Archive - 2015

The Laser Beam Of Negativity
The Right To Be Happy
You Are Designed To Grow Your Brain
Brain Change At Any Age
12 New Steps
How Do You Experience Hope?
Integrating Memory In Your Brain
HOPE: The “Heartbeat” Of Your Life
Flourishing: Living The Integrated Life
Brain Coupling: I CU, UC ME

The Laser Beam Of Negativity



The whole purpose of NeuroPositivity is to move your life into transition.  Yes, transition.

No, it is not just for feeling good.  Feeling good for a while is a like a laser beam being aimed on what doesn’t fit a life of joy.  Nothing makes you more aware of the negativity in your life that being in an UpSpiral for a long period of time.  When we begin to pay sharper attention to the negatives that work against feeling good, we inevitably encounter our saboteur.

Self-sabotage exists in all of us and is the way we take the joy out of our life.  The saboteur hides, it is our blind side, our dark side, our shadow side and it likes nothing better than to hide in our daily negative review of the world going to hell and the weather being too hot.  It hides in the cynical review of the latest film or the clever put down of the person who has most recently achieved something significant.

We need the “laser beam” negativity to avoid facing the way we self-sabotage.  The saboteur hides in our shame and our self-rejection.The saboteur hides in what we complain about, what we don’t like, where we should be leading a revolution, and the general misery of the world.  Self-sabotage hides in our focus on what is negative and wrong, as we think we feel smarter and smarter and more in balance and in moderation.  Joy should never have a free hand, we might really change then.  Peace should only be occasional, and hope should not be enough to make the impossible possible.

When feeling good is given free reign, it lasers in on what causes our negativity and it brings the saboteur into the light.  We decide, after feelings good and learning to be positive, that it is time to deal with the shadow side, the dark side and to see it for the thief it is and the lie that we are not worthy of happiness.

The encounter with the saboteur, with the shadow, with the dark side of our blind side, is not fun, but feeling good over a period of time has changed our focus so much that we simply refuse to tolerate what no longer fits into our life of feeling good, optimistic, and learning to savor love and peace and joy.

NeuroPositivity is not “happy, happy, happy.” It is meaning making, and it is the decision to bring a particular kind of focus and attention to our lives.  That focus organizes our negative thinking and our negative feelings in such a way that we move into a major life transition for which the question is, “how do I want my life to be?”  How do I want to live my life, how do I want to feel, how do I want to think, what will be the nature and life of hope and joy within me?

The emerging decision can be to sell out to self-sabotage and continue to bring ourselves down by this or that way of defense and pretense, or it can be that we want to be happy and manage negativity, rather than give it free reign or lie to ourselves about how necessary our “victim” misery is to our manipulation of others.

NeuroPositivity is basic to the evolution of the human species.

It is the fuel that allows higher and more complex stages of reasoning to emerge in the neurocognitive development of the brain, that goes on until we die, but only if we allow it.

The Right To Be Happy

Apologies No


Happiness is best achieved when it is a clear goal of pursuit.

You don’t have to apologize because you want to be happy in life.

You do not have to feel that you are less sophisticated or more selfish because happiness is a direct and clear goal.  You are not less holy.  Those who graduate with degrees in finance are not pretending that making money is not their intent and there are a lot of Ivy League graduates who have prepared for a career in finance who would be best advised to make happiness and not piles of money their more primary pursuit.

You also do not have to pay a suffering fee in order to gain permission to be happy.  You will make mistakes but there is no misery toll to be one of these privileged seekers of happiness. It is not a country club of the saintly who have “given” enough to get in. You will also not have to give up wisdom as financiers and bankers often have done.

It can be a direct pursuit for its own sake, no apologies or reasons need be offered.

In fact, those people most likely to be happy are those who make it a direct pursuit.  I believe that happiness is so important, and it is born out in the research, that most everyone should have the opportunity, if only for a time, to have a happiness coach or guru.

First of all, the pursuit of happiness is a guaranteed right in the American Constitution, right along with life and liberty.Pursuit HappinessMany people aren’t sure if it’s a right.  IT’S A RIGHT.  You want it or not?

You want to suffer and pay a price, go ahead.

It works for some who need to justify their happiness.  Believe it or not, there are those with enough common sense to believe that they are happy.  There are those who, rather than work at it, have discovered happiness as a way of life.

You were made for happiness just like you were made to evolve, and happiness underwrites evolution.  It helps it along enormously.

