Tag Archives: Life and Lifestyle

Who Are You?

If I asked you to tell me about yourself, you’d probably tell me your name, your gender, your ethnicity, your job, your religious beliefs (if any), your musical taste, your marital status, your education status, your pet ownership status, your Zodiac sign, your political allegiance and if you’re an introvert or extrovert.  Which is great–those things would help me get to know you some.  However, none of those things are really who or what you are, they are merely labels.

And labels, well, they kind of suck.

image

Labels are reductive, they divide us and limit us.  They give us a reason to fight rather than unite.  They prevent individuality by making us conform to definitions and group allegiance rather than conforming to our own authenticity.  They cause us to generalize people instead of looking at each person as a special case because it’s easier that way.  They take away from what it is to be human and replace it with a facade.  They make it difficult to discuss ideas because people ascribe those ideas to the label rather than the person, which causes arguments rather than understanding–especially if the people fall under different labels. 

You are more than a label or an identity.  You are more than your beliefs and experiences.  You are more than a gender, a race, a religion, a political party or an age.  You are a human.  A soul.  Like the rest of us.

Instead of discussing political reform as a concept, we blame conservatives for only aiding the rich and blame liberals for making the government too big and expensive.  Instead of talking about gender equality or freedom of belief, we blame feminists for male-bashing, “meninists” for feminist bashing, Muslims for terrorist attacks and we blame Christians for Bible-thumping. 

We don’t agree with conspiracy theorists because they’re all obviously crazy and we never listen to scientists because they’re always changing their minds and talking down to us if we can’t keep up.  We know athletes are overpaid douchebags and we know mathletes will never lose their virginities. We know stoners are all losers and we know straight-edge people are all winners.  We know people from rough areas are bad asses and we know people from gated communities are yuppies.  We know everyone who wears flannel and tight jeans are hipsters while everyone wearing hoodies, baggy jeans and sneakers are thugs.  We know cops are corrupt, politicians are shady, women are emotional and men are aggressive.

We know so much about others based on their labels, don’t we?  So much that we don’t even need to get to know them before believing we know them.  Which only makes it easier for us to judge and gives us more opportunities to misunderstand.  Because labels are merely facets of who we are and none of them are really definitive or say anything about our personalities. We cling to them to feel a sense of identity and belonging, but that’s all it is, a sense.  Not the real thing. 

So when people ask about you, try telling them about your passions and hobbies.  Tell them about your quirky sense of humor, your love for cinnamon pancakes or the dream you are working on manifesting in the future.  Tell them how you can’t sleep at night without having the television on or how you consume fifty cups of coffee a day.  Tell them you built your own computer or that you travel somewhere new each year. 

Tell them what things in life still give you goosebumps. 

Tell them all of that instead because it reveals more of who and what you are as a person than labels do.  The labels give us status and constructed identities, but telling someone you get goosebumps when checking out new books at the library tells them more about you than the fact you are a data analyst.  Because we are always so much more than our constructed identities.  We are human, we are souls and we are complex webs of thoughts, memories, passions, dreams, attitudes, outcomes and personalities.

Each one of us is a universe.  So ask yourself, who are you?

Spread Your Seed…Of Positivity

“There are no extra pieces in the universe. Everyone is here because he or she has a place to fill, and every piece must fit itself into the big jigsaw puzzle.”

–Deepak Chopra

Whether or not you’ve thought much about it, you are a supremely unique individual with your own blend of talents and traits (hereon referred to as “style”) to share with the world.  No one else will ever have your same personality, your same outlook on life or your same path…let alone all three. Though we are all one in a sense and have a lot more in common than we like to admit, our individual styles are what make us one-of-a-kind expressions of life and soul.  Our individual styles make us unforgettable and irreplaceable.

Take a moment to think about what your natural talents and traits are.  Perhaps you are funny, athletic, intelligent, sociable, musically inclined, supportive, strong, artistic, techno-savvy, optimistic, hard-working or helpful.  Maybe you can sing real well, cook for a king or fix nearly anything.  Maybe you’re a patient and thoughtful listener or maybe you know all there is to know about accounting.  Just think about all the big and little things that make you who you are but especially any natural talents you have and your personality traits that you think make you different from others.

Now, think about how you can use those talents and traits of yours to positively impact those around you in a small way.  Each one of us has a story that weaves and intertwines with the stories of countless others, so if each of us were to use our talents and traits to benefit those we come into contact with on a daily basis then over time we will benefit everyone in the world by extension.

