Archive - 2015

Aren’t All Emotions Good?
Build Your “Gratitude Brain”
The Gratitude Brain
Slow Down Your Brain…
Aging=Brain Decline?
The Greatest Issue Of Our Time
Happy, Happy, Happy?
Mapping Your Brain, Setting Your Goals
How Do You Shed The Skins Of The Past?
The Brain’s “Open Door”

Aren’t All Emotions Good?


Feelings Wordle


No, they’re not, not all the time, and not just anytime.

Most negative emotions are not good too much of the time. Yes, we need negative emotions, but we need them much less than we think we do, and certainly far less than we have been conditioned to respond with them.

People are too careless with negative emotions. They increase your cortisol, and you die sooner, and get sick easier.

I’m here to argue the case for the importance of positive emotions. We need many, many more of them, and we need them more pervasively and permanently. Positive emotions are essential to health, fitness, and optimal living.

You can have many more of them by not waiting for the world around you to give them to you; make the decision to give them to yourself!

They are far more effective and healthy than negative emotions most all of the time. As an evolving species, we face fewer and fewer sabre tooth tigers, and those we do, in whatever shape they come, are better escaped or defeated by smoother, slicker, more clever means than the reptilian fight/flight that we are evolving from.

Learn to move into a “calm/connect” response –where the real power is.

We are not nearly as good at positive emotions as we are at negative emotions.

Consider how lightning fast you get to the emotions of upset or anger or anxiety! Can you get that fast to gratitude or love or joy? Probably not. If we can get to anger or upset with lightning speed, we can rehearse and train ourselves to get to joy just as surely.

We learned to get to anger, we can learn to get to joy. As evolutionarily predisposed as you are to anger, you are also have within you the capacity for joy, great, great joy! It is a part of your nature.

But you have to rehearse your part and that is to feel them. There are plenty of reasons to have them; it is your part to decide you want and to feel them. Practice feeling positive emotion. All day long feel joy.

Every chance you get, go to joy. Start with a little and then increase the amount, but rehearse joy.

If you have a problem on your mind, use it as a cue to go to joy. Think of the problem, then feel joy. Hard at first, but very possible to learn to do. Then start to look around for what gives you joy and feel joy 100 times a day, every day for a week. Then do it for a month and see what happens.

You can build routes of joy in your brain that you go to instantly, that you can stay there for a while and that you can increase whenever you want to.

But you have to rehearse positive emotion to develop positive emotional muscle.

© Dr. William K. Larkin 


Build Your “Gratitude Brain”

Brain Age NYT


Do you believe your brain has to decline with age?

Gratitude is the state of mind that opens us to expansiveness. It has only been a relatively short time ago that we believed that the brain was a fixed at a certain point on life, and that everyone’s brain declined with age.

Now we know that neurogenesis, the growth of new neurons in the marrow of our bones, make their way to our brains for distribution exactly where they’re needed. This process of cellular renewal goes on until you die.

If we think about the nature of gratitude and the nature of the way it opens us to perceive, puts us in a state of safety, and allows the parasympathetic nervous system of the body to remain in homeostasis to repair and strengthen the body, gratitude is enough to bring us to our knees. Then we when we look around us and give our cells permission to receive, to be open, to see, to smell and to appreciate goodness,  we resonate in a way that allows us to have a sense of wholeness and oneness, that is unifying and restorative.

Every single challenge will give me the opportunity of identifying something good in it, and I can find what I like in every person rather than what rubs me the wrong way. That rub may be surely be there, if I choose to make it my focus. And even if I do focus on the “rub” I can know that I am really only focusing on something in myself that is not whole, that needs a look that will end in deeper self-acceptance, if I choose to do the work to realize that what rubs me in another is something I reject in myself.

Good Seen

This thinking really is a new kind of meditation, because its focus is gratitude. Gratitude is where it begins. It does not begin with love or hope. It begins with gratitude, because gratitude is the apprehension of what is good right now. Start the mind in the track of what is good right now, what is to be enjoyed, and that is the track you are likely to stay on.

Feeling gratitude increases blood flow in the brain. Increased ratios of blood flow to the left frontal lobe increase positive mood.

Gratitude is the emotional state that enables the most rapid transmission of positive emotions and the connectivity of positive brain neuropathways.

Gratitude is one of the lead strengths of the happiest people. When in doubt, go to gratitude. Whenever you have spare time, immerse yourself in gratitude. Whenever your brain is wandering, experience gratitude. When you’re in traffic, go to gratitude. When you hear a great song, go to gratitude. In fact, when you hear a lousy song, go to gratitude.

Gratitude is profound experience of healing and restoration.

