How are You?

“How are you?” Such a simple question which we ask each other every day. It forms the usual conversation starter and is often followed by a “Good” from the other person.

But what are we really saying when we say “I am good”? The term ‘good’ could mean many things to many people. Once upon a time, ‘good’ to me meant “I am tired and in fact I am exhausted but with my coffee or energy drink this morning, I am feeling better and able to get through the day.”

Lately, to me it can mean: “I am going really well. I am feeling great in my body because I chose to eat foods that nourish and support me this morning, unlike the other morning where I realised the foods I ate made me feel rather heavy and dull before coming to work. And in addition I had a supportive rest last night, which left me feeling vital and jubilant when I awoke. Also, the self-honouring gentle exercises that I did before coming to work really supported my body for the working day, spent sitting at my desk.”

It occurs to me that there is a lot that is there to be shared when we say the word ‘good’; far more than initially appears by the use of the single word itself.

In past ages, words were used with a specific and definitive meaning that was clearly known with the use of each word. Often the way words were defined came from a way of being, an activity that was clearly known.

These days, words can mean anything. We can say one thing and the action it relates to can mean something totally different from one person to the next.

To me, the use of ‘good’ in the two above mentioned instances indicate two completely different states of being that are almost the complete opposites of each other. Are we not creating a lot of ambiguity with what we really mean when we use words in this way? Are we hiding from ourselves and from others the true state of our wellbeing?

I recently have had one of those ‘bad days’ where I was coming up against complications with a project I was working on that no matter what I tried, never seemed to be solvable. Adding to this, the complication was also delaying the time I could get the project completed in. I was feeling a lot of tension and stress in my body at the time. I was asked by many in passing, how I was and how my day was going. There was the impulse to just say ‘good’ but it constantly occurred to me “What am I really saying to another and to myself?” Am I then accepting that this ‘bad day’ is actually good?!

So what are we really saying then when we say ‘good’ instead of sharing how we truly feel with the other person?

I know for me personally, that sharing how I truly feel can actually be quite a vulnerable feeling and perhaps at that moment I felt too raw or sensitive to express what was really going on for me. Or perhaps we feel that we do not want to ‘load’ the person with all our issues or bring down the mood of the other, so to speak, with our rather burdensome issues. Or perhaps we even feel so joyful and amazing that we do not want to make others uncomfortable as they may not be feeling that same joy and bubbliness as we are.

Whatever the case, by saying ‘good’ and not truly expressing in full from our bodies what is really going on, we are basically saying, “I don’t trust you” to the other person. At that point it tends to be a conversation stopper from going any deeper and we then tend to drift into small talk to avoid feeling the awareness that may be there when we choose to go deeper.

The effect of just saying ‘good’ is felt in our being equally as it is found in the conversations we have with others. If we are just saying ‘good’, it cements in us the issue that may be running, and it dulls our joy and playfulness and we are choosing to close our heart in that moment to another. And our heart is not an off and on switch as we may think, so we are equally closing the door on ourselves too.

What I realise is that there is a deeper relationship we can have both with ourselves and with all others that can only be accessed if we are willing to be open and honest in each moment, whenever the opportunity arises.

By truly re-connecting with my heart and sharing what is truly going on for me, I have learnt that we don’t have to dump on another our issues simply because our heart would never do that. I realised that we can simply share our experience and by reconnecting with ourselves we all can learn from the experiences being shared. It deepens our understanding of each other, our honesty and our ability to trust, let others in and share all we are with them.

With inspiration from Serge Benhayon, a man who has inspired so many by his willingness to be open and real with how he lives and what is possible when love is made the founding impulse of life.

By Joshua Campbell, IT Professional, NZ

Related Reading:
The Art of Being Me
The importance of expressing truth
Not the typical man-to-man conversation




















932 thoughts on “How are You?

  1. Today I wrote a text message to someone and started with Hi how are you? I was quite busy at the time so I took a moment to check in that the message still was sincere that I really did want to know how she was,
    Sometimes we ask out of politeness not really wanting to hear back yet the person deep down always feels the intention behind the question.

    1. It is always very clear how sincere a person is when asking this question and perhaps because this question in many circumstances is so cursory, it doesn’t really invite confidence and an honest answer back, hence why we become so used to saying ‘fine thanks’ even when we are not fine!

  2. “We can say one thing and the action it relates to can mean something totally different from one person to the next.” Great comment and one to delve into so we can show each other there is no ‘normal’! This is medicine in itself.

    1. I agree and we all need to take care with our words. It’s not to say you say nothing as this is just the same as saying anything but it’s more opening up to having a conversation truly. For example if someone asks how you are be open to tell them no matter what is being said to you from inside your head. The more honest and open we are at these points the more things will be bought back to actually having a conversation.