It’s what I call “planting your seed of positivity” and the cool thing about it is you don’t have to do much:  simply affect someone positively and watch as that person does the same to spread your seed on down the line.  It’s like a phone tree except more reliable.  We all know something as small as holding a door open, letting someone merge into your lane, helping a friend move or smiling at a stranger can make a huge difference in someone’s life.  Everyone has their own struggles and we typically don’t know what others are going through at any particular moment or during the course of a lifetime.  A simple friendly gesture could be an improvement to anyone’s day but we can take this practice a step further.  Consider another quote:

“Everyone you will ever meet knows something you don’t.”

–Bill Nye (The Science Guy)

Think of what would happen if everyone taught someone a single thing that person didn’t know–in no time at all the entire world would become that much more knowledgeable.  For instance, I love meeting people who have a unique taste in music because I’m shamefully dependent on the radio and I invariably end up with a list of interesting artists to check out.  This usually leads to me finding new music I really dig and connect with, which then leads to me sharing that music with other people I know.  Even if I never see those musical mentors again I at least have two new things to carry with me for the rest of my life:  a wider music base and a sense of these peoples’ individual styles.  The first will enrich my playlist with new things to be exposed to while the second will help me further define myself by showing me how I am different from others and how I am similar (in other words, it reveals more of my unique style to me).

Of course, I also learn a lot from other people by looking at their personalities and attitudes, listening to their backgrounds, talking about their goals and motivations, observing how they interact with the world and discussing their philosophies on things like life, love, society and their interests.  But the point here is to share what makes you unique with others so they may carry it with them and spread your seed of positivity while learning how to spread their own seeds.

Helping others find their unique styles is important because it promotes self-actualization, esteem, individuality and personal development.  Not to mention we are all geniuses in at least one thing, so helping people find their inner geniuses through genuine self-expression can lead to a more enlightened and awakened world…akin to a Renaissance. Teach a good friend your special blueberry muffin recipe (but maybe not your secret blueberry muffin recipe).  Take someone to your favorite spot and compare music playlists.  Show others your intuitive understanding of the world and inspire them to make a difference.  Help somebody learn how to do an oil change.  Or simply lift peoples’ spirits with your random jokes and warm personality.  Just try to rub off in a good way and with good intentions–those are like the sun, water and soil for your seed.  Over time you’ll see your seed grow into a sapling among thousands of other saplings.  And over some more time, all those saplings will grow into a forest where each plant is helping the plant next to it grow and develop into a strong tree.

Imagine what we could accomplish as a species and as a civilization if we all helped each other grow into strong trees rather than competed for the light and cut each other down to stumps.  Let’s leave the deforestation of each others’ characters, identities and happiness in the past where it belongs–right next to actual deforestation.

Desire and Ambition, Life and Moments

Your dearest wish will come true.

After an interesting turn of events you suddenly come into possession of a small piece of paper that will grant you one wish, and one wish only.  What do you wish for?  Money?  Time?  Teleportation?  More wishes?

Whatever you wish for the piece of paper does nothing, aside from mock you with its inanimate indifference.  As you get ready to drop it the word “dearest” begins to glow in a bold sapphire hue, and the answer becomes clear:  you may have wished for something, but it wasn’t your dearest wish.

So now the question changes.  What is your dearest wish?  The return of a lost love?   To travel the world?  For good will to triumph over greed in the hearts of all people?

If your dearest wish was different from your first wish, why do you think that was?   Often when we think of having our wishes granted we tend to go for our desires rather than the causes of those desires:  we wish for money when we want security or happiness, for example, or we wish for love and fame when we are lonely.  Sometimes we wish for something self-serving rather than altruistic, thinking karma owed us one or only thinking of ourselves.  In most cases our initial wishes are quick fixes to our problems and fast ways to feed our material or superficial desires.  But there is one main error with this type of thinking, aside from when it is egocentric:

If we give more value to our material desires than the causes of those desires then we don’t  account for our “dearest wishes.”  This leaves us hollow as we acquire more material (items, money, property, stock, people in some cases) to fill the void instead of building a core of fulfillment within us.  What we gain in material we lose in inner peace and happiness.  So to preserve our inner peace and happiness we should give more value to our “dearest wishes” than our regular “wishes,” and focus more on the causes of our desires than the desires themselves.  If you want security and happiness for example, wish for a lifestyle that will make you the most happy and secure.  You’ll account for the causes of your desire for money (security and happiness), and the money will follow on account of your wish if your lifestyle involves some type of work or investment.