© Dr. William K. Larkin 

The Gratitude Brain



We are a “fix it” solution-oriented culture.  It’s a real cultural fixation.

We are taught to work and not waste time, to suffer as a part of the price to pay for any success, and to be persistent no matter what.

We have been conditioned to believe in “no pain- no gain” in almost anything we do.

If we felt as elated for all of the goodness in our lives as we do guilty for what we are afraid we haven’t worked hard enough for, we would problem-free.

To say that we are driven to fix, solve, and explain is an understatement. To say that we work too hard or worry too much that we are not has just become cliché.

Guilt over not accomplishing something, at least making the bed, looms largely in one way or another. Even finding meaning in life has been overtaken by those who must live the “purpose-driven” life.

Just for the record, have meaning in life and finding a purpose are not necessarily at all the same thing. It is far better to be inspired to live, being alive to life rather than driven to accomplish a purpose.

To suggest that the best fix is “nothing” is blasphemy. However, when we are thinking and thinking and thinking and worrying and worrying and looking and looking for a solution, both the wisdom and the research tell us that it is precisely “nothing” that works best.Resistance3How do you clear your mind when you are obsessively stuck on solving or worrying to solve some dilemma?

How do you clear your mind when a “fix” is needed?

First, we have to begin to realize that driven and obsessive effort, even when it is disguised as concern, compassion, or caring, is actually resistance. We aren’t pushing in the direction of a solution; we are pushing against the problem or the concern. It is that resistance that wears us down and is the opposite of creating a NeuroPositive Mind.

How many things in your life have resolved themselves because you left them alone, and time changed certain factors you could not have expected? Actually, for all of our work at problem-solving, most of the time things come to their conclusions outside of our determined and best efforts. The tide changes, factors shuffle around, surprises happen, and the most unlikely things happen to affect outcomes.

Gratitude Vision

With that realization we turn again to the Emotional Gym and it’s first and most important emotion. That emotion is gratitude. It is the worm hole through the black hole. That is to say, it is the way out of the problem.

In the face of the problem, practice gratitude over and over and over again. If it takes an hour of writing down what you are grateful for, take the hour and save yourself 3 days of worry and needless mental work on solutions that you just don’t have.

Gratitude is a daily practice, but you can’t just think gratitude. You have to have learned to “feel” and experience it. Every solution comes from a reservoir of gratitude.

Build the reservoir, put it to the test, and see if it is not true that the solution to all of your “issues” comes when you turn from them and live today, experiencing the feeling of gratitude.

© Dr. William K. Larkin 

Slow Down Your Brain…

PAST-PRESENT-FUTURESo the future can catch up with you.

The past is before you.

The future is behind you.

Let it catch up.

In historical Chinese culture, it is the past that is in front of you. You can see all of your mistakes and all of your accomplishments. If you look, and will see, there it is. That is the part you know. The task is to accept what you see and know and learn everything you can from this past that is right there in front of you.

No digging required.

Interestingly, it is the future that is behind you, trying to catch up with how fast your are running after it. Can you get this picture of chasing success, purpose, meaning, security, and the well-lived life while it is all the time trying to catch up with you? What longing wants to catch up with you?

Here is a clue of how to get there and orient yourself to what this longing is. Here is a way to stop and grab it. Do an Avalanche of Gratitude. List 400 things you’re grateful for. Then be still with yourself. What speaks? How does the future talk to you about your longings?

Future-mindedness is one of the top five strengths of the happiest of happy people. We have the solid research evidence that shows us the importance of “future-thinking.” This is not “fortune-telling” and expecting the worst, but rather a zest and excitement for the future that draws us forward to be a part of what is yet to be revealed and created.

It is the left frontal lobe that is particularly engaged in “visioning.” It is busy sorting and making sense of the data collected by the right frontal lobe. It is the spinning wheel of the yarn and stuff of life that we assimilate, distributing the fabric of initial meaning-making to the rest of the brain for a billion neuropathways to form new structures of reasoning –all future-oriented.

“Going-here, going-here, next stop” is its constant call as the booster engine of enlarging the ever-growing, ever inter-connecting network of neuropathways of the brain, building vast canopies of intricate reasoning that form the rainforest of the Mind.

It is a wonderful metaphor and true. The future wants to take us along, pull us forward, and beckon us to wish, hope and desire. We can think that we are so much in charge of the future while we believe that the past is this baggage on our back to be worked through in order to deserve to live with vision and what captivates us.


Little wonder that we have such little sense of potential, of adventure, and the yet to be explored. On the one hand we don’t believe that we can simply look at the past, accept it, learn, and go on without having to pay anymore debt than that.  On the other hand we have difficulty wanting, just simply “wanting” what we want.

