Wasabi Peas Have a 1000 Year Shelf-Life

Desiring a quick snack after work the other day, I grabbed a bag of Wasabi Peas and popped a handful into my mouth anticipating the little blast of Wah that comes with them. As I reached for the second handful, I happened to notice the expiration date on the bag. It read, “Best by, 093006.” My mind immediately interpreted those numbers to mean, the month September in the year 3006! And I thought, really I did, “Wow, that’s a shelf life of over 1000 years!”

It only took about 3-seconds for me to recognize the impossibility of that perception. But for those three seconds, my reality reflected the belief that wasabi peas – or at least this bag of them – could last for 1000 years. By about the 5th second I had, accurately this time I think, reinterpreted the numbers to mean September 30th, 2006.

It was a simple mistake, a trick of perception, you might say. And the expiration date of wasabi peas is obviously not a big deal. But what is important is that it got me to pay attention to the ways in which my mind interprets, and often misinterprets the world around me.

I began to wonder how often my perceptions are faulty, and how often those perceptions remain unquestioned?

Here’s another example. I was recently referred to a prospective client whom I called to chat with and set up an initial coaching session. She answered the phone and I introduced myself and told her why I was calling. When she replied, I could immediately tell that something was wrong. My mind, helpful as ever, and without any corroborating evidence, immediately concluded that she did not want to work with me as a coach, and that, in fact, she was downright distraught that I had even called her.

Fortunately, I’ve learned not to trust these assumptions of my mind, and so I jumped right in and asked her if anything was wrong. She told me that a good friend had passed away two days earlier.

I could feel my mind slinking away into the corner like a cartoon character trying to avoid being noticed after doing something really stupid.

Our minds are masters of assumption. More often than not, those assumptions are wrong. And far too often, we accept them without question. It would not have made much difference in my life if I had accepted that wasabi peas have a 1000-year shelf life. But it certainly would have affected me if I had chosen not to question my mind’s assumption about that potential client. If left unquestioned, that perception would have fed directly into my sense of self-worth, ultimately contributing to an internal devaluation.

One faulty perception will not cause great harm, but when multiple, erroneous perceptions are left unquestioned, the effect on your life can be dramatic.

Can you think of times in your life when your mind has misinterpreted a situation? Perhaps someone said something that, without clarification, could have been taken in any number of ways. Perhaps your manager made a comment that caused you to think she was disappointed in your work.

What I want you to do, for the next few days, is to question as many perceptions as possible. From the obvious to the hidden, observe and reevaluate the assumptions of your mind that too often are taken for granted.

When you see a car and perceive it as such, question it. “Is that really a car?” When you catch someone giving you a “look” and find yourself wondering, “what did I do wrong?” question the way you have perceived that look.

Some of your perceptions will true – that car probably will end up being a car – others you will recognize as obviously false, and some will require additional input, perhaps from another person. The point is not whether the perceptions are true or false. The point is to begin questioning the often-unquestioned assumptions of your mind.

Your mind can be a wonderful servant, but a pretty poor master. By questioning its perceptions and assumptions you immediately begin to shift the balance of power away from your mind and back towards your essential nature.

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      3 Responses to “Wasabi Peas Have a 1000 Year Shelf-Life”

      1. Evolving Times ยป Perception Becomes Reality on May 17th, 2007 6:30 am

        […] of last year, I had a perception-busting experience thanks to a bag of wasabi peas. This entry, Wasabi Peas Have A 1000 Year Shelf-Life! takes a light-hearted, yet enlightening look at how easy it is to fall into the trap of allowing […]

      2. puttputt on May 18th, 2007 11:50 pm

        Wasabi peas do last 1000 years. King Tut had bag in his tomb.

      3. Things Worth Talking About: social networking & web 2.0 » Blog Archive » Degenerate Addicts (or how the smallest things can make a difference) on May 16th, 2008 6:17 am

        […] In lieu of painting an accurate picture, why not appeal to vanity, and paint the rosier option as the more likely scenario? After all, isn’t reality more accurately perception? […]

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