The Seven Day
HOW TO CHANGE MY LIFE
IN A WEEK
This booklet created something of a sensation upon its first
appearance. A simple and direct method of psychological and
spiritual regeneration was at last available. Since then some
thousands of people have tried the method. Bodily healings, family
adjustments, the overcoming of lack, and, above all the finding of
happiness and peace of mind, have resulted in a large number of
If I wish to demonstrate, Emmet Fox wants me to be certain to read
the instruction carefully and to carry them out precisely.
The Seven Day Mental Diet
Copyright 1935, 1963
The subject of diet is one of the foremost topics of the present day in public
interest. Newspapers and magazines teem with articles on the subject. The
counters of the bookshops are filled with volumes unfolding the mysteries of
proteins, starches, vitamins, and so forth. Just now the whole world is foodconscious.
Experts on the subject are saying that physically we become the thing
that we eat – that our whole body is really composed of the food that we have eaten
in the past. What we eat today, they say will be in our bloodstream after the lapse
of so many hours, and it is our blood-stream that builds all the tissue composing
our body – and there we are.
Of course, no sensible person has any quarrel with all this. It is perfectly true, as
far as it goes, and the only surprising thing is that it has taken the world so long to
find it out; but in this pamphlet Emmet Fox is going to deal with the subject of
dieting at a level that is infinitely more profound and far-reaching in its effects. He
refers of course to mental dieting.
The most important of all factors in my life is the mental diet on which I live. It
is the food which I furnish to my mind that determines the whole character of my
life. It is the thoughts I allow myself to think, the subjects that I allow myself to
dwell upon, which make me and my surroundings what they are. As thy days, so
shall thy strength be. Everything in my life today – the state of my body, whether
healthy or sick, the state of my fortune, whether prosperous or impoverished, the
state of my home, whether happy or the reverse, the present condition of every
phase of my life in fact – is entirely conditioned by the thoughts and feelings which
I have entertained in the past, by the habitual tone of my past thinking.
And the condition of my life tomorrow, and the next week, and next year, will be
entirely conditioned by the thoughts and feelings which I choose to entertain from
In other words, I choose my life, that is to say, I choose all the conditions of my
life, when I choose the thoughts upon which I allow my mind to dwell. Thought is
the real causative force in life, and there is no other. I cannot have one kind of
mind and another kind of environment. This means that I cannot change my
environment while leaving my mind unchanged, nor — and this is the supreme key
to life and the reason for this pamphlet – can I change my mind without my
environment changing too.
This then is the real key to life: If I change my mind my conditions must change
too – my body must change, my daily work or other activities must change; my
home must change; the color-tone of my whole life
must change – for whether I can be habitually happy and cheerful, or low-spirited
and fearful, depends entirely on the quality of the mental food upon which I diet
Emmet Fox wants me to be very clear about this. if I change my mind my
conditions must change too. We are transformed by the renewing of our minds.
So now I will see that my mental diet is really the most important thing in my
This may be called the Great Cosmic Law, and its truth is seen to be perfectly
obvious when once it is clearly stated in this way. In fact Emmet Fox does not
know of any thoughtful person who denies its essential truth. The practical
difficulty in applying it, however, arises from the fact that our thoughts are so close
to us that it is difficult, without a little practice, to stand back as it were and look at
Yet that is just what I must learn to do.
I must train myself to choose the subject of my thinking at any given time, and also
to choose the emotional tone, or what we call the mood that colors it. Yes, I can
choose my moods. Indeed, if I could not I would have no real control over my life
at all. Moods habitually entertained produce the characteristic disposition of the
person concerned, and it is his disposition that finally makes or mars a person’s
I cannot be healthy; I cannot be happy; I cannot be prosperous; if I have a bad
disposition. If I am sulky, or surly, or cynical, or depressed, or superior, or
frightened half out of my wits, my life cannot possibly be worth living. Unless I
am determined to cultivate a good disposition, I may as well give up all hope of
getting anything worthwhile out of life and it is kinder to tell me very plainly that
this is the case.
If I am not determined to start in now and carefully select all day the kind of
thoughts that I am going to think, I may as well give up all hop of shaping my life
into the kind of thing that I want it to be, because this is the only way.
