Hearts at Work

A Column by James Tipton

The 7 Day Mental Diet


emmetfox“The most important of all factors in your life is the mental diet on which you live. It is the food which you furnish to your mind that determines the whole character of your life.” These words, and some others that follow, are by Emmett Fox (1886-1951), and are in his popular booklet, The 7 Day Mental Diet: How to Change Your Life in a Week. In the first half of the 20th century, Fox was one of the most influential New Thought ministers, so popular that at his peak thousands attended his weekly services at the New York Hippodrome and Carnegie Hall.

Fox believes that “Everything in your life today—the state of the body, whether healthy or sick, the state of your fortune, whether prosperous or impoverished, the state of your home, whether happy or the reverse, the present condition of every phase of your life in fact—is entirely conditioned by the thoughts and feelings which you have entertained in the past, by the habitual tone of your past thinking. And the condition of your life tomorrow, and next week, and next year, will be entirely conditioned by the thoughts and feelings which you choose to entertain from now onwards.”

For Fox, the Great Cosmic Law is this: We are transformed by the renewing of our minds. When you change the way you think, your life will—must—change. To help us shift to new life, Fox suggests we devote seven days solely to building a new habit of thought, and during that week let everything in life be unimportant as compared with that. If you will do so, then that week will be the most significant week in your whole life. It will literally be the turning point for you.” Fox does not mean that you will then be better able to cope with your present difficulties. He means that the difficulties will no longer exist, “the difficulties will go.”

And what is his diet program? “For seven days you must not allow yourself to dwell for a single moment on any kind of negative thought. You must watch yourself for a whole week as a cat watches a mouse, and you must not under any pretense allow your mind to dwell on any thought that is not positive, constructive, optimistic, kind.”

These seven days will be strenuous. Indeed, “fasting would be child’s play in comparison,” and the “most exhausting form of army gymnastics, combined with thirty mile route-marches, would be mild in comparison.” But at the end of your “7 Day Mental Diet,” then, “for the rest of your life here, for all eternity in fact, things will be utterly different and inconceivably better than if you had not carried through this undertaking.”

Negative thoughts will come to you, but it does not matter “provided that you do not entertain them. It is the entertaining or dwelling upon them that matters.” He offers this instructive metaphor for handling negative thoughts that float into your mind: Imagine you are sitting by an open fire and suddenly a red hot cinder flies out and lands on your sleeve. If you knock it off at once, without any delay, the sleeve is saved and no harm is done. But if you allow it to stay “for a single moment, under any pretense, the mischief is done, and it will be a troublesome task to repair that sleeve. Do not tell anyone else that you are on the diet, or that you intend to go on it.” Finally, “remember that nothing said or done by anyone else can possibly throw you off the diet. Only your own reaction to the other person’s conduct can do that.”


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