Longing has become an almost dirty word.

What do you “long” for?

What is your heart’s desire?

What’s your next stop, next thought, next idea, next lusciously interesting encounter with unfolding creation?

© Dr. William K. Larkin 

Aging=Brain Decline?

Brain Super


The whole right hemisphere of our brain is largely for the function of managing novelty, of handling new information and new situations.   The right frontal lobe is for grabbing the information that needs inputting for use in the ongoing development of the brain, solving the challenges of living in the moment.

Your right frontal lobe isn’t busy gathering evidence to keep you convinced that how you reasoned 5 years ago still really works just fine. If it does, you’re in trouble, with a kind of rigidity that comes from wanting to remain safe rather than to encounter what is new and novel.

Your right hemisphere is engaged in encountering all of the new and novel things that are part of an evolving brain that last all of our lives. Does the brain shrink as we grow older? Probably, if you don’t use it. I don’t think Einstein’s brain had any shrinkage. I don’t believe that Monet, who painted into his 80’s, had any shrinkage.

Decline is not synonymous with aging. It is the product of perceived threat, resistance, and rigidity. It happens when you decide that it’s time to get out of the parade and watch it go by. It happens when you rely more and more on what you already know, and use less and less of your brain to learn new things. It happens when you start balking at learning how to text or use a smart phone, or resist learning new technology, not because you are making a choice to learn other more interesting things, but because you are afraid, and have for some reason, made a choice to withdraw, bit by bit, from life.

If you do not use a whole hemisphere of your brain, designed for novelty, and you resist and shut it down, what do you think happens? The brain regresses, it creates disease, and your refusal to cooperate with evolution takes you out of the game one way or another.

What we used to call wisdom, that belonged to those with wide ranges of reasoning, has become a lost concept because we worship youth and sell out to aging as decline. It is a lie of a marketplace selling mediocrity to youthful faces with money to spend on popcorn at the movies.

The brain is unfolding and developing all of our lives, if we will call upon it to do so.

Your brain was not created to retire.

The right hemisphere does not collect Social Security at 65; it collects more novelty and information.

© Dr. William K. Larkin 


The Greatest Issue Of Our Time


The great problem of our time is not the suffering, the incompleteness, or some existential angst about the state of the world or ultimate reality.

It is negative self-absorption that refuses to find the good in today and to celebrate and to bring joy to ourselves in such a way that we ARE joy to those around us.

The epidemic of depression in this country today is not because we are worse off.

It is because we are worse at knowing how to live with positivity that leads to a deeper sense of meaning & personal significance.

We have not learned how to see that our cup is overflowing everyday.

We have not learned and developed that perception or the interior life that produce it.

The so-called negatives in life (which always have the clues for hope and creativity) and even times of grief or complicated grief seem to undermine the basic lessons of positivity just because they exist.

The argument for positivity is often given as “yes, but what about when times are really bad and really negative? What do you do then?”

One of the things you don’t do is live less alive today because you believe you are somehow getting ready for the tough times by not being too happy or too joyful, so you will be less hurting when the tough times come.


© Dr. William K. Larkin 

Happy, Happy, Happy?



Positivity Isn’t HAPPY, HAPPY, HAPPY

You can be sad and be positive.
You can be frustrated and be positive.
You can be angry and be positive.
You can be uncertain and be positive.

Being happy is only one expression of being positive.

But being positive is a perspective, it’s a way of being, it’s a big part of your real nature. Being positive is the upward direction of energy and intention when you are in the process of expressing the end result. It is how you choose to be while you’re on the journey from one place to a better place. It is the bias of the very nature and structure of your brain.

Positivity is more like faith or being steadfast in what you believe, even when what you believe is changing or shaking.

Positivity is knowing that when one door closes, another door opens.

Positivity is moving forward and not giving in to despair and despondency.

It is refusing self-doubt and holding on the anchors in your life.

We cannot always be happy, happy, happy.

Positivity isn’t “happiology.”

But the inner anchors are there to find the meanings that sustain us through all of the stages of our lives, and even through the transitions.

© Dr. William K. Larkin 


Mapping Your Brain, Setting Your Goals


Brain Map NEW

It’s really our choice to decide how it is we want the “mapping” of our lives to go.

It’s our decision to decide where we want our lives to go. When we’re setting goals, we’re mind mapping, we’re brain mapping, and the mind is mapping the brain. When we’re setting goals, the mind is telling the brain where to go. The mind is telling the brain where to put enormous potential and enormous energy in the creative process.

The resistance to being very clear about what you want and setting goals in that direction is that one is being too controlling and now allowing things to just “unfold.”