We are learning more and more about some of the factors.  But the “how” is not nearly as important as the decision to be clear about pursuing it.  The “how” will follow the intention.  Gratitude probably leads the list, at least right now.

What is important to realize is that you do not help your pursuit of happiness by thinking you have to delay it.  You are just simply ignorant of the research if you think happiness is a by-product you can’t directly pursue.

In discovering happiness, people have the right to do it wrong, to make mistakes, to adjust course.  Of course there will be those who will be silly and frivolous about it: but they will not outnumber those in finance who are ridiculous in their pursuit and even more frivolous with making meaning in their lives.

Energy Intention

 Each day, ask yourself as often as you can, will what I am thinking, feeling, doing, planning, move me toward being happy or away from it?

There will be a growing response in your gut that will answer the question with greater and greater accuracy, if you intend that it will.  We learn from asking that question, not pretending that we are above it, more sophisticated and learned or loftier in our pursuits.

We learn our way by being honest in our right to the pursuit of it, not in lying to ourselves and others that we will come by it by being above it with our pretense that it is not what we want essentially.

Our happiness will most bless those who have to put up with us, especially those we seek to “help.”  And it will most inspire and guide those whose noble goal is to understand and relieve suffering; it will renew them and clarify the measure for their own good and the good of others.

© Dr. William K. Larkin 

You Are Designed To Grow Your Brain


Brain Building


…at any age!

We used to think that neurogenesis (the production of new neurons & brain networks) stopped at a certain point in life, and that our brains were fixed with neurons that were in place at that time.

We now know that the growth and change of neurons in the brain continues until we die. Neurons are formed in the marrow of our bones, move up the spine, and are distributed where they are needed –this is neurogenesis.

Just as the brain continues its growth and development through neurogenesis, so there are developmental stages of life after 40. We now know that there is way more to human growth and development than the traiditional developmental stages in childhood.

We are not fixed, we are designed to unfold, we are designed for evolution. Your plastic brain can change greatly in the second half of life, right up to death, if you will let it. We can think new thoughts and especially feel new feelings that change the plasticity of the brain. Is it is not true that “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks”.

If that old dog is going to stay alive and healthy, it has to learn some new tricks, lots of them and be willing to do so.

The brain is designed to change itself structurally, in order to handle ever more sophisticated stages of thinking and reasoning that appear as we mature.


Monet painted almost until he died. He was blind to the full color spectrum, but the Germans made special glasses for him, and his best work was in the last third of his life. Politics aside, Supreme Court justices live long lives because thinking and reasoning grows and lives in them. Rabbis live long lives, thinking about ethics and justice. Astronomers live the longest of all professionals ( they are focused on getting the “real” wider view of things).

At the root of this increased longevity and aliveness is this: we give up some short-term memory for getting the larger picture or the wider vision (wisdom), as we grow older.

Our brains are not meant for “diddle” as we mature. They are meant for unfolding larger perspectives of life, that means thinking and reasoning differently and more expansively.

It’s the “ultimate brain game.”

© Dr. William K. Larkin 



Brain Change At Any Age


Think Differently

In your desire to grow a more positive mind, your neurons are actually doing that growing.

Your mind has an enormous capacity to program the growth, the structure and the nature of your brain.

We already know that the brain has this capacity to be highly malleable, called neuroplasticity.

Your brain will wander if you let it wander, it will unfold if you just want life “to unfold.”

Or it will grow in a positive direction that enlarges your strengths, sheds the negativity of the past, and increases your creativity and your intelligence, your joy and your capacity to “feel good.”

And it will do so all of your life until you die.

Until recently, neural networks in adults have been thought to be fixed and immutable, without the potential to regenerate.

No longer. Current research has overcome this view and has shown that the formation of new nerve cells (neurogenesis) also takes place in the adult brain.

Neurogenesis can be promoted by new learning, physical exercise, and most significantly by growing a more positive mind, more frequently accessing positive emotion, and growing deeper meaning in your life.

Little could be more frightening than taking on positivity seriously, because it would mean so many changes in our culture – a culture of victims always chasing some kind of healing, and so involved in healing that living life is obscured and the pursuit of happiness is viewed as a hope rather than a constitutionally guaranteed right.

© Dr. William K. Larkin 


12 New Steps

12 New Steps LRG CVR3



A book from Dr. William K. Larkin, Director, The Applied Neuroscience Institute.

This is the handbook of the first positive 12 Step group in the world, and the first positive 12 Step group in history.

This is your guide to growing and deepening positivity, a deeper meaning in your life, leading to a personal vision and powerful attraction.

