Author - Dr. William K. Larkin

NeuroPositive Coach Training
The “Motherboard” Of Your UpSpiral Brain
The Resilient, Evolving Brain
Rise Up With Your Strengths
Moving Through Grief & Loss
Optimism Or Depression?
The DNA Of Positivity
Coaching Clients In Transition
Thanks For The Memories
Cracking The Myth Of Relationships

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 

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 

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

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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 

Coaching Clients In Transition

Transition Labyrinth



It is a sense of personal significance that sustains a sense of meaning. We are meaning making all the days of our lives.

When a sense of personal significance is threatened it is because a way of making meaning in life no longer works to provide that sense of significance.

NeuroPositive Coaching builds a sense of meaning and personal significance in every client.

The NeuroPositive Method is a brain-based template for well-being at every stage of life.

One of the 7 steps of this method is goal-setting, what we call the “FuturePac.”

The issue that underlies the formation of goals is meaning-making. How do we make meaning? What are the constructs of meaning-making that provide a sense of personal significance? These “meanings” are different at different times in our lives, so a knowledge of developmental issues is important.

There are stages in life with different kinds of meaning attached to them, related to getting one’s needs met, having relationships, a sense of personal power and self, and finally transcendence of some sort or another that represents the attempt to encounter “oneness.”

As important as stages of development are, what’s perhaps even more important are the transitions between them. People who are solidly established in a stage of their development of meaning are not likely to seek coaching.

At least they are not as likely as someone whose life is blowing up and whose sense of meaning is disintegrating because they are in a transition between the stages of making sense of their life and their world.

We need to know how people are making meaning before we believe that their goals are real representations of something that will give them any kind of lasting value, if they, in fact, don’t just fizzle and are ever accomplished.

We especially need to know if a person is going through a life transition that is causing them to question meaning in their lives before we agree to assist them in attempting to put great effort into pursuing goals that will be fleeting, in either accomplishing them or in feeling any sense of fulfillment in having done so.

Every stage of life has its unique challenges in sustaining enough of an UpSpiral to do creative problem-solving, to create meaning, and to experience personal significance.

When this sense of personal significance wanes, so do eagerness, anticipation, and openness to experiencing life.

How we make meaning in our lives changes developmentally as we grow a more NeuroPositive brain.

Meaning Perspective

NeuroPositive Coaching gives clients the tools to successfully navigate the transitions of meaning making in every stage of life.

Each unfolding major life transition in adulthood has within it the potential of bringing greater wholeness.

These opportunities are often missed because they are diagnosed as mental illness, which can simply be a symptom of the poorly navigated transitions.

The brain in transition, changing its very structures of reasoning and meaning-making, is most at risk, but also most alive with potential.

Having the insight and vision to navigate these transitions is a highly developed coaching skill set, and a deeply significant time of education and guidance.

© Dr. William K. Larkin 



Thanks For The Memories


There are four kinds of memory

  1. Short term memory
  2. Working memory
  3. Long term memory
  4. Muscular memory

However, none of these terms really identify what memory means. Memory is essentially about association.

We remember because of our associations between things and people, and the strengths of those associations.

If you learned to ride a bicycle and you did a lot of riding, there is a strong set of associations with your muscles. The same would be true about dancing. Walking is muscle memory. You don’t hold onto the other forms of memory like you do muscle memory. Your life doesn’t depend on them nearly so much as you think.

Memory is not nearly so much about the past as it is the use of past associations to prop up and inform forward moving decision-making, planning, and living today.

A lot of memories are just as well forgotten when they don’t serve us to move on in the transitions of life.

Memory is not identity. Identity is much more.

We depend too much on memory to secure our identity. What if you could not tell someone who you were without referring to the past or to your work? What if you couldn’t tell people your story as a way of identifying yourself? We have an increasing number of centenarians who do not let memories get in their way and they are not “super-glued” to their opinions.

The brain is always covering over memories and recovering them with new material to be stored. The brain is also always trying to build new, more meaningful associations between neurons. You have heard that neurons that fire together, wire together.

