I don’t believe in God. Saying this is easier now than it was when I was a kid, because I was struggling equal parts internally with my lack of faith and externally with the reactions of people in my life when they found out. Coming out as an atheist leads people to make so many incredibly definitive snap judgments about who you are as a person, many of which are less than warm and fuzzy. It’s usually easier just to let them assume otherwise.

Doing the work that I do, people often ask me if I’m Christian, and are surprised when they find that I’m not. Atheist + Humanitarian = Confusion, which I find odd. As a non-Christian, I don’t see the disconnect at all. Not believing in God doesn’t mean you don’t believe in people. In fact, it doesn’t necessarily mean anything more than I don’t believe in God.

For me, and I suspect for many others, not believing in a god isn’t a choice. I didn’t wake up one day, raise my middle finger to the heavens above, and say, “Big ol’ pile of nope, Bro!” then start sinnin’. For me, it’s quite the opposite. I spent many a night as a kid lying in bed, tears in my eyes, feeling rejected because I wasn’t able to believe. Believing sounds great, ultimately. I can only imagine how comforting it would be to believe that there is a sense of intentionality, or just someone looking out for you, in the universe. But, for me, believing would be faking, and I’m no faker.

I also find myself explaining with some regularity that not believing in a god doesn’t mean I lack faith, or that I don’t believe in anything. Where your faith might be bound by dogma and tradition, and your belief is in a definitive higher power, I find faith in other things, and have deeply held beliefs that keep move moving through my life.

Above all, I believe in people.

I believe that people, at their core, unsocialized and unmarred by negative influences, are good. And that with the right nudge they will tumble toward positivity. I have faith in the work that I do nudging, and have seen many a person tumble toward a life where they provide light and safety for others in their life. I love people, and am bound in my service to them — to you, I suppose.

I believe that if you can do nothing else, commit yourself to helping the people you love be unashamed of who they are.

I believe that the last spoonful in a tub of ice cream is where all the crack is located and that’s why it’s impossible not to start eating another tub.

I believe that the Golden Rule and many other things we were taught and internalized as kids are ruining our lives.

I wrote about the Golden Rule a lot in my book, and on my other site, but the short version is that the Golden Rule is based on the assumption that other people want to be treated how you want to be treated, which assumes everyone wants to be treated the same way. The Platinum Rule, “Treat others how they want to be treated,” is way better. But there are a ton of other aphorisms that are ruining us, too, like “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush,” and “The grass is always greener on the other side,” and “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” and “Who you gonna call? Ghostbusters!”

I believe that the right song coming on at the right moment is the closest thing to Nirvana I’ve ever experienced.

I believe that pants are the work of The Devil.

Okay, I guess I don’t technically believe in “The Devil,” but whatever. You get it. I can have my lack of cake and eat it, too. Anyway, pants. Seriously. Beyond the simple discomfort of pants, pants are so often required for doing things that I don’t want to do, and don’t think we as a people have evolved to do. Like jury duty. We suck at jury duty. And time spent not wearing pants is generally time well spent.

I believe that nothing human-made will ever match the beauty of the naturally occurring art that surrounds us.

I believe that the internet is simultaneously the most unifying and divisive invention in human history.

And I have faith that someday (hopefully soon) we’ll find a way to amplify the unity experienced via the internet and marginalize the divisiveness.

I believe in focusing on the grey amidst the black and white.

I believe that humans can be connected to one another without ever having met, and when we allow ourselves to fall into this connectedness we are experiencing the best of what it means to be human.

I believe that intentionality is the soul of happiness, and effort the soul of contentedness.

I believe in ghosts.

Because I have real-life reasons, folks. Spooky reasons. Stories for another time. But spooky. Trust me.

I believe that you don’t have to ask for permission to smile.

And, finally, I believe that love is the answer to most of life’s great questions.

How can we end wars? What’s the point to being alive? How can I best be a good sibling, child, parent, coworker, friend, boss, civil servant, etc.? Why does the world seem to lose its color whenever I go three days without eating hummus?