How Big Is Your “In Between?”



This is not a reference to your physical body.

It’s a reference to the swing and sway of your everyday moods or states of mind.

The top of our Emotional Scale is feeling very good, resilient, optimistic, grateful, and that is at a score of 100. The bottom is feeling oppressed, overwhelmed and despairing, and that is a score at 0. The mid-point is 50. The in-between, where most people are, is a range between 35 and 70.

So on a scale of 1-100, where are you?

If you are, in part of your life, in this “in-between” state, yo-yoing up and down and back and forth, or just fixed at a 60, then consider moving that mid-range to over 70 –to the “feel-good” range.

This in-between state is where many folks live, thinking that it’s just them, just their life as it is. But we guarantee that you can live at a higher point on this scale and experience feeling good more and more and more often.

We even guarantee that you can get to feeling very good 95% of the time.

It starts with feeling positive emotion. We are heading into the holiday season, which can be a good test. There are folks for whom this season raises their mood, but there are others who dread it and feel it as an imposition.

Every time you think of the holiday season, and perhaps feel dread or overwhelm, and even if you don’t, turn to the feeling of gratitude.

Think of something you’re grateful for and pulse the feeling of gratitude 25 times.

And while you’re at it, find some more cues that you can use to feel grateful, both for this holiday season and beyond.

© Dr. William K. Larkin 

About the author

Dr. William K. Larkin
  • Audrey Sloofman

    Most of my life growing up was lived on a roller coaster. My mother and my husband both had Borderline Personality Disorder. I thought these ups and downs were normal. Thankfully I got tired enough of the pain associated with these swings and saw that those who’s lives appeared peaceful (and frankly “boring”) might have something I could benefit from. I have learned to reach for peace and gratitude over the last 10 years and I love my “boring” peaceful life. The other day, I awoke feeling a bit down, which I had not for some time. I saw that I could look for reasons why and that I had a choice to build a case to feel sorry for my self and justify this physical and emotional feeling. Instead I pulsed all day and did my prayer hands exercise over and over. It took most of the day, but I am back to my high UpSpiral numbers! I LOVE knowing that I am actually building new neuropathways and helping old ones diminish. It is so much more helpful to me than thinking I am just doing something that is just a “good idea”. The scientific research really helps me believe in what I am doing. Thank you!

  • James Beeman

    This blog post’s timing is interesting for me, because just today
    there was an unexpected situation at work where I realized that I made a
    mistake that impacted a lot of other people that caused me to plummet on the
    DownSpiral and start to panic. I felt
    the tightness in my back, the shortness of breath, and my heart started to
    race. All of these events occurred,
    because I chose to experience myself as a victim of this particular situation,
    demonstrated by the fact that I wrote above, “that caused me to plummet on the DownSpiral
    and start to panic.”

    As I reflected on this situation more, I realized that my
    belief that I was the victim in this situation was completely inaccurate.

    What did I do to get out of this DownSpiral?

    I went immediately to the Emotional Gym and began pulsing
    gratitude, gratitude, gratitude. Then I pivoted to my strength of Futuristic
    and pictured this situation working out for the best. A sense of peace came
    over me and I took the time to get control over my pace of breathing again.
    From there I began to employ my strength of Learner and researched different
    ways to retrieve the accidentally deleted information.

    And the answer came in less than 60 minutes. I ended up
    calling Google, finding out how to retrieve the deleted files, and
    communicating with our network administrator. The solution completely fixed the
    problem. Case closed. I could breathe more easily again, knowing that my
    actions weren’t negatively impacting others.

    As I reflected on this situation even more, I realized that
    underneath this entire experience was a framework of fear and not of faith. I
    was afraid of having to redo thousands of hours of work, I was afraid that
    others would falsely accuse me of creating the problem, and I was afraid that
    grace would not be extended to me. All these fears were irrational and with
    this thinking, I took myself to a place of panic.

