MIT The Entrepreneur "UpSpiral" ~ February 20, 2013

Losada Butterfly

No Where But Up

Positive psychology is quite big right now in my circle of friends. Positive psychology is the scientific (yay science) study of the good things in life that makes life worth living, making the emphasis on what’s right in your life rather than what’s wrong. Crazy, right?

During a recent MIT talk, Dr. William Larkin focused on positive psychology and how one can have an Upward Spiral in relation to entrepreneurship.

This, of course, is based on objective quantified data. Apparently, we have emotional set points. This determines whether we experience an upward or downward spiral. Dr. Larkin explained how the brain has evolved over time and how this affects how we experience life.

The amygdala produces the fight or flight response necessary of earlier humans who had to do either; this produces fear and anxiety, and a downward spiral. The insular cortex provides balance. The anterior cingulate is responsible for happy thoughts and positive influences, which produces an upward spiral. And the frontal lobe is responsible for the choice; which area of the brain to grow, the amygdala or the anterior cingulate.

Nice lesson.

Dr. Larkin noted that beliefs have an influence on which area of the brain grows. If you believe in a God of wrath, you grow a large amygdala, whereas if you believe in a God of love, you grow a large anterior cingulate. Compassionate meditation can also grow the anterior cingulate, which leads to an upward spiral.

The benefits of an upward spiral include better health, faster learning, increased creativity, better connection with others, and thriving at a cellular level – you will even produce positive cells.

Dr. Larkin went on to state that there really isn’t that much negativity in one’s life – we have just learned to dwell on the negative. People are 9:2 times more likely to dwell in the negative. Bummer.

Here are some of Dr. Larkin’s tips for living in an upward spiral:

Five ways to measure where you are on your spiral on a scale of 1-100:

1.  Subjective Well Being – how do you think   
2.  Emotional Well Being – how do you feel
3.  Vibe Core – what vibration are you sending; what do you think you want, do you believe you are gonna get it, and are you open to it?
4.  Play to Strengths – know your top 5 value strengths and your top 5 action strengths, and play them up!
5.  Decision Nucleus – your ability to make decisions and seek information

Ways to Maintain an Upward Spiral

1.  Recognize that there is an Upward Spiral
2.  Build positive Emotions
3.  Connect with People! 

Ways to build positive emotions… Emotions are quick, can last a spell, and can be intense. Think of how mad you get in traffic. How quick. How long it lasts. The intensity. Now apply that to a happy emotion… Can you? Train yourself.

Build Positive Muscles

    Concentrate on: gratitude, peace, joy, hope, love.
1.  How quick? Start small… little pulses. “Love… love… love…” at small intervals. Like at the gym.
2.  How long? How long can you sustain the feeling. Try to meditate on it. Hold it.
3.  How intense? Now grow it.

Cultivate your understanding that you can choose to be happy and live in an Upward Spiral. You can grow your positive emotions and expand it out to others. Connect with people, be open to it, and let the flow increase.

There’s nowhere but up to go!