The Seven Day Mental Diet is a short book, roughly the length of an article, written by Emmet Fox in 1935. It presents a straightforward challenge: don’t dwell on a single negative thought for seven straight days.
The purpose of the diet is to train your brain to think positively instead of negatively. Fox puts it this way, “The Condition of your life tomorrow, and the next week, and the next year, will be entirely conditioned by the thoughts and feelings which you choose to entertain from now onwards.”
Note that Fox says “thoughts and feelings you choose.” This is an important piece of the mental diet: the power to choose your own thoughts.
I stumbled upon The Seven Day Mental Diet while listening to Tony Robins on YouTube talk about the habit of positive thinking.
The challenge of the diet intrigued me and within minutes I purchased the book. A few days later I started the diet.
What a Strange Trip
On day one of my mental diet I woke up energized and ready for the challenge, which was fantastic considering I spent the first hour fighting off negative thoughts as if I was being attacked by mosquitos in a forest.
Instead of dwelling on that flood of negativity and seeing it as a problem, I started to wonder, could I train myself to wake up to a flood of positivity? What would that entail?
After getting through that first hour the rest of the day went pretty well. Only a few times did I space out, as my thoughts were focussed on a particular task at work. I didn’t fret since my thoughts during that time were neither negative nor positive in nature.
On day two I was prepared for negative thoughts to challenge me immediately upon waking up, so I had some inspiring quotes ready to read. Most of those quotes are quite cheesy, but they worked like a charm. The negative thoughts dissipated and my mind was off to a positive start.
Each day I looked ahead at my schedule to better prepare for challenging situations. This helped, but of course I can’t see everything coming in advance. When negative thoughts caught me off guard I tried to quickly think of something funny. This also worked well.
One particular meeting had me quite frustrated at work and I just couldn’t shake the negativity. I became more and more frustrated as I tried not to think about my frustration. So finally I looked at a colleague’s pink water bottle and started listing positive words in my head that describe the color pink. As dumb as that sounds, it too worked.
This is how things went for seven straight days. The effort was constant and therefore quite exhausting. At times I questioned whether or not I failed by dwelling on a negative thought for too long. In the end I decided I didn’t care. I kept going even though the author’s directions are to stop, break, and then restart the diet later on.
To be honest, every time I wondered if I was dwelling on a negative thought, I found myself dwelling on a negative thought. After about day three I made up my mind to see the journey through regardless. My goal was to think more positively and each time I struggled there was a lesson that helped me improve. That was solid progress and also quite positive.
When the seventh day ended I felt accomplished but I also knew this was just the beginning. Like any successful diet, once you’re “finished” you don’t want to return to what brought you to the diet in the first place. So I was committed to continue the “thought control” that Emmet Fox describes as “the most thrillingly interesting hobby that anyone could take up.”
The mental diet changed my life. The subtitle of Fox’s book is “How to Change Your Life in a Week,” and for me personally it’s an accurate statement. My brain was trained within that week and I’m still reaping the benefits.
The term mindfulness has new meaning. The concept of being mindful, or present, has always alluded me to some degree. The diet taught me to constantly be on guard with my thoughts. It’s the closest I’ve been to a mindful state for an extended period.
Morning routine sets the stage. Whatever mood is set first thing when I wake up usually sticks with me throughout my day. I found that if I didn’t take control of this time and prepare my mind to be positive, life did it for me and my mood was a crapshoot.
Momentum is a powerful ally. The more I trained myself to think positively, the more natural it became. By days six and seven, I saw new habits forming which enabled me to keep going even after the diet ended.
Thinking positive is contagious. Never have I been more aware of my influence on others than during this diet. Every time I interacted with another person, at work, at home, or in public; with family, friends, or strangers; I saw my positive energy transfer to them. It was magical.
The Seven Day Mental Diet may not be for everyone, but I highly recommend at least giving it a shot. I hope it changes your life for the better as it did mine, if indeed you decide to try it.
Best of luck!