How Are You?

This short question may not seem like much upon first glance. It exists in every language of the world, is expressed through different letters, sounds, symbols and word formation – and yet, through whichever culture’s eyes you see it, it means the same thing – how are you?

What is often considered a simple conversation starter, is in fact a much deeper chance to enter another’s world, and see how they are doing. ‘How are you?’ shouldn’t just be thought of as a meaningless acknowledgement of someone else’s existence, for it holds behind it a number of other questions that have the power to offer support, emotional release, and perhaps even the solution to a problem.

How are you? – Are you in pain? Have you spoken to anyone today? Have you eaten yet? Are you warm? Is your family doing alright? Are you being bullied? Can I help?

If you look back prior to this moment in your life, how often do you, sincerely, get asked this question? And how often do you, sincerely, ask others?

In no way am I implying that you are responsible for constantly checking on others without taking care of yourself. However, on a large scale, many of our world’s global problems and cultural misunderstandings stem from this incredible lack of acknowledging, or taking any interest in, someone’s current physical and emotional state.

On a smaller scale, it creates emotional states where people begin to distance themselves from the world, simply because they no long feel like anyone cares how they are doing. Others come to them with a torrent of problems, complaints and sadness, and once they vent, they desert the scene of their flood, without ever asking the listener, “How are you?”

When people are left to feel deserted and uncared for, their internal demons start to surface, sit on their back, and begin weighing them down towards depression, anxiety, lack of self-worth, and in the worst case, a premature end.

You are not responsible for all the human beings of the world, and you are not expected to single-handedly change the mayhem that surrounds us. But if you can take an occasional break from your own life and dedicate just a short amount of it to listen to someone’s answer to ‘How are you?’ you may just be the pull back to reality that the person needed.

And if you feel bitter about this because no one is asking you this question either, so how unfair for you to sacrifice your time when others won’t… well, someone has to start, and your kindness will find its way back to you in the end.

How are you?

 speak out


12 thoughts on “How Are You?

  1. I like this post. So few people who pose the question have even a remote interest in knowing the answer. You recognize it when someone genuinely wants to know.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve struggled with this one quite a bit. I try to pick up on the vibe of the person and see if they look busy or open to chatting. I really like the point about trying to connect at a human level, and that “courtesy” can be a barrier that actually reinforces loneliness and pain. One approach I’ve taken is to guess at the other person’s state like: “looks like you’ve got quite a bit pressing on you right now, have you?”. Which gives them freedom to sail on by, or stop and tell me more. As for how to answer when I’m asked … the best way I’ve found was a tip I heard from Mary McKenzie. Brief, honest and without inviting advice. Something like. “I’m feeling a bit frustrated right now. I’m sure it’s all going to work out. Just want to be honest. How are you?”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh I love that tip from Mary McKeznie, I should make a note of that.
      I’m so happy to hear that so many people do understand this issue and genuinely try to help when they can! Props to you for being able to sense someone’s mood, that is so important!
      Thank you for commenting! ^_^

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Such a moving post. I have been on both sides of this and guilty as charged. I don’t speak out when I should and truly need to and I have asked this question to many as just a passing thought. I can definitely do much better on the openness of such an important question to so many people out there. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I have found that 98% of the time when someone asks me this question, they don’t really want to know “How I am.” Which is ok with me. Because 98% of the time I don’t feel like talking about it anyway. Nowadays, I just hand them my card and direct them to my blog. Whatever thoughts I wish to share usually wind up on there eventually.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. True, certainly not everyone wishes to share their private thoughts at any moment. But I do feel, both from personal and others’ experience, that the yearning for the question can at times be very strong, and then the empty feeling that follows when not asked, is crushing. Some people rely on human contact more than others, and that’s ok. This was written in the voice of those that need it. ^_^

      Liked by 1 person

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