You can find the causes of your desires and material desires through introspection, self-reflection, and meditation on the things you desire and why.  But when it comes to the desire to be loved — a desire within us all — all you can really wish for is time and attention from someone you met somewhere or will meet somewhere, then put yourself out there.  We all want to love and to be loved, but on our own terms.  So with high supply and high demand by nature love is a volatile thing that requires the right chemistry to stabilize.  Just a little disclaimer before moving on.

A moment:  Yi hui er

Take a moment to think about your dearest wish or the cause of your greatest desires.  How does it make you feel?  Who does it benefit?  Why is it so important to you?

Think about how having this wish come true would change things from the way they are now.   Try to imagine what all would happen from this wish coming true and the possibilities that would come with it.

Now ask yourself:  What’s stopping you from making this wish come true?  Even if you’re wishing for money or more time to enjoy life, what is holding you back from making this wish a reality?

Every obstacle has a way around it, for where there is a will there is a way.  Ambition.  Be creative and look for all the possibilities.  Aspiring travelers can backpack through countries, work on cruise lines, do wildlife photography, volunteer with the Red Cross, offer scuba diving to tourists on coasts around the world (if accredited), or even become international five-star hotel reviewers.

On the other hand, if you’re worried about not having enough time to make your wish happen or to simply enjoy the life and time you have, it’s because you’re looking at time with too wide of a lens:  Life is made up of moments, like a mosaic made up of ceramic tiles.  Each and every second that passes by is an opportunity for you to take advantage of chance and choose to change your life to the way you want it to be.  Or alternatively, to change yourself and your circumstances to better align with the future you want to have and who you want to be.

If you take each moment as it comes and use it to work toward making your dearest wish a reality, then it will become a reality.  It’s just a matter of how determined you are to succeed.

The benefit of changing your life moment by moment is it doesn’t require any big changes, just little tweaks.  Over the course of time those little changes will build up to drastically alter your life-path in the direction you want to take it, whether it is toward your dearest wish or the cause of your greatest desires.  And as you make more choices that align you with your intended destination you will find yourself getting closer and closer to your goals.  As my former communications professor says, “we become who we are one choice at a time,” and to take this quote further, our lives become what they are one choice at a time.

So remember your dearest wishes and don’t let superficial desires hog all your attention.  By giving too much attention to the latter, you will likely stray from the path you set out for yourself.  As long as you take life moment by moment, achieving your dreams and ambitions won’t require you to make dramatic changes or sacrifice too much of your time.  Just ease into the reality you wish to see, think positive, and let time run its course.  You’ll get there eventually if you stay focused, determined, and open to all of the possibilities.

Corporate Personhood meets Personal Business

If corporations are recognized as people in the eyes of the law and thus can enjoy certain constitutional rights, can people be legally identified as businesses and thus enjoy certain tax exemptions and benefits?  It’s an interesting question that fights the fire of corporate America with the fire of America’s humanity.

Think of it like this.  Our work paychecks are our revenue, and our business is a self-investment capitalist venture that generates revenue by providing services for our clients (e.g. employers and the companies we work for).  We have expenses that are similar to business expenses, such as rent, living expenses (similar to a business’s upkeep expenses), utility expenses, and travel expenses.  These expenses add up and for many people, they consume more than half of a year’s salary.  For many other people, they consume the entire year’s salary.  Still, we have to pay taxes on our full salaries despite the financial burdens our expenses place on us.  This is something most businesses are not required to do, as they can use their expenses to offset their taxable income and reduce or eliminate most of their taxes in order to protect their profits.  While people can do the same thing by claiming deductions, there are a lot of restrictions on the things we can deduct and how much we can deduct off our incomes for each item.  Because people aren’t able to take advantage of their expenses in the way businesses and corporations can (unless they are sole proprietors or their own businesses), many people don’t turn much of a profit at the end of the year as most of their wages go to paying for their living expenses.

Now, by asking if people can be identified as their own businesses I don’t necessarily mean sole proprietorship, where self-employed individuals claim themselves as their own businesses.  Though in many cases individuals would be classified as sole proprietors and would be eligible for certain advantages, such as offsetting their incomes with their expenses and being taxed less by the IRS or not taxed at all if their expenses are greater than their incomes.  Which of course is a very enticing advantage.

Rather, what I am asking is can people be legally identified as businesses whether they are employed, self-employed, or unemployed?  This way people could be able to form business partnerships with other individuals such as friends, family, and spouses — or even form partnerships with their employers — in order to receive certain tax advantages.  Additionally, they could report net losses if unemployed or making low wages in order to avoid paying income tax.  They could spend their time doing charity work and philanthropy and count themselves as nonprofit organizations, which come with their own tax breaks, advantages, and insurance premiums.  Individuals could also be identified as Limited Liability Companies (LLC) and be protected from some or all of the liability of their actions and debts, and then decide whether they want to be taxed as sole proprietors, partnerships, or corporations instead of taxed as individuals — all of which come with their own sets of advantages and disadvantages.