      1. I have to share an example of this yesterday, I was picking up some curry from the local shopping centre and they often see me and we have a short chat but this time they asked me how I was and I felt to share that I was tired and hot today, the man cooking the nan breads over the cooker looked over and with the most enormous smile said “me too!” he never ususally looks up from his job! then the man from the kitchen came out to say he too was feeling extra hot today and we all talked about how steady we needed to be with ourselves, cooling from the inside out seeing as there was no chance from the outside in. It was such a fun conversation and so simple yet we all made a connection and listened to each other. We had quite a crowd joining in by the end, all letting go of their push and stress from the day 🙂 As you say – actual conversations!

      2. Great action point and confirms what we are all saying, real conversations about really what is going on. What develops from here are deeper relationships, it’s not that we want to forget about our day but more bring our day truly into focus. At times the day can be over and we haven’t even truly taken a breath and we all need to create the space to breath.

  3. Yes, it would make such a difference to our being with each other if we honestly said how we were feeling, likewise it would tremendously support us if we started to ask ‘how are you’ only when we genuinely mean to ask and care.

  4. Great article Joshua, I feel similar about the so called “good” answer which could mean anything or nothing. I would like to be more honest when asked how am I , I am sure if I was truly connected to my body and inner heart I would definitely know what to say, a new and honest way of relating that opens us up to each other.

  5. I was part of a well-being group discussion at work yesterday. One thing that came up was how we respond with the answer ‘fine’ when asked how we are and that actually that is often not the case. What came from the discussion was that we can actually support one another if we are honest and that we shouldn’t be afraid of being judged, as we all have down days.

  6. I Love asking how someone is, it can a very heartfelt sincere question that allows someone to feel they can open up, if asked in truth. And it is the same conversely, I Love to share how I am with others, relationships, connection.

  7. When we share openly and honestly how we are feeling it offers another the opportunity to be aware of how they too are feeling.

  8. As with anything, it is all in the quality. We can do something in function and be very disconnected. We can utter the words “How are you” with nothing behind them and they are empty. Or we can be present and genuine in what we do and those same words can be filled with love and care that is felt by another.

      1. So much focus goes on to what we say and what we do, yet everything is energy and the quality behind our actions and words are what is felt first and foremost.

  9. Having worked in retail for many years one of the most used questions to a customer is “Hello, how are you?” What I now find super important and also very revealing is the way in which I say the question posed and the quality in which I express the words also. The way in which I hold my body and my posture using any question and or talking to customers not only offers an open framework for not only an ease of how I approach people but also an opportunity to not only learn about what they are after but also get a feel for who the person is within too, which makes the question “How are you? a moment to truly observe and learn more about everyone and ourselves in that moment the words are expressed and nothing more which is so very cool.

  10. When there is dishonesty in a question, i.e. ‘I don’t really want to know’, we do not allow another permission to express how they truly feel.

  11. It is a great topic to have a deeper look into. Not always there is the space/ time/ occasion ( for example you have a client and the person asks you how you are- would you then tell them in detail how you are, if it is not so well?) to actually communicate in a different way, what is going on. Though I totally agree, what you are sharing here and I very often feel, that people are saying “good”, but what I actually feel is something totally different in comparison to my standards what “good” means.
    I will explore to be more transparent even with people that I think they ” need” a good as an answer because it would maybe insecure them, if I ´d tell them that I don´t feel very well, or lots is going on at this specific day.

    What I can feel is an instant invitation of intimacy to share how you are in full. And that does not mean talking about details but just giving a general sense of what is going on in ones life.

  12. The art of ‘good’ and words at play. We are seeing more and more the change in meaning of words and some words that used to mean completely different things have become one word with one meaning. If we look back over time there are many many examples of this. I wonder if we use good and keep using it will it soon replace the need for any conversation about how you are going, everything to do with that will just simply be an answer of ‘good’. We have no idea fully of what is occurring when we just used the nice face to answer what may appear to be a simple question but one things is assured, if we don’t use something truly then it is lost. This is the case with conversation and this is not a plea to the masses but more a commitment to see that I am part of the good army and it needs to change.

    1. I agree and even if it’s not “genuine” open up and let the person have it in the true sense. We are possibly all walking around waiting and looking for the same thing. We aren’t robots we know that and so bring forward your own individual way of expressing “how are you” and break us all out of our need to do’s or need to get done’s. It’s important for us to keep opening up like this otherwise we may even lose people asking ‘how you are’ and we just have an emoji for it.

      1. I do love it when someone gives me a true answer to a perfunctory “How are you?” When someone does open up, it can stop you in your tracks and offers you a moment to respond in the same way – to let them in.

      2. I love the “stop you in your tracks” because as you say this is the deeper relationship. The fact we can all get ‘running in tracks’ and life follows the same line. It’s great to step out of these and breathe and actually see someone truly in the process.

      3. Running round and round the same track of function and disconnection is all rather tedious. Happy to be stoped on that track any day.

