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The Inner Dragon: Thoughts and Power Over Thoughts

Our Unleashing Your Inner Dragon series is all about discovering the inner dragon of fierce creativity that lives inside of you. Once you learn to unleash this inner dragon, you’ll be better equipped to “create happy” in your life—which is what Design.org is all about.

In this post, we’ll discuss in greater depth the next belief from our Unleash Your Inner Dragon manifesto:

We believe in the power of 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.

Your thoughts have tremendous power to guide your life. And while some people may feel like a slave to their thoughts, we believe that each of us has power over our thoughts, and can design them in a way that benefits ourselves and the world.

Let’s examine the statements in this part of our manifesto, one by one.

“We live according to what we think.”

In our last post, we talked about deliberate action, and how it brings the energy of our fierce creativity into the world. But in order to have deliberate action, you must first have thought. Our thoughts determine our actions. Even seemingly spontaneous actions come from thoughts we may not recognize or acknowledge. The brain thinks something, and the body acts it out.

When you’re trying to develop a habit, solve a problem, or create any kind of change in your life, it starts in your thoughts. Conversely, any time you hold yourself back, second guess yourself, or stunt your progress, it’s because your thoughts are working against you. Your thoughts can help you or hurt you, which is why it’s important to learn how to keep your thoughts under control.  

Too often, we overlook or underestimate our thoughts. We overlook them by allowing them to exist, unchecked, in the background. We underestimate them by not acknowledging the ways that they are directly shaping our daily lives. Either way, we miss out on big opportunities when we don’t recognize the reality and power of our thoughts. 

Your life is being shaped minute by minute, day by day. And it starts with your thoughts.

“Thoughts drive creativity—and it is the creative’s ultimate goal to live a happy, creative life.”

Because your thoughts drive everything you do, they also drive your creative efforts. Creativity is a muscle that you stretch, work, and strengthen. Using your thoughts to exercise your creativity can help you live a creative life more consistently.

Creatives want nothing more than to live happy, creative lives. They want their creativity to bring joy to themselves and to the world, while also finding joy in the creative process itself. The creative that knows how to leverage their creativity in powerful, meaningful ways is going to live a happier life. And learning to design your thoughts can help you do just that.

“The good news is that you have the power to control your thoughts. You can choose what to think, always.”

Your thoughts control your life, but who controls your thoughts? Sometimes, it might seem like your thoughts themselves are in control, appearing unbidden and manifesting themselves as absolute, unquestionable truths. But the reality is: that is just not the case. Your thoughts aren’t in control. You are. 

Let’s consider a thought you might have: “I’m bad at my job.” You might have evidence to support this thought. You might think it frequently. It might feel true to you. You’ve had so much practice thinking it that your brain thinks it automatically, and doesn’t even question it. But is this thought serving you? Is it positive, uplifting, or motivational? No. In fact, it’s the opposite. It’s not going to encourage creativity. It’s a thought that will almost certainly hold you back.

But even though this thought feels true, remember: you have control over your thoughts. What if, every time you thought this, you fought back? What if you recognized this statement for what it is—a thought—and claimed your power over it? How would things change if you chose to think something different? You might have more confidence, a different attitude at work, a different perception of yourself. Reclaiming control over harmful thoughts like these can potentially change your life.

We’ll talk more about how to do that in a bit, but right now, it’s just important to remember that this is possible. When it comes down to it, you can choose what to think. You don’t have to accept thoughts that are keeping you from “creating happy.” You are in control.

“When you choose to allow your inner dragon to shape your thoughts, those thoughts will drive the fierce creativity you are capable of.”

Taking this a step further—what if you unleashed your inner dragon and allowed that creative power and energy to shape your thoughts? Imagine how your thoughts would change if they were motivated by boldness and designed to help you accomplish the big things you want to accomplish.

Your inner dragon is already inside you, waiting to be unleashed. If you can learn to reject the fear that’s keeping it at bay, and embrace the possibility of living a fiercely creative life, you’ll start to realize that your thoughts will be more in line with the happiness you want to create. 

How to design your thoughts

Thoughts are clearly an important part of unleashing your inner dragon and putting its fierce creative energy to good use. And you have to recognize that you are in control of your thoughts and can design them to work to your advantage.

But how?

Designing your thoughts isn’t complicated or hard, but for most people, it doesn’t feel very natural and takes some practice. (In fact, cognitive behavioral therapy is a form a therapy centered around challenging negative thoughts.) Generally speaking, the process requires three main steps.

1. Recognize harmful thoughts.

We all have thoughts that don’t serve us. Some of them, like I mentioned above, are habitual and feel like objective truths.

It’s important to call these thoughts out for what they are. You have to catch yourself in the act of thinking these thoughts. Try writing down the harmful thoughts you have throughout the day, and look for repeating thoughts or underlying patterns. Understand that these thoughts aren’t truths—they’re just your thoughts. They’re the way you’re interpreting information. (For more in-depth exploration about why thoughts aren’t necessarily true, read this post.)

2. Be willing to change.

Willingness to change is necessary—absolutely essential—for creating lasting change in your life. If you aren’t willing to face those harmful thoughts and do the work to change them, they aren’t going anywhere.

If you find yourself resistant to change, try listing out the ways your harmful thoughts are holding you back from the things you want out of life. When you’re able to make the connection and see how those thoughts are explicitly keeping you from progress, you might find the motivation you’re looking for.

3. Replace the harmful thoughts with believable thoughts that serve you.

Your brain has been trained to think a certain way. You almost certainly have “go-to” thoughts that you default to under certain circumstances. It’s practically impossible to stop yourself from thinking these thoughts, or to simply convince yourself that they’re untrue. Instead, you need to replace harmful thoughts with helpful ones.

Let’s look at the example I mentioned before: the harmful thought “I’m bad at my job.” Maybe, when you find yourself thinking that thought, you can replace it with:

“I’m still learning how to do my job well.”
“I’m doing my best.”
“This job is helping me grow.”
“I’m willing to put in extra work to improve my performance.”
“This job is what I need right now.”

Note: it’s important that the helpful thoughts you think are believable; that is, your brain has to be able to acknowledge that they are true or could be true. Trying to replace “I’m bad at my job” with “I’m awesome at my job!” may not be as effective, because it will be harder to convince your brain that the exact opposite of a practiced belief could be true.

With acknowledgment of your harmful thoughts, a willingness to change, and new, believable thoughts to replace the old ones, you’re doing the work it takes to design your thoughts and shape your life. 

Your thoughts are one of the most powerful tools you have in your “create happy” toolkit. Make sure you’re using them in the right way. Be deliberate and careful about designing your thoughts in such a way that they will help you create the happiness you’re looking for.

Learn more about designing your thoughts, with Design.org

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