Archive - 2016

Aging, Losing Your Marbles?
NeuroPositive Coach Training
The “Motherboard” Of Your UpSpiral Brain
Separation: The Enormous Cost
The Resilient, Evolving Brain
Moving Beyond Trauma
Rise Up With Your Strengths
Moving Through Grief & Loss
Optimism Or Depression?
The DNA Of Positivity

Aging, Losing Your Marbles?

Marbles 2

You may know or have even used the expression “losing your marbles” to describe the reality of aging.

The truth is that your marbles do get rearranged, and its perfectly normal – if you evolve.

We don’t just think thoughts, we think from a structure of reasoning.   There are ways we reason, connected something like a hair net, that connect a way of thinking that is predictable and can be measured.

Structures of reasoning are developmental and that they are supposed to be developing all of our lives.

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.

Alzheimer’s has a very long onset. It starts much earlier than we have believed. It begin as much as 25 years or more when younger people start to rigidify and become resistant to novelty, to learning new things, and to being open to new ideas.

The structure of your brain is designed to change. There are neurodevelopmental changes, cognitive changes, that are like stages of growth that change the “hair net” of reasoning in your brain.

You grow older, you grow wiser, deeper, the nature of your reasoning becomes more expansive.

Your marbles change around and you use them differently, with remarkable new perceptions, if you allow it to happen.

© Dr. William K. Larkin 

NeuroPositive Coach Training

NeuroPositive™ Research & Applications
Course 1

Mind Body

This Course is a 20 week in-depth exploration of the integration of significant research in the neuroscience and positive psychology of life coaching.

Whether you are an already trained coach, counselor, yoga, wellness or fitness trainer, business or non-profit executive leader, or are just anxious to launch a coaching practice, the purpose of this course is to learn the neuroscience, positive psychology, and NeuroPositive™ coaching tools which ground our coaching model, the NeuroPositive Method.™

The NeuroPositive Method ™ is a research based, neuroscience framework for life coaching, increasing the positive neuroplasticity of the brain, integrated with an intensive focus on developing positive and powerful coaching strategies and interventions.

This is the practical “how to” of everyday neuroplasticity for growth and development, for personal & organizational excellence–for yourself & for your clients.

Professional NeuroPositive™ Life Coaches are expert guides and teachers of the optimally well-lived life that creates high levels of life satisfaction and deeper reservoirs of personal resilience, personal strength, and a sense of personal meaning and significance.

Because they know the neuroscience and work with brain neuroplasticity, NeuroPositive™ coaches know what works, they know why, and they know that the methods and tools of The NeuroPositive Method ™ get the results they want with clients.

Learn about neuroception and the growth from threat to safety, by understanding how to move from the “fight/ flight” response to the capacity to activate your “calm/connect” response — which your healthy body wants more.

You’ll also be trained in the neuroscience of strengths, the science of optimism and resilience, the neuroscience and psychology of coaching clients through change & transition, and you will learn 4 neuroscience-based client assessment scales which give you a precise picture of client progress.

And much more.

$1995 with a $300 award for pre-registration with full payment.

An additional $500 award is available if you refer a friend or colleague who completes a registration for this Course.

This Course is approved by the ICF. CEUs are available.

Split payment plans for the full tuition are available with a downpayment of $300.

(760) 636-1400

The “Motherboard” Of Your UpSpiral Brain

Brain Wires

You’re growing the UpSpiral of your brain, the “motherboard” of positivity, meaning, and a growing sense of personal significance.

Your brain is reorganizing and building a huge new superhighway, and there is a little traffic congestion of your many, many thoughts and feelings everyday.

You’re tired and you want a break, and you want something new, very new, and while your brain is trying to get the superhighway built, some of your other roads are worn and clogged, and being defragged and forgotten. And the meaning you thought you had is slipping through your fingers.

You feel like you’ve hit a brick wall.

Your brain feels scrambled because you’re putting in a new mother board, and it’s only half installed. So you have to rely on the old system, half of which is unplugged until the rest of your mother board is fully installed -that will be about 2 years or more depending upon how much you resist, and get depressed, and hide.

When the superhighway is built and you start zipping across it, who knows what “debris” you will have left behind, but this is all very normal, very predictable. It feels crazy and it feels like the world tastes like dirt.

Everything has lost its savor, like the junk food you used to like that isn’t good for you, and it needs to change.

But that is just part of the new super highway mother board.

One day again, you will zip even faster than before, the sun will rise on a new day, and your real friends will marvel at how wise you have become and how much more sense you make, how you’ve “changed.”

Someone should have told you that this is something like menopause: you can make it really miserable or you can set aside the fear because this is all very normal.

You can’t fully move into your new brain until all the wiring is done, so pulse gratitude while you wait and have some fun, think about what you really want,  and see what happens to your brick walls.

I know that you think your past life was difficult, even seen as traumatic, and you may now even believe that you wasted many of those years. But that isn’t the truth, if you will consider that it has been your ride and you’re going to be uniquely wise because of it.