For instance, with  S corporations the business itself does not have to pay federal income tax, but the shareholders do after reporting the corporation’s income or loss on their individual tax returns (shareholders in the case of people being their own businesses would be individuals and their business partners, financiers, or spouse).  So before paying their taxes, S corporations subtract their expenses from their revenue and are taxed on the profits that are left afterwards.

This would be the equivalent of you making $25,000 in one year but spending $10,000 on rent (a living expense), $5,000 on food (another living expense), $2,000 on gas (yet another expense), and $4,000 on other expenses (such as car repairs, business supplies, internet and phone bills), leaving you with only $4,000 in income that year as $21,000 of your revenue was spent on expenses.  Which in turn means only $4,000 of the $25,000 you made would be taxable income.  And since your income is so low you wouldn’t have to pay as much federal income tax and might even qualify for certain tax breaks.  This benefit also applies to sole proprietors, however they have unlimited liability for their debts and can be audited by the IRS or sued by creditors for not making money any given year.  On the other hand, as a LLC an individual wouldn’t be as liable or responsible for his or her debts, which may even include credit card and student loan debt depending on the individual’s situation.  While you may not be doing any work at your place of residence and your food may not be in the form of business lunches, you do need to pay for rent and food in order to survive and to continue making money (or to keep your money-making “business” afloat, if you will).  You also need to pay credit card bills to keep your credit in good standing and keep your business a reputable one.  The same applies to school loans, which are technically business investments in yourself that you plan on seeing returns from in the future.  These are all expenses that need to be paid for you — an individual business — to continue operating smoothly and making money.  It’s only fair that these expenses offset our revenues before our income is taxed, rather than taxing us on our salaries without taking the majority of our necessary expenses into consideration, while handing us deductions with limitations attached to them that hardly do anything to benefit us.

The reason I ask is because corporations are allowed to assume personhood in order to engage in lawsuits, they are protected by the Fourteenth Amendment and guaranteed certain constitutional rights (freedom of speech and the right to petition, for example), they can enter contracts, they can own property, and they are legally responsible for themselves as people instead of employers, shareholders, and managers being responsible for a corporation and the corporation’s debts.  Because of this, corporations can act independently of their owners since they are classified as their own people, which means the owners aren’t necessarily responsible for the actions of their corporations in a legal sense.  It’s a nice little loophole that reduces the accountability of CEOs and allows corporations to donate to political campaigns because their contributions are considered “freedom of speech” that don’t necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the CEOs and owners:  the corporation made the donation using its own, God-given free will.

Due to the laws of the United States, corporations are legally treated as people unless otherwise noted by a judge.  As stated in 1 U.S.C. §1 (United States Code):

In determining the meaning of any Act of Congress, unless the context indicates otherwise– the words “person” and “whoever” include corporations, companies, associations, firms, partnerships, societies, and joint stock companies, as well as individuals.  –From Wikipedia

So if corporations are recognized as people and are protected by constitutional rights, can people be recognized as businesses and receive the tax benefits that come with it (along with being eligible for small-business stimulus packages)?  This is already possible and happens frequently in the cases of sole proprietors as I mentioned earlier, but I’m talking about people claiming themselves as businesses even if they aren’t self-employed or if they work for a company.  Work is business regardless of what kind of work it is.  Employee and employer are doing business together as time and services are being exchanged for pay.  Since we own ourselves and we are trying to make money, we are technically our own businesses already and should qualify for at least some of these 31 small business tax deductions.  But it seems as if the tax laws do not recognize us as our own businesses or give us the same benefits as businesses receive.

If we were able to use all of our expenses to offset our incomes, then we would be taxed less (or not at all) and our finances would improve since we could essentially write off rent, gas, furniture, and groceries as “office operation expenses,” “equipment, furniture, and supplies expenses,”  living expenses, and other business expenses.  The collective quality of life in America would increase and people would have more money to make purchases, take out loans, and otherwise stimulate the economy.  Instead of punishing the people who make America happen everyday, we should be doing all we can to support the people and make it possible for them to live and spend freely:  for the sake of liberty and a stable economy.  After all, the Preamble of the U.S. Constitution refers to “We the people,” not “We the corporations.”  Perhaps it is time to stop investing so much of our faith and favor in the corporations and instead invest more in humanity.

Feel free to share your thoughts on this idea in the comments section below!