Tuesday morning I went to the grocery store. As the clerk rang up my groceries, she inquired, “How are you today?”
“Good,” I responded.
As soon as the word slipped from my lips I felt guilty. I wasn’t feeling good at all. My husband was home not feeling well, I was fighting off sickness myself, and from my last post you know I’ve experienced a host of other things recently.
I cleared my throat, “I lied. I’m not really feeling great today, but at least it’s a beautiful day outside.”
When we ask someone how they are, there are two tones we can use. The first is a casual greeting where all of the words run together in a cheery inquiry. The second one emphasizes the “are” part. When someone puts emphasis on the “are,” you know the question is genuine and they want a detailed response. The individual isn’t looking for a flippant answer of fine, good, or okay.
Who wants to answer honestly and in great detail to the casual greeting? I don’t want to be a wet blanket on every conversation throughout my day when things aren’t going well in my life. When you think about it, the custom is rather silly, because often we don’t really want to know the true answer. If the person’s response is negative, it can make us uncomfortable.
Allow me to propose an idea. The next time you encounter someone you would ask the typical, “How are you?”, ask them what is going well for them, instead. Science has proven that counting blessings can have a positive impact on our mental state. Let’s help people do that. No more, “How are yous,” just,”Tell me something good about your day.”
And when you do get asked the casual, “How are you?”, don’t be afraid to be at least a little bit honest, but be sure to point out something that is going well, too. By sharing our stories, we can encourage others to do the same.
Image from this site.