How are you? How are you doing? How are you feeling?

These are common questions. Maybe you say it every day, or you have it said to you every day. And how many times do we say it to different people, and how many times does it get said to us in a single day?

This question can become tiring to engage in, both to ask and answer. Do we answer this honestly? Do we want to hear an honest answer? Do we want to really get into it deeply?

Do we just tell people what they want to hear? Do we think people don’t want to hear how we really are so we just come up with easy answers to move along in our conversation? Do we just say we’re fine so we don’t have to deal with admitting our state to others?

Do we tell people what they want to hear, or do we tell them the truth?

Conversely, about asking the question… Do we truly want to know how someone is doing? Are we just being polite? Are we just going through motions to get to something we want to talk about? Do we want to avoid hearing someone’s troubled state? Do we only want a short quick answer, or do we care to hear a long explanation?

How are you, really? Are you too shy to open up to someone? Are you untrusting of someone to be able to share your current state?

I think trust is an important aspect to how we answer this questions. If we don’t trust someone, we don’t want to expose ourselves and be vulnerable to them. We need to know the person a bit first. I think that until we know someone more, we just answer this question in a simple and quick way.

I also think we mostly just play a role and avoid the negative of our current condition/state if that’s the case. Until we really connect with someone at least. Then we may be more willing to share deeper and honest states of our being with them, knowing that they do care and are interested. Otherwise, we have a policy to avoid expressing our negative states. We want to be polite and not be a downer for others, to vent our problems or frustrations to them.

Someone’s personality type is definitely a factor in how they answer. An introvert reacts differently to questions than an extrovert. A shy person is much less willing to say what’s on their mind, or how their feeling, especially if it’s not someone they can trust and open up to.

An extrovert might have the complete opposite response. They might start pouring out their positive state, or even negative state. They might go on about how they are doing now, or previously in the day, how things changed, what happened to them to put them in a certain mood.

But even if we don’t ask the question “how are you?”, we can often see how someone is doing if they wear their “heart”/emotions on their sleeves, as the saying goes. I think these would be the extroverted types. The introvert might be more prone to hiding their positive or negative states, and give off a neutral mood most of the time.

This got me thinking abut other animals. If you have an animal companion and care for them you probably talk to them. You probably got to know them as an individual, and know their personality. You can probably tell what they state are in, even if we can’t get a spoken answer to “how are you?” from them. There are other forms of communication that aren’t verbal or written language.

Dogs might be mostly happy, but they go through moods too. Sometimes they might be worried, or anxious. If there is another animal friend that’s gone, they might be sad and eagerly await their return. That can be seen with the humans they like too. A dog might be pretty calm, but then get all happy and excited when you or your partner come home. They might even be sad, waiting for their human friend to come home.

A cat also shows their personality. A cat will come up to you and paw at you, or rub themselves against you, purring. They aren’t always that way. Sometimes they are indifferent and just want to be left alone. Sometimes they are on edge, with their tail raised high, on alert and ready for anything. You can always tell when a cat is angry or pissed off, and they will paw at you with their claws to keep you away. If they feel threatened, they can even attack you because they are in a feral carnal mode.

Complex animals have different personalities that we can see expressed. They aren’t robots. This applies to chickens, pigs, and many others. If they don’t trust you, you can tell by how they react to you. Some are more trusting than others. And yet, we kill them to eat them, when we could do otherwise by eating plants alone. We treat cats and dogs with love and the right to their lives, but not the others that we treat as property, as if we own their existence.

How do you answer people when asked how you are? Short, or long? Does it vary depending on who it is? Do you ask others how they are? If so, do you just do it for politeness, or are you expecting them to open up and share more deeply?

 

One comment

  • Rebecca

    I used to work in a grocery store where I asked people “how are you?” dozens of times a day on average. I was a cashier and would ask almost everyone who came to my register, while the people who worked in front of me and behind me would ask almost every one who came to their registers… Some people were clearly not good but would say so anyway. It was maddening! Ultimately that added up to hundreds of times a week, and perhaps even thousands of times a month hearing the same words.

    Looking back, most of us would just say “good” and leave it at that. On a rare occasion I’d get an enthusiastic “great!” or “wonderful!” as a response… but the answer was usually “good”. The other common answers were “okay” or “not too bad”. I would alternate between “okay” and “good”. Really I was lying much of the time I said “good” as I was in a deep state of internal opposition just being there in the first place with the atrocious music blaring in the background as I scanned the parts of dead animals, MSG laced Doritos, Twinkies and Ho Ho’s. I was far from good most of the time but lied away…

    So in environments and situations like, where people are trained to ask the question “How are you?” as a part of their job… the question could be used to condition people to lie to them selves and others over and over again, thousands of times a month, to keep people farther away from the truth and to keep people cut off from their true feelings. I say it can condition people to lie because it is deemed “unprofessional” to express too much emotion and in most situations it’s inappropriate to tell a stranger how you really feel anyway. If you repeat a lie over and over again, your subconscious mind is being programmed by it and the result is cognitive dissonance.

    If someone were to ask me this question now, the honest answer would be that I’ve been going through a lot of distressing experiences and have a lot of problems… but that I’m making a daily effort to gain knowledge of my self and the world around me in an effort to change for the better. This isn’t what I’d tell a cashier at the grocery store though…

    What about you, Kris?

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