I created the Negativity Fast for myself because I was angry and wanted to feel better. Part of my negativity stemmed from several traumas I'd experienced, including two brain surgeries. I lost part of my right lobe, a fact I learned only after the second surgery. At the time, I didn't recognize this as trauma. My negativity might also have been exacerbated by the anticonvulsants my doctors had prescribed to prevent grand mal seizures.
One of my prescriptions was phenobarbital, a drug also used to tranquilize elephants. It had a similar effect on me, even after I consumed 64 ounces of coffee. Over time, I tried seven other medications before deciding to wean myself off pharmaceuticals, with my neurologist's guidance.
At 26, I enrolled in college and majored in political science and English literature. I engaged in political debates with nearly every professor and a fair number of my classmates. After completing my degree, my advisor suggested I take the LSAT. I had never heard of the LSAT, and I'd never considered law school. After taking the test, I received the Dean's Academic Scholarship, essentially a full ride.
Law school is a political environment, and much of the course content invites conflict and political debates. As a law student, my life revolved around politics. One day, my mentor, Mike Distelhorst, noticed my unhappiness and suggested I focus on my family instead of political issues. My wife and I had three children while I was in law school, so there was plenty for me to attend to at home. I left my conversation with Mike without seriously considering his advice, but six months later, I knew I needed to address my negativity.
I initiated a Negativity Fast. (Bill Clinton was president, so you can do the math on how long ago that was.) I sold all my political books and magazines to Half Price Books and canceled subscriptions to conservative and liberal periodicals. I also canceled my newspaper subscriptions and, most importantly, turned off cable news and AM radio. I distanced myself from certain people, who fell into two categories. The first had lower standards than I could tolerate, and the second were simply negative.
I initially thought a 30-day fast would suffice, but at the end of that period, I extended it for another 30 days. I began to feel much better, having removed the negative content and influences. But I realized I had made one mistake: I had removed the negativity without replacing it with positivity.
My Negativity Fast evolved. When I was in my car, I listened to uplifting audio content, nourishing my mind with healthier fare. I consumed everything from Stephen Covey's works to Don Miguel Ruiz's The Four Agreements. After 90 days, I repeated the Negativity Fast.
Walking through an airport, I noticed CNN playing on the televisions. My first thought was that flying is challenging enough without the added negativity. I no longer engage in political debates and try to avoid anything that could make me negative.
To this day, I maintain my Negativity Fast. Occasionally, Cher, my wife, asks if I've seen a particular news story. I may have missed it, but I don't miss the negativity designed to incite outrage, fear, and divisiveness. Consuming less negativity has made me a less negative person, which is why I continue my fast.
The stress and anxiety many people experience daily often arises from consuming too much negative content on TV, social media, and other negative people. This toxic environment affects young and old alike, making people more anxious and stressed. But one individual’s Negativity Fast can have a ripple effect. By reducing our own negativity, we can help others do the same.
A word of caution: A Negativity Fast doesn’t mean you should feel happy and positive all the time. It's okay to be negative when the situation warrants it. Negativity has its place in human survival; you just don't want to dwell there.
Although I created the Negativity Fast for myself, I wrote the book to help others spend less time in a negative state and more time being positive. Every claim in the book is backed by science. While some claims might seem outlandish, such as the notion that gratitude can lower your blood pressure and improve your immune system, they’re true. And they are things most people can implement quickly on their own.
I've included several bonuses when you purchase this book: a workbook for your Negativity Fast, live training, and a video course. I want to ensure you have all the tools you need to succeed. However, my ultimate hope is that you'll maintain your Negativity Fast, as there's no reason to revert to negativity once you've moved past it. I hope you’ll share the book with others.