From the book:

“The decision to be happy is radical. The decision to live in an UpSpiral of “positivity being” is radical.

The decision to allow “positivity being” to root you and ground you and be your truth is radical. It means that you are going to believe more in the power of your own strengths, desires, hopes, thoughts and emotions than you are going to believe in negativity.

It is not that negativity is wrong or useless; it has its job to do as long as you don’t live there. The job of negativity is to tell you that you are not moving in the direction of your own happiness and your own heart.

Most people believe that if they were not negative, they could not protect themselves. That’s why the decision to be happy is so radical. Along the way you give up negativity as a way of personal safety.

Actually, you won’t even want it.

Giving up negativity is a hard thing for people who have spent a lifetime learning to be cynical and cleverly catty in just the right incisive and cutting ways. It’s hard to give up the laughs and the fear it creates in others when you can just really, really be cutting. As wise and clever as negativity may make you feel, and as much of an addictive escape as it is from finding real solutions, it undermines the power of the decision to be happy.

As you become happier, you will give up negativity more and more because it will just not work for you.

You will discover and live your strengths, and they will always deliver for you.”


How Do You Experience Hope?


Hope Sun


How do you define hope for yourself?

How do you experience it?

What prompts you to feel hope?

Most everyone sees “HOPE” from a problem-oriented basis, as “resilience” to an adversity, rather than a symptom of a larger-approach-to-life issue, that is the natural growth of the brain and the evolution of consciousness.

The issue is not whether you are resilient, but how you respond to novelty, and to what degree it’s threat or safety.

No one asks: is there a deeper issue than a response to adversity going on here -a response to life in general and a particular time in life?

Adversity just draws attention to the need for something that is vital to transition.

Mind Opened

The real adversity is what draws your life into the future, and how you are cooperating with that unfolding change into a new consciousness, or holding on to an old way of seeing reality.  That has to affect the movement of information from right to left hemisphere, but there are only inklings of research there.

The frame is wrong and the focus on adversity is too narrow. The term “resilience” normally suggests a special set of abilities or strengths, rather than a response to an expanding consciousness, trying to question meaning and the core of life satisfaction, navigating personal transitions.

The response to adversity is “to get better” or to “get over it and go on with life,” rather than “What Do YOU Want, How do you want to live?”

Real Einstein

Or even more importantly…what is working in your life that is meaningful and what is meaningful in your life, BUT that is an illusion, providing “no cookies in your cookie jar,” even though the jar seems really, really important?

What’s your “cookie jar?” What’s in your “cookie jar” that has deep meaning and is personally significant for you?

What’s in your “cookie jar” that’s an illusion, asking for release?

©Dr. William K. Larkin


Integrating Memory In Your Brain


Brain Caged

All through our lives, NeuroPositive being helps us grow in our capacity for secure, healthy attachments and more workable, comfortable, and loving relationships. Insecure, unhealthy attachments come from negative feelings and from DownSpiral living.

The DownSpiral “cages” your brain, captive and narrow.

The DownSpiral narrows us, makes us suspicious and insecure, so it is easy to understand why insecure or unhealthy attachments of any kind are the outcome of narrowing 
and negativity.

Secure attachment that is easier and more reciprocal comes from UpSpiral living, where positive feelings and being are an outcome of living in this UpSpiral for longer and longer periods of time.

But why is this the case?

Over the period of our lifetime, our task is one 
of integration of the negatives of the past and present into a greater whole of positivity, understanding, and acceptance. That is what the brain is doing as we become more positive. If we are becoming more negative, we can’t do this kind 
of positive integration. In fact, more dis-integration occurs.

DownSpiral Red

In a DownSpiral,
we become more distrustful, more negative, more narrow, and we make choices to close ourselves off from the attachments that are full and healthy. Our attachments become more narrow, and integration of the negative into a more positive “whole” can’t happen. This integration or wholeness of our experience is a major task of the maturing adult. When it doesn’t happen, depression, dis-ease, and a disconnection with one’s self, others, and life is the result.

The left side of the brain, the left hemisphere, is that part of the brain that remembers negative memories, and it does this very well. It remembers them pretty much in order, like a list, and it remembers the details –but particularly the negative details in a very one-sided way –the way the person wants to remember them.

The more negative the memory, the more it is cut off from the right side of the brain, the right hemisphere. This right hemisphere remembers things differently. It remembers things more as a whole and more in the context in which they happened. It remembers with a wider view or a wider perspective; it gets and sees more of the whole picture.