In short, if I want to make my life happy and worthwhile, which is what God
wishes me to make it, I must begin immediately to train myself in the habit of
thought selection and thought control. This will be exceedingly difficult for the
first few days, but if I persevere I will find that it becomes rapidly easier, and it is
actually the most interesting experiment that I could possibly make. In fact, this
thought control is the most thrillingly interesting hobby that anyone could take up.
I will be amazed at the interesting things that I learn about myself, and I will get
results from the beginning.
Now many people knowing this truth, make sporadic efforts from time to time
to control their thoughts, but the thought stream being so close, as Emmet Fox has
pointed out, and the impacts from the outside so constant and varied, they do not
make very much progress. That is not the way to work. My only chance is
definitely to form a new habit of thought which will carry me through when I am
preoccupied or off my guard as well as when I am consciously attending to
business. This new thought habit must be definitely acquired, and the foundation
of it can be laid within a few days, and the way to do it is this:
I make up my mind to devote one week solely to the task of building a new
habit of thought, and during that week let everything in life be unimportant as
compared with that. If I will do so, then that week will be the most significant
week in my whole life. It will literally be the turning point for me. If I will do so,
it is safe to say that my whole life will change for the better. In fact, nothing can
possibly remain the same.
This does not simply mean that I will be able to face my present difficulties in a
better spirit; it means the difficulties will go. This is the scientific way to Alter My
Life, and being in accordance with the Great Law it cannot fail. Emmet Fox asks
if I realize that by working in this way I do not have to change conditions? What
happens is that I apply the Law, and then the conditions change spontaneously. I
cannot change conditions directly – I have often tried to do so and failed – but I go
on the SEVEN DAY MENTAL DIET and conditions must change for me.
This then is my prescription. For seven days I must not allow myself to dwell
for a single moment on any kind of negative thought. I must watch myself for a
whole week as a cat watches a mouse, and I must not under any pretense allow my
mind to dwell on any thought that is not positive, constructive, optimistic, kind.
This discipline will be so strenuous that I
could not maintain it consciously for much more than a week, but Emmet Fox does
not ask me to do so. A week will be enough, because by that time the habit of
positive thinking will begin to be established. Some extraordinary changes for the
better will have come into my life, encouraging me enormously, and then the
future will be so attractive and so much easier than the old way that I will find my
mentality aligning itself almost automatically.
But the seven days are going to be strenuous. Emmet Fox would not have me
enter upon this without counting the cost. Mere physical fasting would be child’s
play in comparison, even if I have a very good appetite. The most exhausting form
of army gymnastics, combined with thirty mile route-marches, would be mild in
comparison with this undertaking. But it is only for one week in my life, and it
will definitely alter everything for the better. For the rest of my life here,
for all eternity in fact, things will be utterly different and inconceivably better than
if I had not carried through this undertaking.
I do not start it lightly. I think about it for a day or two before I begin. Then I
start in, and the grace of God go with me. I may start it any day in the week, and at
any time in the day, first thing in the morning, or after breakfast, or after lunch, it
does not mater, but once I do start I must go right through for the seven days. That
is essential. The whole idea is to have seven days of unbroken mental discipline in
order to get the mind definitely bent in a new direction once and for all.
If I make a false start, or even if I go on well for two or three days and then for
any reason “fall off” the diet, the thing to do is to drop the scheme altogether for
several days and then to start again afresh. There must be no jumping on and off,
as it were. I remember that Rip Van Winkle
in the play would take a solemn vow of teetotalism, and then promptly accept a
drink from the first neighbor who offered him on, saying calmly: “I won’t count
this one.” Well, on the SEVEN DAY MENTAL DIET this sort of thing simply
will not do. I must positively count every lapse, and whether I do or not, Nature
will. Where there is a lapse I must go off the diet altogether and then start again.
Now, in order, if possible, to forestall difficulties, Emmet Fox will consider
them in a little detail.
First of all, what do he means by negative thinking? Well, a negative thought is
any thought of failure, disappointment, or trouble; any thought of criticism, or
spite, or jealousy, or condemnation of others, or self-condemnation; any thought of
sickness or accident; or, in short, any kind of limitation or pessimistic thinking.
Any thought that is not positive and constructive in character, whether it concerns
me, myself, or anyone else, is a negative thought.