    My takeaway from this entire experience is to extend a similar amount of faith, love, joy, and
    peace to myself that I afford to countless others! Move my ‘in-between’ range up the

  • Mary Garvey Horst

    I would have to say that staying consistently in the UpSpiral, rather than fluctuating between the former ups & downs of life has been one of my greatest “take-aways” from my ANI training. I remember learning about the “roller coaster” of emotion where once one hops on to the ride with no jumping off point. Subsequently, I learned that it is advisable to learn how to refrain from not getting onto the roller coaster in the first place. That’s where State of Mind Management (or S.O.M.M.) comes into play. I was taught the skill set of the Emotional Gym and how to pivot in the direction of peace, love, gratitude, joy and hope, rather than allow myself to be overtaken by down spiral emotions that pulled me off center. I am grateful for learning how to remain in an UpSpiral over time and to refrain from taking the roller coaster with its dips, twists, and upside down contortions.

  • Dr. gloria wright

    I don’t think erratic ups and downs are good for us. “Science of Happiness” often refers to all emotions being part of being human. Staying at a high level of ups can be very artificial. Feeling sad, angry, disillusioned is not bad in and of itself – but staying there (we can it “wallowing” in the South) isn’t good for us. To me it’s about percentages. Can I experience positive emotions, thoughts and beliefs MOST of the time. Can I let myself feel the down and intentionally go back to focusing on what I am grateful for? It takes diligence and practice. Dr. Barbara Fredrickson talks about “Broaden and Build.” Simply put, it you practice positivity, you will build a reservoir to draw on and return to when you need it. Managing your positive thoughts, feelings and beliefs is different from controlling them. Matt Killingsworth has surmised that mind wandering may be a detriment to happiness. He also says that it is normal and can become intentional. He recommends that when your mind keeps wandering to a topic, to take a few minutes and focus on it, become intentional, make a plan, or whatever is appropriate, and then let it go. When we are in “Flow” one of the things that happens is that our mind doesn’t wander. When meditating, even on loving-kindness, our minds may wander. The idea is to bring our focus back to our breath or the loving kindness phrases.
    At first glance, being positive and happy may seem simple and even trite. I find it to be neither. It is quite complex. Thank goodness we can learn skills to aid in both. We can manage ourselves to be positive and feel happy most of the time – with concentration, awareness and dedication. Most of us know that it is good for us. Let’s do it!

    • Jodi Ana

      Love this: “Feeling sad, angry, disillusioned is not bad in and of itself – but staying there (we can [call] it “wallowing” in the South) isn’t good for us.”

      It’s super important to allow ourselves to feel what we feel and explore those feelings.

  • Sandra Lintz

    Holidays can trigger mood swings. I know my moods, although mostly up, sometimes take me down and out from time to time. Holidays come loaded with with expectations, comparisons and memories (both good and bad). In the midst of it there can be a jumble of sadness, fun, anticipation, joy, regret, a blur of all sorts of emotions.

    This Thanksgiving I am thankful for one of my personal strengths and it is the strength of gratitude because it helps me stay focused on the true meaning of the holiday. Maybe you are like me and you are asking how gratitude can be a strength during this time. Gratitude is one of the strengths identified in the Values in Action Inventory of Strengths (VIA). When I first learned of my VIA strengths I didn’t understand the application. I didn’t understand how my strengths of gratitude and mercy were strengths at all. However, the holidays are presenting me with a situation to see their benefits.

    How is gratitude a strength? I’m still learning but I know I love Thanksgiving! It is a great tume for expressing appreciation for people we love and the blessings we have in our lives. The distractions of the retail industry would tell us a terrific sale price is better. The marketing drum beat that pounds out “gotta shop, gotta shop…buy, buy, buy, buy, buy” has not even reached a crescendo yet but it is pervasive in advertising and in store displays. My daily emails have tripled and ads flash on almost every web page. I noticed Verizon is celebrating the day before Thanksgiving by hosting a give-away they are calling “Thanksgetting.” A despicable twisted blend! Retailers are doing all they can to make you think you’re missing out on an incredible deal if you don’t buy their products during special sales. The bombardment can contribute to overwhelming feelings of inadequacy along with a myriad of other thoughts and emotions – “I’m going to miss out on something. I can’t keep up with this sale and that one over there too.” Panic. Inundation. “I must be missing something. How can I be missing something I’ve never wanted but suddenly I want it because it’s only for a limited time…….” But the clamor can be doused with pulses of gratitude.