In fact, the right side of the brain can store the greater details of a situation and be shut off from the left side of the brain so that the two recollections and ways of seeing the negative thing or the negative memory are cut off from each other. Putting them back together again is called integration. But experiences can be so negative or painful that they can be “jammed” by the left hemisphere in such a way that they never make it to the other side, so to speak.

Are you left or right brained or is neither side dominant? The

The whole process we see in getting older that we call “mellowing” or “softening” is probably this process at work in our lives.

Over time, we open up and let the 
right side of the brain take the wider look and include more of the over-all picture. We understand things differently. We understand that our fathers or mothers or friends came from situations where their lives were difficult, and we understand that people, including ourselves, do things they wouldn’t ordinarily do if they were upset or pressured, or just humanly made mistakes once in awhile.

People with healthy, secure attachments find it generally easier to let go, step back, and let this kind of wider understanding happen.

The greater the frequency of insecure, unhealthy attachments, the harder it is for the most part not to hold on to negative memories, hurts, and experiences. Here is where positivity being is very important.

The more we can experience positivity and the UpSpiral, and build stronger positive emotions, the more trusting and open we are likely to become.

©Dr. William K. Larkin

HOPE: The “Heartbeat” Of Your Life

Hope Changes


The week has started, and you are on your way. This week, assign an emotion to each day that takes up all of your “mental space” space instead of just letting your mind wander aimlessly.

Today is feel HOPE Monday.

Just for today, see if you can feel a feeling of “hope.” It doesn’t have to be a lot; it can be just a little. Just FEEL it.

It is not enough to “think” hope- YOU HAVE TO FEEL IT.

HOPE on Monday doesn’t have to be directed toward a specific object. It doesn’t have to be hope for a thing or for a person, but it can be, so long as you feel hope. You see, “feeling” is the key. It is the experience of HOPE LIVED FOR TODAY, even if it’s just a little bit, that is important to grow the neuropathways in your brain into greater and greater strength and connectedness.

All day long, feel hope.

Hope Change

PULSE it, get a hold of a little of the feeling, and pulse it with the beat of your heart: “hope, hope, hope, hope.”

You are alive, pulse hope. The sky is blue, pulse hope. The sun is shining, pulse hope. The world is full of the aliveness of evolving goodness and growth, pulse hope. Regardless of last night’s newscast, pulse hope. There is blood surging through your veins, pulse hope.

You have this choice to live in hope for no reason other than that you can –you can choose to do so. It beats depression, it beats feeling down, it beats being in a DownSpiral, or heading in that direction. It for sure beats waiting for something on the outside of you to give you hope.

Make a list of everything that has made you happy and everything that you like. Feel the feelings of those things and get more used to feeling positive emotions than negative, DownSpiral feelings. You decide where your focus will go.

Hope for today is a great place to start.

Hope Reeve

Feeling hope is a choice you make because you fix your attention and focus on things that give you hope. Everything in your brain, from your hippocampus to your reticular activating formation –these parts of the limbic reptilian brain, the “old brain” in you- are set up to cooperate with your frontal lobes and an executive decision you are making about what do with a feeling that can be elusive. Hope can get caught up and lost in the rush of just reacting to everything on the outside of you.

If you are used to worrying and feeling negative feelings, it doesn’t really matter if you have the right to them or if you’re just used to them. They don’t help you live today and the rest of the days of your life.

Nursing the negatives and the losses does not give life meaning. So move on and get used to some new good feelings, get used to some new good places to go, or look at your life with new hopeful eyes, knowing that the breath of life moves through you and you can experience the sunrise and the sunset.


Focus on feelings that make you feel good, focus on what you like, and focus on what you want. Feel hope 500 hundred times a day, if just for a few seconds. Feeling it a little at first, and then feel it a little more.

Make today a special Monday. It is the day you feel HOPE, HOPE, HOPE for no other reason that you can choose to do so, and because it is hope that tells the brain to think and plan and create, and evolve into the higher structures of reasoning and aliveness that are waiting for us to live out.

©Dr. William K. Larkin


Flourishing: Living The Integrated Life

“To flourish means to live within an optimal range of human functioning, one that connotes goodness, generativity, growth and resilience.

Dr. Barbara Fredrickson


Flourish Card


Research suggests that fewer than 20% of American adults flourish, and that the costs of languishing are high relative to flourishing, and comparable to depression.

Languishing brings more emotional diseases, psycho-social impairment, limitations in daily activities, and lost work days.

Generativity is a term that applies to an experience that unfolds, grows, and fulfills its natural, life-giving purposes.

