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How to Change Your Thoughts to Lift Mood and Increase Creativity

Your thoughts are extremely powerful. They can lead to emotions and actions that can change how you treat others, how you feel about yourself and your life, how you use creativity, and really, how much happiness you experience. So wouldn’t it be useful to know how to change your thoughts so that they work for you instead of against you? You have the power to change your thoughts to lift your mood, increase creativity, and ultimately, create a better life for yourself.

The power of your thoughts

One of the core beliefs of Design.org is: 

We believe in thoughts, and in the power we have over our thoughts.
We live according to what we think. Thoughts drive creativity—and it is the creative’s ultimate goal to live a happy, creative life. The good news is that you have the power to control your thoughts. You can choose what to think, always. When you choose to allow your inner dragon to shape your thoughts, those thoughts will drive the fierce creativity you are capable of. 

Everything that you say or do starts with a thought. The ways we react to and interact with the world around us are based on our thoughts. And yes, mood and creativity fall under this umbrella of things that are influenced heavily by our thoughts.

Thoughts and mood

One model I find useful when thinking about the relationship between thoughts and mood is the CTFAR model, a self-coaching model introduced by the Life Coach School. It is a way to help you understand how your thoughts drive your life. The model is:

(C)ircumstance: the thing that happens.
(T)hought: what you think about what happens.
(F)eeling: how the thought makes you feel.
(A)ction: the action you take based on the feeling.
(R)esults: what happens as a result of your action.

The important thing to note about this (at least for the purposes of this post) is that the circumstance is neutral until a thought is assigned to it. (See this post for more information about that.) No matter what happens, the event means nothing until you make it mean something—with your thoughts. Then, your thoughts trigger the feelings, actions, and results that come afterward.

That means that if you can learn to change the thought, you can change the entire trajectory of the event. Choosing to think differently about something can and will change your mood.

Thoughts and creativity

Creativity is not a fixed quality. It is not something like your height or your shoe size. You can boost, expand, and promote your creativity—and your thoughts can play a big role in that.

I recently wrote a series on unhealthy thinking patterns. This included things like overgeneralization, should statements, and all or nothing thinking. Each of these unhealthy thought patterns affects creativity negatively, in its own way.

All or nothing thinking, for example, promotes perfectionism, which is something that many creatives struggle with. “Should statements” limit the creative’s ability to think freely and explore. Overgeneralization and personalizing can destroy your confidence in yourself and your ability to create. 

Each of these things is all about your thoughts. Learning to break free from these unhealthy thought patterns and adopt thoughts that serve you and your creative efforts will be a huge asset to you throughout your creative career.

How to change your thoughts to lift mood and increase creativity

The problem with unhealthy thinking patterns is that they are, well, patterns. We tend to think the same ways, over and over again, until those thoughts basically come automatically to us. 

But thoughts don’t have to be automatic. You can change your thoughts to lift your mood and increase your creativity. Here are some specific things you can do to try it for yourself.

Recognize and understand the thought you want to change.

If you want to change your thoughts, it helps to have a starting point. What thought are you trying to get rid of? And perhaps more importantly: why are you trying to get rid of it? What feelings is it bringing up? What actions is it inspiring? How is it hurting your mood and/or your creativity?

Answering these questions will give you the motivation to change the harmful thought.

Change your environment.

Getting your brain to think in a different way is sometimes a matter of introducing it to different stimuli. If you need to change your thoughts, get up and go for a walk, turn on some music, stretch for a few minutes, turn off the lights and take a few deep breaths, or do something else to shake things up. Changing your external world will help you reorient your brain so you can create the mood and the creative mental environment you’re looking for. 

Let your mind wander.

Daydreaming is often seen as childish and distracted, but actually, daydreaming can have some serious benefits, like lowering stress, feeling more connection to others, and improving your working memory. It can also help boost your mood when you’re feeling low, and it can help inspire creative thinking.

So if you’re stuck thinking unhelpful thoughts, let your mind wander for a bit. Don’t try to be productive with it; just spend a few moments thinking about whatever you want to think about.

Create a mantra (or two).

If you are stuck thinking an unhelpful thought, it might be hard to pull yourself out of it if you don’t already have a replacement thought ready to go. A mantra or a positive affirmation is a thought you can put to use whenever and wherever you need it. 

It helps if the mantra you create is directly related to the negative thought patterns you experience most frequently. For example, if you are constantly thinking thoughts that put yourself down (e.g. “I’m no good at this,” “I’m so stupid,” etc.), create a mantra that invites confidence, like “I can figure this out” or “I am capable.”

Having these thoughts ready to go can help you in those moments when your negative thoughts are spiraling and taking over.  

Be grateful.

Gratitude is consistently correlated with greater happiness. It can improve your relationships, help you get through hard times, and allow you to feel greater contentment. It can also lift you out of a bad mood as you actively remind yourself of the good things in your life. Plus, gratitude can boost your creative thinking, as it reduces stress and fear and brings you into the present moment.

Knowing how to change your thoughts can give you a powerful tool that can lift your mood and increase your creativity. If you are deliberate about what you think, you can choose to consistently think thoughts that are helpful to you and help you go where you want to go. Change your thoughts, and you can change your life. 

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