Archive - December 2016

The “Idle, Daydreaming” Brain
Are You Too Optimistic?
Your Strengths Are Your “Values”

The “Idle, Daydreaming” Brain


The brain is never idle and never inactive.  The brain is always at work, especially when we sleep.

Today I went to one of my favorite places, the 99 cent store, to pick up one thing. I went in without a list and I spent $34.00 on 34 things.

I’m happy to report that I DID get the one thing I went to get.  I have gone to the store without a list and come home with several things except what I went for.

That’s a simple story, but the lesson is there -the brain needs a list or a specific goal in focus or it shops everywhere for everything.

We need to tell the brain what we want it to do, we need to have focus and attention, and we need to practice that focus and attention so we can stay on track.  That includes “idle time”.  We think that daydreaming is idle time, but the brain is still working.

Studies show us that idle time, where the brain can wander can be creative.  However, if the thoughts of the brain go in a negative direction, the result is anxiety, dread, fear or discomfort -the sense of threat at some level.  That moves us into the sympathetic nervous system of “threat” or fight/flight, our cortisol rises and the hormones of stress kick into gear.

Thyroxin, which is long-term adrenaline, can stay in the system as long as 4 days.  Idle time spent daydreaming that goes in a negative direction is not healthy.

My advice is that daydreaming is fine as long as you manage it and keep it going in a positive direction, and that will be more creative.

Daydreaming that goes off in a negative direction is like going to a store where there is nothing you need, lots of things you don’t need and bringing the especially bad things home.

My critics will say that the negative day-dreaming brings up issues that need to be resolved.  I disagree.  I think that’s not true.

Negative issues that need to be addressed are those that continue to rise up in us in one way or another.

If we get everyday needless negative feelings out of the way and build up a positive reservoir, the truly negative things will focus because you will have a greater sense of security (safety) in allowing them to do so from this more positive base that we have built.

It is often the negative feelings of an idle brain that creates rumination, worrying, dream and a sense of threat.

© Dr. William K. Larkin 

Are You Too Optimistic?


Can you be?

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





Your Strengths Are Your “Values”



Strengths are also called virtues and values because of their fundamental importance. They are your ways of “being” who you really are. They are your “mental compass.”

These superhighways of neuropathways are unique to you and they are the only ones that you can travel and be who you really are.

Your values, as your strengths, are who you are. Get off the highway and some voice within you, rst of all your feelings, will start to give you messages that you need to change your direction, make a turn, take the next exit and go back – just as surely as the GPS system for a car won’t give up until you’re on the right track.

The greater your alignment, your consistency and your focus is on your strengths, the more in alignment with your Real Self you are going to feel.

You will feel more in sync, more in control, more in harmony, more like you are “in your own skin.”

It is when we play to our weaknesses that we begin to feel “out of sync,” disconnected, out of alignment, anxious, frustrated, and in a state of discord.

The more you use your strengths, that are also your basic values and virtues, the happier you will be.

Restless, listless, out-of-sync, unsettled and out of your own skin; these are the word that describe us when we are not playing to our strengths. They are the things we experience when we are playing to our weaknesses.

When you know your strengths (because they have been scientifically tested) it’s easier to play to your strengths so long as you stay in an UpSpiral.

In a DownSpiral or when we are down spiraling, we will not play to our strengths, but rather to their opposites, which are our weaknesses or our character defects.

The opposites of our strengths are wonderful things because they warn us by feeling restless, listless, out-of-sync, unsettled, bored, irritable, and frustrated. The more we play to our weaknesses the worse these things get.

Your weaknesses that are the opposite of your strengths are uniquely yours. Only you really know what they are.

Take a piece of paper and list your strengths, then list what is the opposite of that strength for you.

How does the weakness side of the strengths show up for you?

What is your unique way of doing and “being” the opposite of your strengths, your VALUES?

© Dr. William K. Larkin 

Copyright © 2015 The Applied Neuroscience Institute