I promise you that your neighbors and friends are going to be surprised.  When the new board is installed finally, and new meaning is there and you run it around your brain, you’re going to be happy you went through this growth.

You have to stop feeding the old dogs that really aren’t there, and you have to find some new dogs to feed that give you back what you are now clear that you want.

© Dr. William K. Larkin 

Separation: The Enormous Cost

Us Them

Separating myself from another person has an ENORMOUS cost.

It is the kind of separation that is in my head and causes me to cast someone out of my inner circle of “loving” into my inner circle of “not caring.”

We usually do it because of anger or fear or both.

We are afraid that we will be hurt by them, and so we put them in a place in our mind that is “separate” from our caring, loving heart.

They are an outsider “inside of me.”

That is separation.

That separation distances us from the knowing and embodying a sense of Oneness.

The more disconnected we are from this sense of Oneness, the more we have lessened our vibration to draw to ourselves the things and people that we really want.


Because our alignment with our real self means being aligned with love.

Love is Source Energy within us, and it is our essential nature.

Forgiveness is not simply a matter of “forgiving and letting go of anger, dislike and disgust.”

Forgiveness is restoring our own inner “Oneness” by not casting outside the inner circle of our love anyone who has let us down, betrayed us, or caused us to personalize their indiscretion, in such a way that we believe that their shortcoming is about us instead of them.

We reduce the power of the “One” within us when we create inner mental “compartments” for the “outcasts” in our lives.

Those inner compartments reduce the vibration which creates our world, and draws rapidly and powerfully to us what we are really wanting.

© Dr. William K. Larkin 

The Resilient, Evolving Brain

Neurons in the Brain

The recent attention to hope is significant and important, so important that we added the State Of Mind of hope to our Emotional Gym

But those who write about and research hope are still fixated by how they cast it as a “resilient resistant” skill set.

“Resilient resistance” rather than the capacity to move through life transitions in ways that evoke growth and forward movement, growth.

The problem comes from seeing hope from a problem-oriented basis, as “resilience” to an adversity, rather than a symptom of a larger approach to life issues, life transitions, that is the outcome of the natural growth and evolution of the brain, 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 at particular time in life?

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

The real adversity is what draws your life into the future, and how are you cooperating with that unfolding change into a new consciousness, or holding onto 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 framework is wrong and the focus on adversity is too narrow.

The term resilience 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.

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

The issue isn’t whether you “bounce back.”

The issue is how you want to live and why.  The issue is adjusting to unfolding neurocognitive development and what it means to think and reason differently, undoing self-sabotage in the process, if necessary.

Resilience is not one set of permanently learned, default skills; it is different things at different times in life.

You invent hope differently at different stages of your life, and the transitions of your life.  And what you invent has to come from someplace in you that “believes” something.

We despair when we cannot find with some degree of clarity what it is that we believe.

© Dr. William K. Larkin 

Moving Beyond Trauma

Trauma Family

Perhaps one of the most popular approaches emerging from social work and public health is to help mothers with PTSD to deal with their infants so that they don’t reproduce their angst and stress in their young children.

The latest and best research in this area is the Polyvagal Theory by Dr. Stephen Porges. This truly is not theory, but rather the most significant and substantial research we have today in the area of what predisposes us to sympathetic nervous system, cortisol-driven, learned responses to trauma of any kind.

Trauma is trauma, just in degrees.

Focus on the trauma, and you will grow the reptilian brain’s identification with the trauma.

However, if you entirely change the focus to the parasympathetic potentials of the brain, and its very different different neuropathways, you grow a brain more frontal-lobe dependent.

I can promise you that whatever the past may be, that the future is always more compelling, if we will allow that change in our billion dollar, pharma-based, overly medicalized culture.

This “if” requires a huge shift from our focus on healing the past as the solution.


Once more, the future is more compelling than our past is in binding us.

We build that compelling future by taking the attention away from the focus on trauma, and place it on the discovery of scientifically tested strengths and their growth, and on identifying and growing the ever-present resiliency of the person.

Time is a great healer, when that time is filled with a focus on “can do”, “can be”, “can care”, “can give”, “can achieve”, “can find meaning”, “can find purpose”, “can contribute”, can learn one’s strengths, and can love others.

We are more compelled by the future than we are bound by the past.

Evolution depends on that truth!

We will never create the perfect world where mothers only pass on to their children high vagal tone, more resistant to trauma.

We can, though, teach their offspring that mother is not to blame, and that resiliency to trauma and recovery are within our grasp.

© Dr. William K. Larkin 

Rise Up With Your Strengths

Strengths Categories

One of the strongest of our cultural myths is how we grow in virtue, how we become “strong,” how we develop “strong” people. It goes something like this: unless it’s a struggle before you have achieved it, it really doesn’t mean a lot.

What’s the myth? The myth is that strength and strengths are wrought from suffering. You really have to suffer. Research tells a different story.

