The “Tilt” Of Your UpSpiral Brain

Brain DualYour brain is on an evolutionary tilt.

Thanks to your inferior frontal gyrus (IFG).

This part of your brain tilts you toward optimism. Our evolution, our hope, our going on to discover new things depend upon this tilt of the brain to invent, to create, to move ahead, and not to languish in negativity.

It is a part of your frontal lobes.

It moves you toward sustaining an upward spiral of living that is largely a matter of choice. This is an enormous issue in health and well-being.

Continuous negativity, bullying, abuse, failure, and trauma can cause us to use this tilt less and less. We learn not to use it.

This learned non-use of a part of the brain that bumps and encourages the right hemisphere to take and process new information for growth and cognitive development can be altered and slowed, causing us not to flourish and endangering our sense of well-being.

We languish and our potential does not unfold.

What is the solution?

A part of it is very simple. Learn to feel positive emotion.

Take positive emotion much more seriously. Feel it for no reason at all. After all, why shouldn’t you? It’s your choice to feel what you want to feel. If you can feel love, pretend that you do. Think love. Act like you feel love.Emotions Neon Sign

Act like you think what it would be like. Sounds fake, I know. But the truth is that love is in you and a part of you, and sometimes the only way we find it in the face of hurt and disappointment is the decision to think it and be it until we feel it.


It’s like a gym. You don’t go to the gym with big muscles at the beginning, but the potential is there and you start small. You go and you practice and you even pretend that you have big muscles or a better toned body. Visualizing where you want to be helps the process. That’s why there are so many mirrors in the gym, so you can look at them and see yourself in the process of growing muscle, or at least look in the mirror and imagine that you are. It helps.

So it is with an emotion and the restoration of the optimism bias in your brain. You rediscover hope by thinking hope, feeling hope, practicing hope, doing hopeful things.

This all sounds very simple, but it is the simple elegant things that work the best. And feeling positive emotion and strengthening your capacity to do so is within the realm of your decision making if you start small.

Soundtrack AmbientYour frontal lobes have the job of balancing the affect of the reptilian and the mid-brain. Your frontal lobes can do amazing things if you tell them what you want them to do for you. They help you chart your course.

Consider this: There is an ambient, subjective playlist of emotions and thoughts humming in the back of your mind.

Tune in to what they are and decide to make your playlist largely positive. Get your subjective playlist of feelings and thoughts to tilt, bring it to a tipping point of optimism, and see if you don’t feel better, perform better, and start to make significant positive changes in your life.


About the author

Dr. William K. Larkin
  • Dr. gloria wright

    Thank goodness that part of our brain tilts us toward optimism and our ability “to invent, to create and to move ahead.” With exercising thought management and emotional management, we can choose the positive.

    I agree with Dr. Larkin, that in the learning process of exercising positive emotions, we may have to “think” them first, then even pretend that we feel them (fake it ‘til you make it….), until eventually we begin to feel gratitude, love, joy, peace and hope. Success breeds success. The more you feel these feelings, focus on them and exercise them, the more they become a reality.

    Another first step is to check out that “radio” program that is constantly running in your mind. If it’s negative, change the station. As you give negativity less and less air time, those neuropathways begin to diminish. Keep feeding and growing the positive and starve off the negative. Over time, it will make a difference.

  • Jean Bye Oplinger

    It’s interesting to read the pull of negativity. My strengths surveys (3 of them and counting) all point to zest, enthusiasm, gratitude, love, social intelligence… YET, I all of this knowledge and emotional gym work is completely annoying my ego. It’s like a sore thumb. The more Upspiraling I do, it seems the louder my ego gets – especially when I am hungry/tire — stressed. I hear a voice saying…”Ah, give it a break — it’s real to be ornery and crabby, how else would you know joy if you don’t know anger?” Truly, it’s loud and feisty. I keep pulsing in the gym and now I have posted my Strengths lists. I will work to call on my strengths with me, on me, for me and continue to accept and include it all. I love this work!

