Slow Down Your Brain…

PAST-PRESENT-FUTURESo the future can catch up with you.

The past is before you.

The future is behind you.

Let it catch up.

In historical Chinese culture, it is the past that is in front of you. You can see all of your mistakes and all of your accomplishments. If you look, and will see, there it is. That is the part you know. The task is to accept what you see and know and learn everything you can from this past that is right there in front of you.

No digging required.

Interestingly, it is the future that is behind you, trying to catch up with how fast your are running after it. Can you get this picture of chasing success, purpose, meaning, security, and the well-lived life while it is all the time trying to catch up with you? What longing wants to catch up with you?

Here is a clue of how to get there and orient yourself to what this longing is. Here is a way to stop and grab it. Do an Avalanche of Gratitude. List 400 things you’re grateful for. Then be still with yourself. What speaks? How does the future talk to you about your longings?

Future-mindedness is one of the top five strengths of the happiest of happy people. We have the solid research evidence that shows us the importance of “future-thinking.” This is not “fortune-telling” and expecting the worst, but rather a zest and excitement for the future that draws us forward to be a part of what is yet to be revealed and created.

It is the left frontal lobe that is particularly engaged in “visioning.” It is busy sorting and making sense of the data collected by the right frontal lobe. It is the spinning wheel of the yarn and stuff of life that we assimilate, distributing the fabric of initial meaning-making to the rest of the brain for a billion neuropathways to form new structures of reasoning –all future-oriented.

“Going-here, going-here, next stop” is its constant call as the booster engine of enlarging the ever-growing, ever inter-connecting network of neuropathways of the brain, building vast canopies of intricate reasoning that form the rainforest of the Mind.

It is a wonderful metaphor and true. The future wants to take us along, pull us forward, and beckon us to wish, hope and desire. We can think that we are so much in charge of the future while we believe that the past is this baggage on our back to be worked through in order to deserve to live with vision and what captivates us.


Little wonder that we have such little sense of potential, of adventure, and the yet to be explored. On the one hand we don’t believe that we can simply look at the past, accept it, learn, and go on without having to pay anymore debt than that.  On the other hand we have difficulty wanting, just simply “wanting” what we want.

Longing has become an almost dirty word.

What do you “long” for?

What is your heart’s desire?

What’s your next stop, next thought, next idea, next lusciously interesting encounter with unfolding creation?

© Dr. William K. Larkin 

About the author

Dr. William K. Larkin
  • Dr. gloria wright

    Our past is our teacher. Hopefully we can learn from our mistakes. I saw a tee shirt that I liked: “I got this.” From experience we can get it faster. Being responsible for our part is important. Blaming and shaming others is not taking responsibility for our contribution. Eleanor Roosevelt said that people can only walk on us if we let them. Our reaction is ours to manage. I’m just saying…. When I was growing up, my oldest sister, would often call me selfish. I was grown before I realized that when she said that to me, she was thinking that I “should” want, see or feel just like her. In some ways I was shamed for “wanting.” It’s taken me a long time to realize that it is important for me to “want.” It’s important for me to know what I want and take steps to make them a reality. Learning from our past can be a slow process, but an important undertaking.

  • Mary Garvey Horst

    in our UpSpiraLife group last week, we were working on Step 9 with regard to “formulating five malleable five-year goals and three action steps every four months to move toward these aspirations.” We reviewed the section dealing with creating “post-it” notes related to our wants & desires. I was inspired once again to begin the “post-it” note exercise for myself. Over the past week, I have been gathering images from magazines of my “wants” and filling a folder with lists, writings, images, and “post-its” to be sorted out later. I am in the creative flow of allowing ideas to come to me for the next 5 year cycle and what fun! Here’s a line from the chapter on Step 9 from “12 New Steps For a New Millennium” – “Healthy patterns of attachment mean an ability or capacity to want what we want and to be able to attach to it with appreciation, full of enjoyment and a sense of ownership that is proud and grateful.”

    Today, I am grateful for the longing that wells up in me and for the realization that this longing is a reflection of that “constant calling” that Dr. Larkin refers to in this post. Good to know that the booster engines of my ever-enlarging and ever-growing brain are being activated!

    • Beverly Harvey

      Love how you shared your process. Thank you.

      • Mary Garvey Horst

        Thank you, Beverly!

  • Beverly Harvey

    I have been keeping a gratitude journal for over a year and have found this to be a wonderful way to amplify positive emotions and savor what I have attracted. I have noticed that these gratitudes cause my brain to bring present new wants and longings and I’m always sure to write them down. I still keep post-it notes close at hand so that none of my new wants and longings are forgotten.

  • kathy poehnert

    BAck to the Future!!

    To me, the past has never been baggage-it may contain information that “informs” some of my “longings”, but ,more importantly, it is simply a familiar road that I know. The future is the unknown, and so may, at times be scary,depending on my neuroceptive leaning at the time….but with the new information I am learning about how the right hemisphere wants novelty and newness, I am recognizing and rejoicing in the fact that I biologically am built to be excited and enthused about that newness, and find I am acctually drawing in new adventures and opportunities!

  • Jo-Anne

    I love this post! When I first did my strengths tests and found that Futuristic was one of my Top 5 Gallup strengths, I was puzzled. I wasn’t sure it fit me. I tried it on for size, and while I felt that it was probably linked to my current circumstances, having recently moved across the country (very happily!) so was looking ahead, I was curious to find out more about this strength that I hadn’t recognized in me to this extent. Some great insight from a wise person helped me to understand the nuances of this strength, at least a little bit more. I am still exploring this more fully, relaxing into it, savouring it, and allowing, yes even inviting it, to guide me. It’s a wonderful thing! It ties so well into the blogs concept of longing, and letting the future pull us along. I am more fully present in my wants than I have ever been before. Allowing these longings to come forward, to beckon me into a future that I know is abundant and full of wonderful people, experiences, places and, yes, uncovering more longings! It’s truly awesome!

  • BAM

    There is an expression “the best way to predict the future is to create it”. We can do just that if we allow ourselves to deploy our strengths, listen to our longings and wants and use our tools to keep us in an Upsprial. My gratitude rituals are talking longer each day now as I savour the feelings that come from the state of ease I feel knowing what is ahead. I was feeling anxious a while back trying to rush the process and now I am riding the joyful wave of knowing my path and deeper joy knowing I can continue to finetune my path as I please. I am grateful in advance for all that is to come.

Copyright © 2015 The Applied Neuroscience Institute