Courage is wrought from strengths, and strengths are wrought from knowing what they are, not suffering through life trying to find them. Great men and women have come into their own greatness by circumstances and times that were right for them to grasp their strengths, to rise up and use their strengths.

What if that just happened every day? What if every day, here’s another day for you to grasp your strengths, here’s another day for you to use your strengths. Grow them and develop them. We want you to go use and try what you are naturally good at. That’s very hard to get people to do; it’s very hard to get people to apply that to their life.

The use of strengths, when you really get into using strengths, is intrinsically satisfying. That is what’s called “autotelic,” the simple appreciation and joy of using our own strengths. Strengths are self-reinforcing. But you have to believe that using a strength is going to help you, that it’s going to change you, that it’s going to be effective.

What keeps people who know their strengths from using them and from being in flow?

It is for sure the learned patterns of anxiety, fear, anger, and blaming, as a result of learning and living in our weaknesses and being trained in them before we discovered our strengths. We simply haven’t had as much training and experience with our strengths as we have had with their opposites, our weaknesses.

The most powerful motivator of using a strength is someone outside of us, consistently recognizing the strength in us. That’s what we do as coaches. Second is the intrinsic satisfaction of using the strengths that our clients begin to understand and use. This is the research of Dr. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and his work on psychological “flow.”

Suffering in and of itself has defeated more people in trying to find their strengths than it has ever enabled those who have grown from it and accidentally learned what their strengths are in the process. No pain, no gain? How about less needless pain, more positive emotion, more knowledge of strengths?

How about if we get into our minds that strengths and intrinsic satisfaction and flow are stronger motivators than fear and suffering and pain! The growth of strengths and the confidence to use strengths are fostered in an UpSpiral of positive emotion. That’s what we have to create.

Let’s say it again. The growth of strengths and the confidence to use strengths are fostered in an UpSpiral of positive emotion.

© Dr. William K. Larkin 

Moving Through Grief & Loss

Grief Wilder

Does positive emotion help?

The answer is yes.  Research published in the Journal of Positive Psychology shows us that positive emotion during a period of loss both lessens the intensity and the duration of negative feelings and depression.

Why would that be the case?

First of all, feelings of sadness aren’t necessarily negative unless they lead to a sense of hopelessness, despair, and helplessness.

Resilience is the issue here, and well-being in loss depends on a healthy awareness of sadness and loss –and the opportunity to express it.

Others tend to steer away from the topic of loss or the death of a loved one, just when someone needs to talk about feelings that are sad, lonely, and empty.

That sadness needs to be heard and shared.

Positive emotion helps because it forms a reservoir within us that can give meaning and a wider range of responses to grief.

Grieving, in the traditional sense, is not something that we have to do.  It is also just as possible to celebrate the life of a person, to appreciate their being, and to know that the essence that is carried in the “space suit” of physical existence is for this life, but also binds us to what is more.

We also need to encourage, especially in ourselves when we go through loss, the positive emotions: love, peace, gratitude, hope, and joy.

They can still be a part of our lives, even if we have to make a deliberate intention to practice them.

Take extra time to appreciate, to feel and express gratitude, and make a special attempt to notice what is beautiful and good.

And, most important, remember in gratitude the best parts.

In the case of a material or professional loss, especially look for the benefits.

They are often hidden and slow to appear if we are morose and always angry.

© Dr. William K. Larkin 

Optimism Or Depression?

Optimism Bias



Grounded in the rostral anterior cingulate and the amygdala comes the “optimism bias,” that is wired with an energy to keep us positively evolving.

What is interesting is that these parts of the brain are also most active in depression.

So we expect that when this capacity of these parts of the brain are checked in some way or dampened, depression results.

These parts of the brain are not the whole story of optimism, but they are a key to it.

The rostral anterior cingulate, a part of the frontal cortex, is involved with regulating emotion as is the amygdala, located in the limbic system of our basal fight/flight brain.

In other words, if we aren’t using this natural tendency of the brain toward optimism, it can be checked in such a way that the result is depression.

Consider that our natural course of evolution, of personal unfolding, has this optimism bias, and then consider that we can alter it enough to become depressed.

That’s a pretty significant change that we can create with the neuroplasticity in our brain.

If we get more accustomed to negative emotion than positive emotion, and if we forget to feel positive emotion, it is likely that we tone down or depress this bias for optimism.

We feel less positive and we expect less positive things in our life.

We learn not to use positive emotion in our lives because of any number of reasons. I call that “learned-non use of positive emotion”.

We can forget to exercise positive emotion just like we forget to use our muscles or work our bodies.

That’s why we have invented “The Emotional Gym”.

It is a way of exercising positive emotion, of keeping it moving and evolving for a life where we are able to feel strong levels of love, peace, gratitude, joy and hope.

© Dr. William K. Larkin 

The DNA Of Positivity

File Feb 06, 8 00 56 AM

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 brain 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 in the brain.

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 in 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 of new meaning.

© Dr. William K. Larkin 

Copyright © 2015 The Applied Neuroscience Institute