  • Macarena Ybarra

    Thinking, feeling and what about using your body, your physical ? When I am in the downspiral and kidnapped by an emotional process, my body is the one who really helps me. I start doing stupid things or just jumpping, moving, etc. This really helps me breaking with the power of my EGO and brings me to the present moment. Moving is a great tool for me to become present and get aligned with my identity.

  • Mary Garvey Horst

    I am aware that I am increasingly “waking up” to the potency of neuropositivity. As I read this blog, I am noticing that I have such a deeper understanding of the material thanks to Dr. Elkhonon Goldberg’s explanation of novelty and routinization in the two hemisphere’s of the brain that we were assigned for our re-certification coursework. These words from your blog article, truly make me sit up and take notice as I observe the languishing of others around me. “The learned non-use of a part of the brain that bumps and encourages the right hemisphere to take and process new information for growth and cognitive development can be altered and slowed, causing us not to flourish and endangers our sense of well-being. We languish and our potential does not unfold.” Neuropositivity being is not merely about putting on a happy face, it is so much more!

  • Kathleen Burkhalter

    The best news about “learned non-use” is that it can be reversed. Feeling positive emotions mends the damage. This information while physical, sounds mystical. I think it is both. A healthy positively inclined brain – a physical brain – then acts like a magnet pulling good things, experiences, thoughts toward the person. Stay in a positive state and good things start showing up. Be clear about goals and answers come. It’s a wonderful way to live.

  • Macarena Ybarra

    I want to share this wonderful conference about gratitude. I liked very much the simplicity and how it is explained. I work also with 3 steps tool: I call it “the three A” , A (accept what you are feeling and thinking), A (Analyse what is going on) and A (act or not….) and it works in all languages I work “Acepta, Analiza y Actua”, – “ACCUEILLIR”, “ANALYSER” and “ALLER VERS L’AVANT”. This monk is using the same thing very simply way of doing things “Stop, look and go !” . Enyoy it !

  • Marilyn Pyle

    I love reinforcing everyday the choice of emotions. There is a simple elegance every morning to waking and using the tools in my toolbox to set the intentions of the day instead of just letting the brain follow its old pathways. I have come to calling this my “lazy brain”. My “lazy brain” does not go to the emotional gym to “work out.” It languishes on the old emotional couch, thinking in the old same ways and wondering why I don’t feel any different. Clearly, opening up the tool kit, gauging where I am on the Upspiral, pairing my strengths, pulsing Gratitude, Love, Peace and Joy and breathing them into my morning meditations sets the intention of my day. Truly, though this is mindfulness at work. And in those moments when my brain wants to fall back on “lazy” ways of thinking or associations, I look at what feeling is it pointing me to and what do I want to do with it.
    Long ago I learned the Positive Spin. that taught thought came in through the Spirit, then into the emotional body,(Feel it) then the physical body (acknowledge it) then to the mental body(assimilate it) and then let it go back out through Spirit. I am grateful for that process, but I am finding more happiness in choosing the emotion to take me where I want to go.

  • Joanne E Harrington

    The Losada “butterfly” research findings as well as the work by Dr. Barbara Frederickson in her book Love 2.0 and her Broaden and Build theory underscore the points made by Dr. Larkin. Although humans are capable of many unpleasant thoughts, feelings and actions, our survival as a species is due to our capacity to expand our knowledge, collaborate with others for survival and to pass on the lessons learned. At a perspective a bit more down to earth, our relationships, our workplaces, our individual health all thrive when we consciously choose to BE more positive in all our interactions. Our energy, our vibrations of being upbeat open up others in our wake to do so as well. One of my heroes is Winston Churchill. His certitude, his optimism epitomises the value of BEING positive while also being incredibly practical and hardworking.

  • MissTowner

    It’s so reassuring that our brains were made to be happy, that it wants to be in that happy lean. Even if a person is predisposed to sadness or anger, they can strengthen the positive emotions by making themselves feel it via the emotional gym. The deeper a person is in their bad mood the more they should focus and pulse the opposite emotion, so that they can have their exodus to a happier way of thinking and feeling!

  • Yogess1111

    After only a few short weeks, I can already feel my brain tilting toward being more positive. I have laughed more this past week and been more in the flow and overall happier!

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