It is also true that when you sleep, cortisol is busy in the stress of your negative dreams, defragging many of those useless associations that don’t serve the ongoing development of the brain. That’s what nightmares do – they defrag your brain using cortisol or stress in the process. Consider that your nightmares are your “cleaning crew.”

The brain is always changing. It is only when we will not let the brain change that we need to worry. The stronger your opinions, the tighter your perception squeaks, the more at risk you are.


As you grow older, your brain is going to change the amount of diddle you can remember because it has a larger task. The energy that used to go into ridiculous song lyrics, answers for tests, the names of people you don’t care about, phone numbers and things that make you think you are losing your memory, is trying to be redirected into a larger vision of yourself and the world,  literally a “new identity.”

You are losing some of your short-term memory, and it’s very natural. You might argue that there are people who never forget a thing, no matter what age. So it is possible to hoard memories like we hoard junk.

Right now, there are memories and associations your brain is waxing over, building a kind of scab over, neurons of memories that aren’t useful for an evolving mind. And it’s all very, very normal. What is not normal is to refuse to allow the brain the cleanse and rewire itself, and for the structures of the stages of neurocognitive development and wisdom to emerge.

We treat memories as though they were all precious gold. A few are, most are not, and you usually know the difference. But you are making a big mistake to rely on them for meaning. Don’t allow yourself to say that your memories are all you have. That’s a terrible admission that you aren’t using your brain to grow and evolve into the next stages of your life.

Memories are not simply pictures of the past; they are working elements in the brain that move us on and move us forward to a wider and deeper comprehension and consciousness of reality. If we are moving ahead in a healthy way, we are learning to know ourselves more accurately, to see others more clearly, absent of our projection onto them of what we need them to be for us.

We are freer, and we allow everyone around us greater freedom from our expectations.

© Dr. William K. Larkin 


Cracking The Myth Of Relationships

Myth Busted

We all have potentially 7 stages of meaning-making in our lives that represent significant changes in the way we see ourselves, others, and the world. These are big, big changes in us potentially.

The movement into higher stages of more complex reasoning is resisted by those who have a greater tendency to turn what represents potentially safer, higher ground in life, to threat.

It represents the fear of letting go of something that needs to be left behind.

The meaning making myth is blowing energy into something that you believe holds meaning for you, but in fact, does not.

You keep holding on to something or someone because of the belief that things will change, when it is you who needs to change and move on with your life.

Your sense of meaning is where your desire, belief, and open mind (or closed) are derived.

Hold on or let go?

Hold On

“Holding on” is often motivated by the threat of loss. If you do not play the “game” as others expect, you risk begin seen by others as someone who’s inexplicably changed for the worse, in ways they tell you they can’t fathom.

But you feel threatened by what would happen if you don’t comply with what others want from you and be like you “used to be.”

They are like playground bullies arriving uninvited to take up residence in your mind.

How easy it is to drop the ball of keeping our eye on what it is that gives us meaning, the meaning where we ought to spend our precious psychic energy.

The real ball that has been dropped is your sense of meaning, from the threat of what would happen if you don’t comply with the habits, beliefs, and expectations of others.

It has such a force that it keeps you from even getting close to asking, “What do I really want? What would give meaning to my life?”

The meaning making myth is what sustains your blind momentum through it all, at the cost of your inner peace and your own desire.

Relationships All

So here is how you start to change course.

You ask questions like these: How meaningful are these relationships for you? What real relatedness do they create? Where are the real, true connections that happen because of them? What do you want?

Given the effort you put out, what is the return? What is the real, authentic meaning you wish they would give and how does that measure up to your relief that they will soon be over?

.How much of it is holding together a patchwork of ideas of what is important, that is really a myth, simply not true, and no longer working?

How much precious psychic energy are you burning in efforts that leave you feeling empty, more tired that you should feel, and vaguely discontent in an eerie way?

Your comeback might be that you do this for others. Is it that, or are you threatened that these “others” will be disappointed in you that you have not played your role to assure their happiness?

You do not assure anyone’s happiness.

If you are in a position where you believe it is your job to make someone else happy, you are ignoring the myth of your own meaning making, that puts you in a DownSpiral and opens the road to depression.

© Dr. William K. Larkin 

Copyright © 2015 The Applied Neuroscience Institute