    Going back to gratitude is a good position of strength; a place of self awareness, a place from which to more wisely decide on how to act, what to do and how to feel. Gratitude can help focus on what is good and what I have and not be tricked into thinking there’s something else needed. The strength of mercy is to be gentle and kind with myself and others.

    The Thanksgiving holiday – a holiday to feel gratitude, express appreciation and count blessings! Do you want something else to be thankful for? How about your strengths? There are strengths you probably don’t even know you have. Try taking the VIA survey and see. Face the holidays with a new strengths blend!

  • jeris hollander

    During the holiday season, it is all too easy for us to become dragged down by the perceived expectations and overwhelm that accompany holiday activities. When we become overly entrenched in the consumerism and materialism of the season, it clouds our vision of what is truly important – gratitude for the love of our family and friends. When we begin to view altruism and giving thanks to others as a chore or imposition, the true meaning of the holidays becomes lost. This is a clear signal that we need to stop, be still, and turn to gratitude. It is amazing how significantly this positive emotion can impact our happiness set point, enabling us to consistently maintain a higher place in the upspiral.

    Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday. My appreciation for this holiday and what it represents is deep rooted in early childhood memories of togetherness, laughter, gratitude, playing checkers with my grandfather, helping my grandmother set the table, watching football with my dad, the unrivaled taste of my mom’s turkey and stuffing, and enjoying an overall feeling that, on this day, all was right with the world. As we get older, we carry this childhood image with us in our hearts and minds, hoping to recreate that feeling of joy and ease. Unfortunately, the responsibilities of everyday adult life, financial stress, aging parents, or other family issues can make us feel as though the innocence of our childhood joy has been lost. But the truth is, it is not lost at all. Perhaps it has been buried for a time, but it remains in our hearts always, we just have to understand how to access those old feelings regardless of new problems. Since beginning the practice of the emotional gym, I have noticed that my upspiral is remarkably more consistent, and that I am able to quickly access those childhood feelings of joy and gratitude that I have always associated with Thanksgiving. The more stable my upspiral becomes, the less affected I am by the potential stress of the holidays and the more present, happy, hopeful and grateful I become. Pulse gratitude and you will quickly remember how to experience the true meaning of Thanksgiving.

  • Jodi Ana

    It’s super important to allow ourselves to feel what we feel and explore those feelings. If I were feeling ‘low’ associated with the holidays, then I would explore those feelings and be on a journey of self-reflection and discovery. Our feelings (both good and bad) are teachers.

    Having said that, it’s no good to get caught up in the story around a negative emotion. I simply ask the feeling what it’s here to teach me and then allow my Inner Wisdom to speak Truth to me. This usually brings a resolve of internal conflict and I move back into my normal positive self. Otherwise, to deny this part of myself and ‘bypass’ into an UpSpiral (or positive emotions) would be like ignoring a small child who expresses a need.

    Liken it to a small child who says she is hungry. To ignore her basic need can be wounding and inappropriate. To feed her candy or junk is equally inappropriate. To feed her nutrient-dense food is for her own good and healthy. If my Inner Self is ‘talking’ by feeling dread or overwhelmed, I need to pay attention to that. Those feelings are there for a reason. Perhaps the overwhelm is here to teach me that I’m doing too much and taking on more than I should. That’s something I should listen to and learn from; not dismiss in the light of harnessing a positive emotion instead.

    That doesn’t mean I “wallow in my pity” or wallow in the story that I’m a ‘victim’ because I’m so overwhelmed. No. I use the feeling as a tool and then I take an action to move myself forward to a place of peace and harmony. That’s very different than over-riding the feeling and ‘bypassing’ straight into a positive emotion. Bypassing would be like ignoring the child’s hunger. Wallowing in the overwhelm would be like feeding the child candy. Allow my emotions to teach me something, then taking action based on those teachings (to move myself out of overwhelm, for instance), would be like giving the child a nutrient-dense meal.

Copyright © 2015 The Applied Neuroscience Institute