How are you? Such a simple question. We must ask a dozen people each day, and a dozen people ask us the same question. The typical response is, “I’m fine.” I suppose it’s polite to make such pleasantries, but why the avoidance of what’s really going on? Is it just a habit to say we’re fine, without even considering how we are really doing? The unspoken rule is that we act like everything is going well. It’s assumed that the people who ask how we are don’t really want to know how we are doing; they just want to be polite.
What’s unfortunate is that we are so accustomed to saying we are fine, that we are clueless as to how we are actually feeling. What if someone asked, “How are you?” You actually stopped for a second and thought to yourself, how am I? And then instead of the obligatory “I’m fine,” you took a risk and actually communicated how you felt? Imagine the reaction if you responded, “Oh I’m having a rough time. My cat just died.” Or “Super! I just booked a trip to Europe.” You might startle yourself and the person who asked. The people asking how you are doing may not want an honest answer. They may just be making polite conversation.
Here’s what I’d suggest: spend some time considering how you are doing. Do you truly feel it is a good day or a bad day? Are you angry, anxious, happy, or sad? Take a moment to connect with the person who is asking and give an honest response. You’ll feel much better for sharing. And the next time you ask someone how they are, make a point of looking them in the eye to let them know you are truly interested in them. You’ll be surprised at how open they will be with you, too. If you really don’t want to hear how the person is, by all means, continue on with your pleasantries – just sayin.’