I do not bother too much about the question of classification, however; in practice I
will never have any trouble knowing whether a given thought is positive or
negative. Even if my brain tries to deceive me, my heart will whisper the truth.
Second, I must be quite clear that what this scheme calls for, is that I shall not
entertain, or dwell upon negative things. I note this carefully. It is not the
thoughts that come to me that matter, but only such of them as I choose to entertain
and dwell upon. It does not matter what thoughts may come to me provided I do
not entertain them that matters. Of course, many negative thoughts will come to
me all day long. Some of them will just drift into my mind of their own accord
seemingly, and these come to me out of race mind. Other negative thoughts will
be given to me by other people,
either in conversation or by their conduct, or I will hear disagreeable news perhaps
by letter or telephone, or I will see crimes and disasters announced in the
newspaper headings. These things, however, do not matter as long as I do not
entertain them. In fact, it is these very things that provide the discipline that is
going to transform me during this epoch-making week. The thing to do is, when
the negative thought presents itself I turn it out. I turn away from the newspaper; I
turn out the thought of the unkind letter, or stupid remark, or what not. When the
negative thought floats into my mind, immediately I turn it out and think
something else. Best of all, I think of God as explained in the Golden Key. A
perfect analogy is furnished by the case of a man who is sitting by an open fire
when a red hot cinder flies out and falls on his sleeve. If he knocks that cinder
off a once, without a moment’s delay to think about it, no harm is done. But if he
allows it to rest on him for a single moment, under any pretense, the mischief is
done, and it will be a troublesome task to repair the sleeve. So it is with a negative
Now what of those negative thoughts and conditions which it is impossible to
avoid at the point where I am today: What of the ordinary troubles that I will have
to meet in the office or at home: The answer is, that such things will not affect my
diet provided that I do not accept them, by fearing them, by believing them, by
being indignant or sad about them, or by giving them any power at all. Any
negative condition that duty compels you to handle will not affect my diet. I go to
the office, or meet the cares at home, without allowing them to affect me. (None of
these things move me.) and all will be well. Suppose that I am lunching with a
friend who talks negatively I do not try to shut them up
or otherwise snub them. I let them talk, but I do not accept what they say, and my
diet will not be affect. If I am greeted with a lot of negative conversation I do not
preach a sermon, but simply I do not accept it. It is my mental consent, I
remember, that constitutes my diet. If I witness an accident or an act of injustice,
instead of reacting with pity or indignation, I refuse to accept the appearance at its
face value; I do anything that I can to right matters, I give it right thought, and let it
go at that, and I will still be on the diet.
Of course, it will be very helpful if I can take steps to avoid meeting during this
week anyone who seems particularly likely to arouse the devil in me. People who
get on my nerves, or rub me up the wrong way, or bore me, are better avoided
while I am on the diet; But if it is not possible to avoid them, then I must take a
little extra discipline – that is all.
Suppose I have a particularly trying ordeal before my next week – Well if I
have enough spiritual understanding I will know how to meet it in a spiritual way;
But for our present purpose, Emmet Fox would recommend I wait and start the
diet as soon as the ordeal is over. As he said before, I am not to take up the diet
lightly, but I think it over well first.
In closing, he wants to tell me that people often find that the starting of this diet
seems to stir up all sorts of difficulties. It seems as though everything begins to go
wrong at once. This may be disconcerting, but it is really a good sign. It means
that things are moving; and is not that the very object we have in view? If my
whole world seems to rock on its foundations, I hold on steadily, I let it rock and
when the rocking is over, the picture will have reassembled itself into something
much nearer to my heart’s desire.
The above point is vitally important and rather subtle. I see that the very
dwelling upon these difficulties is in itself a negative thought which has probably
thrown me off the diet. The remedy is not of course, to deny that my world is
rocking in appearance, but to refuse to take the appearance for the reality (Judge
not according to appearances but judge righteous judgment).
A closing word of – I do not to tell anyone else that I am on the diet, or that I
intend to go on it. I keep this tremendous project strictly to myself. I remember
that my soul should be the secret place of the Most High. When I have come
through the seven days successfully, and secured my demonstration, I allow a
reasonable time to elapse to establish the new mentality, and then I tell the story to
anyone else who I think is likely to be helped by it.
And, finally, I remember that nothing said or done by anyone else can possibly
throw me off the diet. Only my own reaction to the other person’s conduct can do