Welcome to this glorious Friday, October 25, 2019. This is a rare and precious day that will never come again! How are you today?
How many times have I responded to the question, “how are you?” with, “I’m Fine,” when in all honesty, I was anything but fine?
I feel like there are many layers to this. Speaking from my experience, I answer with, “I’m fine” out of habit; I don’t want others to think I’m suffering or not in control of my life; and, well, I just don’t want to be “that guy” who is always complaining about his problems.
In doing this mindfulness practice, I’ve discovered so many ways that I act out of habit and don’t even realize it. When somebody asks how I’m doing, the programmed response is, well, you already know, “I’m Fine!” or some other version of that.
Thinking about this from the asking side, when we approach a friend, coworker or whoever, out of habit we tend to utter as a cordial hello, “how are you doing?” I’m guessing that many of us secretly hope that that they’ll respond with, “I’m Fine.” Otherwise, we fear that we may lose half our day listening to their problems. I’m fine, though usually not honest nor accurate, is clean, quick and easy, and, sometimes appreciated.
It’s as if we answer in a way that reflects our picture album or Facebook life. All smiles, bells and whistles and cash and prizes. Sure, meow and then someone will post or share their “drama.” We offer our condolences, wish them well then, the next time we see them, we hope the sun is out and back to being fine.
The fact is, life is messy!
I’ll speak from first person here: For most of my life, I didn’t want people to see my messiness within. If I allowed others to see what I was really like, I felt like a failure as a human. I mean, aren’t we supposed to happy? If I’m not happy, I better get happy or people will worry, I’ll need to seek help and woe is me. Essentially, life sucks, but I’m still going to tell you “I’m fine!”
I no longer feel that I’m a failure as a human just because I’m experiencing the messiness of life. Nevertheless, there was a time when I did. Because of years of practice, my automated, “I’m fine” response comes from deep grooves that don’t necessarily apply anymore. I’m working on not using this habituated response.
Yesterday, I woke feeling dog tired and was unmotivated. Was I fine? Ok, yes, under it all I was mostly content. But to tell people I was fine would not be accurate.
If we hope to live with more equanimity, in a state that actually reflects reality, I feel like it’s important to respond in a way that is more accurate with what is really happening. I must assume that most people wouldn’t bother asking you how you’re doing if they didn’t care about you. Sure, it may be an automated how do you do greeting, nevertheless, they wouldn’t be acknowledging you if they didn’t appreciate or at least recognize you in some way.
I feel blessed to be surrounded by people who answer the “how you are doing?” question honestly. They tell it like it is. But they don’t dwell on it and they don’t need nor want to be fixed. They simply say, I’m feeling; grumpy, tired, angry, overworked, busy (this is another topic), happy, grateful, scared, overwhelmed, etc. etc. etc. They know the feeling is temporary and it will change.
In all honesty, “how are you doing?” may be an engrained and automated greeting on my part. I’m working on not doing this too. Nevertheless, I do care about you. I want to know how you’re doing. Really!
So, how are you doing?
I love you and there isn’t anything that you can do about it!