep into your world.

© Dr. William K. Larkin 

The “Mirror” Of Your Mind

Mirror Neurons 1


Tucked away neatly behind the frontal lobes of your brain are these amazing neurons of ours that help us to embrace “the other.” They are called “mirror neurons” and they enable us to experience the experience of another person, to the extent that we can, and that can be greater and greater. They are also the roots of the expanding awareness of the spiritual sense of the “the other,” but that’s for another time.

Start with people, one and a time, and you are also starting with the Universe.

Feeling understood is one of our most basic human needs- to get that sense that someone embraces who we are, not only for what we think, but for how we feel. It is this activity of being a kind of “chameleon” to the experience of another that bonds us to like-minded people and communities. It is the basis of friendship.

People who can’t or don’t use their mirror neurons have limited friendships and very small communities, or are loners.

Your mirror neurons, and your capacity to mirror the experience of another, help you and the other person to mature. It’s call mutuality. In a relationship of love between couples, it’s essential.

It determines whether the love in that relationship, indeed the relationship, itself, will last.

Can you experience the experience of another?

Not just as a parrot, mimicking back what somewhat is saying, but in an understanding an enlightened way, letting the other person know that you “get” where they’re coming from?

Mirror neurons grow when you use them, and so does maturity.

Find new balance and connectedness in your life by finding those people who can do the same for you.

© Dr. William K. Larkin 

Copyright © 2015 The Applied Neuroscience Institute