A Septic Tank is the first stage in the positive processing of biological waste! It plays a vital role in the health of Society, helping recycle unpleasant and potentially toxic waste, thus replenishing some of the Earth's finite resources.
A Sceptic Tank is the first stage in negative processing of cognitive waste! It plays a harmful role in diminishing the mental health and productivity of Society, accelerating the growth of unresourceful states, and consuming ever greater amounts of our capacity to do good.
Penny and I had one of those typical conversations that happen close to the turning of the year. It has been a mixed year for Penny. She's lost her wonderful neighbour and one of her beloved cats. On the other hand, she's also had two, arguably three, wonderful holidays - including a trip to the Holy Land with her former Mother-in-Law.
We reflected on whether 2018 would be a 'better' year. Penny's dominant strategy is not to expect too much from life so that she is shielded from disappointment. I suggested that 'Life' was a process of calibrating our expectations so that they become more realistic. Those of you who are familiar with goal-setting lore will remember 'realistic' as one of the criteria for SMART goals. (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timed.)
The big issue for me is that 'Life' (whatever that may mean) doesn't send the same data to everyone. I've had a horrible year - in a string of horrible years - and yet my life is amazing compared and contrasted with many good folks I meet. I have to question whether the data is reliable, because it certainly isn't consistent.
The better choice has to do with how we process that data - the meaning and significance we attach to it. As I've got older, my natural tendency is to become ever more sceptical. This doesn't serve me well! At least I can recognise that. Too many people have given in to scepticism, and are diligently in the process of gathering ever more data to justify their toxic world-view.
Today, I thought about a Sceptic Tank - knowing that mine is full to overflowing, with the potential to explode at any moment. This isn't going to help anyone. Therefore, new choices need to be made.
Firstly, the current Sceptic Tank needs to be emptied and then sealed. The processing of sceptic waste is biological, just like septic waste. I need to apply new patterns of thinking (a biological exercise) to process these wasted years and extract some goodness from them.
Great ways to start are by applying empowering questions such as:
What can I learn from these setbacks?
How can these setbacks make me a better person?
Which of these setbacks can be turned into stepping stones?
What is the best possible meaning I can ascribe to and extract from the disappointments of these last few years?
Each of these questions can turn the tide of fortune and create a life more fortunate.
It's time to kick out that stinking-thinking, and think thoughts of possibility.
May your 2018 exceed all the positive expectations you still have pounding in your heart, and may it get off to a hopeful and encouraging start!
A Moodscope member.