Generativity is the great task of the integrated life that is creative and productive and shares its wisdom, which is far more than knowledge; it is lived “knowing,” and higher stages of consciousness give us more of it.

The opposite of generativity is the opposite of integration- disintegration.  It is manifest most in bitterness, blame, feuding, and projection, even despair.

Despair Hope

Negative memories lose their wind and seem less and less to matter in the integrated, generative life.

In the life that cannot integrate and be generative, grudges and resentments go to the grave.

Blame replenishes self-hate and self-justification, and destroys the accuracy of memory by deleting it or by adding fabrication that is the deep source of your “personal hell.”

Dante had it right.

The innermost ring of hell is saved for “the betrayer”- those who murder others with their own self-hate- those who “assassinate” others, the ultimate lack of self- integration, and the opposite of generativity.

If the inner voice of our self-saboteur cannot get us to give up trying, it will work to diminish the sense of the goodness in any act of caring, and any amount of joy or satisfaction we might derive from it.

The success of the saboteur rests in our own self-rejection, however minimal.

Positivity is an enormous force of evolution and transition in our lives. It is the WD-40 of moving into higher and more complex stages of neurocognitive development.


Brain Novel

We have a whole right hemisphere that is largely dedicated to novelty -to new learning and integration of what is already known. It does not stop doing that regardless of your age!

These growing and always more sophisticated interconnections of neuropathways increase our consciousness of the larger view of what our life is about.

We are always being pulled onward, but we also self-sabotage our progress and undermine our natural growth.

Nothing makes this more visible to us than learning about positivity.

More than positive thinking and feeling, more than being happy, but inclusive of them, positivity is a way of greasing the growth of the mind so that we do not stall the expansion of our intelligence and knowing.

©Dr. William K. Larkin

Brain Coupling: I CU, UC ME


1 Lonely

Everyone knows what it’s like to be lonely.

It often happens during life’s transitions: when a student leaves home for college, when an unmarried businessman takes a job in a new city, or when an elderly woman outlives her husband and friends. Bouts of loneliness are a melancholy fact of human existence.

Nearly all of the research shows that it is not diet or exercise but strong social connections- that is, friendships are the key to both longer and more satisfying living.

Are we surprised?

Social Glue

Researchers report that loneliness accelerates age-related declines in cognition and motor function, while a single good friend has been shown to make as much as a 10-year difference in overall life expectancy.

A huge meta-study performed in part at Brigham Young University, which reviewed 148 studies with a combined 308,849 subject participations, found that loneliness is just as harmful to health as not exercising, smoking 15 cigarettes a day, and alcoholism, and fully twice as bad as being obese.

Some of this stems from the fact that isolated people tend to exercise less, eat poorly, and drink too much. But some researchers believe that loneliness has a negative health impact all on its own.

When loneliness becomes a chronic condition, the impact can be far more serious, says John Cacioppo, a social psychologist at the University of Chicago in Illinois.

In numerous studies over the past 30 years, Cacioppo, the pioneer of the biological study of loneliness, has found that lonely people have chronically elevated levels of the stress and fear hormones cortisol and epinephrine.

In a 2007 paper published in Genome Biology, Cacioppo even demonstrated a correlation between loneliness and the activity of certain genes associated with systemic inflammation, elevating risk for viral invasion and cardiovascular disease.

“Loneliness is far more than a social misfortune; it is a significant problem of health and happiness that is distinct from but contributes to the likelihood of depression,” says Cacioppo.

You can have a ton of friends and still feel lonely and isolated.

Alone Crowd

Here are some basic questions for measuring friendship.

Can your friends hear what you’re really saying, do they “get you”?

Do your friends, even one, identify with what you’re feeling so you have the experience of felt feelings?

Who are you understanding?

Who’s understanding you?

This capacity to hear what you’re really saying and feel your feelings is the power of “brain coupling.”

What kind of friends do you want?

The kind of friends you most need, in fact, there might be only one, but you desperately need this one kind of friend. That is the friend who can hear you and feel what you feel. And this means that you do the same for them.

If you read this far, here is the most important kernel of truth.

If you want friends who hear what you say and feel what you feel, who give you the experience of understanding, you have to be able to do the same.

Brain coupling goes both ways.

Brain Coupling

If you want to be a really good friend, what helps most is if you know what you think and you can differentiate that from what you feel.

For coaches, it’s an absolute essential to be masters of this skill of brain coupling.

©Dr. William K. Larkin



Copyright © 2015 The Applied Neuroscience Institute