Some say, “I don’t want to be such a controlling person that I give my life so much direction, I want some serendipity in my life.” What you’re really saying is this: You want “messy” in your life. That’s what you’re asking for: messy. And you spend time, if you do messy a great deal of your time, cleaning up messy and wondering where your life is going to go.

The greater the detail, the greater the direction, the greater will be the serendipitous surprises of how you are getting there.

This is an enormous universe. What you don’t want is all kind of random diversifying and random unfolding, but you do want enough novelty to allow you to form and change malleable goals that give you a sense of direction. What you want is significant unfolding that will take you in the direction that allows your potential to emerge over time. The greater the direction and its detail, the greater the desire, and great desire will change everything.

Negative core beliefs do not stand a chance is the face of a determined, clear will that both knows what it wants, but is also willing to alter those goals through viable feedback. You don’t have to go back over negative beliefs and your negative belief system and my dark side. Desire will take all of that along.

Where do you believe your desires, what you want for your life, are taking you?

What’s up ahead, what’s the “next great adventure” in your life?

© Dr. William K. Larkin 


How Do You Shed The Skins Of The Past?

Know Strengths


There is a strong cultural bias when it comes to feelings. We tend to believe that negative feelings always have to be aired or talked out or resolved.

We tend to believe that there is a negative energy in negative feelings, that if not aired or released, will always double back on us as repressed conflict.

The truth is this: what you focus on is what you get more of.

We shed the skins of the past IF –  and this is an important IF –  we are moving forward, growing, learning, developing, and exercising our strengths.

The NeuroPositive Method ™ is a research based, neuroscience framework for personal and professional growth, including professional coaching, increasing the positive neuroplasticity of the brain, integrated with an intensive focus on developing positive and powerful, practical strategies and tools.


Brain Ultimate


© Dr. William K. Larkin 

The Brain’s “Open Door”

Benefits Blocks

If you are sad, in a funk, dealing with loss, large or small, there is a space or a clue, if you will look, that moves you forward and leads you on.

It is the question of the next attachments in your life. It is a wondering that looks over the loss and asks, “Where is the opening? What can I make of this? What do I want to become in the midst of this and where do I want to go with this sadness? Can I begin to see any benefits?”

How can I stop and listen, notice, and be still and more attentive to what wants to grow?

Each of us has “TouchStones” stored in our brains that affect your energy level. “TouchStones” are memories which are big reference points for our thoughts and feelings.

They are memories of where “the door opened” to new meaning in our lives.

Door Open Close

Negative memories are linear and they are managed by the left hemisphere. The left hemisphere will give you whatever negative memory or collection of them you need to sustain isolating and playing it safe.

The left hemisphere will store your memories of a “door that closed” so that you don’t even consider where a new door could or even already has opened.

Negative memories and their patterns lose their power to create isolation and the host of other issues that comprise structures of blocked, negative energy by the way they are integrated by the right hemisphere. There are over 100 billion neurons and thousands of connections that are at work here, either holding you back or moving you outward into a healthy exchange with the world around you, into new ways of thinking and feeling.

Brain Evolution2The left hemisphere of your brain will remember a “touchstone,” particularly a negative one, in a factual way that fits how you use it.

Your right hemisphere recalls a memory within a much larger context, and transforms negative energy into positive, open, and attachment-oriented energy.

Negative memories and their patterns lose their power to create isolation and the host of other issues that comprise structures of blocked, negative energy by the way they are integrated by the right hemisphere.

There are over 100 billion neurons and thousands of connections that are at work here, either holding you back or moving you outward into a healthy exchange with the world around you.

This is the benefit. You unblock your psychic energy and you become freer and much more able to be in an UpSpiral, where you learn faster, are more creative, and “feel good.” This increase in positive energy is a “lubricant” that allows your brain to function with greater ease and integrity.

The experience of sadness and loss is a process. Life is a process, and we are also the author of our processes of attachment in life that creates, unfolds, and allows the process of life to evolve.

If we demand that our lives remain fixed, and the possessions, plans, and lives of those to whom we are attached remain constant, we become fixated in a way that turns against the emerging health and growth of our bodies and minds. It is a significant root cause of what makes us ill.Move Forward

We are made for attachment, and because of that, we are often detaching to evolve and move on, even when it seems to make no sense. For example, detachment from expectations can be an important discipline when we are attached to things that will not come through for us– things that will not supply what they seem to promise.

Attachment to the space that occurs in suffering and loss, and attachment to what can come from tragedy, is the process of the ongoing evolution of life.

And our very health, vitality, and resilience in this life all depend upon it.

Copyright © 2015 The Applied Neuroscience Institute