      4. Exhausting and ‘it’ will never let you see ‘it’. Like a mouse on a wheel once you are in it you think that’s all there is until you stop and step out and realise you have been inside a wheel running around and around. Becoming more and more aware of how things are through how you move through your day is a way of ‘breaking the cycle’ or more like completing the cycle and not running around the same circle.

      5. Your comment made me laugh Ray, but the scary thing is that we are pretty much there when it comes to communicating only via emoji’s. To me, it feels like all it would take is for us to commit to expressing more fully and honestly and it would be like a chain reaction (the image of dominoes falling comes to mind) where we would knock down the barriers of openly speaking how we truly feel and the dam might burst as I feel most people are not ever truly satisfied with silly small talk about the weather and who won last night’s football game. Aren’t we much grander than that?

  13. Perhaps asking ourselves how we are each morning and answering honestly will provide a great basis for self-care in our lives.

  14. We do realise the respect and honouring when we feel someone listen and make space for us to express in full rather than in truncated socially expected ‘habit speak’. And there is the vice versa here, both in `us honouring others to express themselves more fully and in the opportunities we offer ourselves to be honest and open.

  15. It feels very different when there is a genuine “how are you?” to when it might be asked when someone is walking past without stopping. In that there is no intention of waiting for a response. This highlights that it’s not necessarily from the question that we can tell what the intention is, but the the way a person is moving that gives away the intention of the question.

    1. Yes and it’s all one and the same really, in that it’s all movement, and while one part may support you to see it more clearly they are all movements that can be read. You can sense the genuineness of someones move past you whether that be walking, talking or looking, we can feel it all, it’s whether you choose to be aware of it all or not.

  16. Indeed we cement all we hide behind the smile of I do ok. Every time we confirm that as good we cement it stronger.
    We do not need to dump our stuff on others but there is a more open way to communicate.
    if we connect with us and the other we know what is there to express.
    It just can be something like…I have a challenging time and learning a lot. So at least the other gets confirmed on what they feel on you.
    In our closed way we confuse a lot of people. The impression or feeling is not fitting the words they hear.

  17. When we truly want to find out how someone is we are embracing all of them, we give them space to feel for themselves how they actually are.

  18. I have also noticed how even if I haven’t asked someone how they are they often start telling me, even after a simple hello. Maybe they expected the ‘how are you’. People do want to share how they are feeling if there is a receptive audience.

  19. Great article Joshua, I am so used to saying “good ‘ when the question “how are you” is asked that it just pops out of my mouth, it has been easier in the past to focus on the other person thereby keeping myself hidden, the clearer i am with how I am feeling in myself, the clearer I will be able to answer the question.

  20. I used to be one of those people who would say they were good no matter what, but just lately I have been admitting when I feel great and things are going really well. It seems to take people back a bit as if they are not expecting this reply.

    1. It was a running joke as well in our family about “good”. I remember someone saying ‘how can it all be good?’ and I just then didn’t say anything. Good seemed to cover a lot and was more like a dismissal. I haven’t stopped saying good or anything like that but when I am asked I am making eye contact and considering what is being said to me without the good dismissal. I wonder where the origin of that word started?

  21. I agree – we don’t actually allow ourselves to really feel how we are, let alone accept how we feel. Doing life seems to have become distraction in itself. We are not perfect and we have off days, and life is not about presenting perfect days to file away, it is a continuation of moments being lived and other people are in it too.

  22. “How are you?” is probably the most asked question in the world with the standard answers being “good, fine or ok”, all answers that certainly don’t offer a platform to expand the conversation but are more than likely to shut it down. These days I cannot answer with one of these words as I can hear my body responding with its truth before I begin to open my mouth and that I choose not to ignore.

  23. I love what you are sharing here Joshua, the other day I asked a friend how she was and her reply was that she was ok, it was obvious from the tone of her voice she was letting me know there was more going on. Sometimes others feel too vulnerable or fearful of opening up to others, but holding another in love and tenderness when you sense they are not ok allows the space for another to express what they are truly feeling.

  24. Today we need to agree first on the meaning of words before we can understand each other and agree or disagree on the matter we are talking about nevertheless it is a good thing to seek true understanding and exploring the meaning of words often reveals much more than expected just as the example of ‘How are you?’ and the reply ‘Good’ shows us. It gets particularly interesting when we start feeling the words and their meaning in and with our bodies and then having conversations where the words been spoken communicate from body to body.

  25. The use of the word ‘good’ when asked how we feel is really no different to someone swearing. Swear words are a ‘catch all’ or generic expression that cover all manner of things that we get frustrated or angry about, hence it is a poor expression because we are actually not saying what we truly feel to say but essentially being lazy and just using a swear word. It is exactly the same type holding back our expression with typical greetings of each other…

  26. I have noticed that at times I play down how well I am doing because I can see others are struggling and I don’t want them to react or go into comparison, so I go into sympathy and reduce myself, which I am learning is toxic to the body and is actually an abuse on others.

  27. Often we can feel the lack of true connection in the asking of the question and so when we respond it is a measured response with the same lack of openess back.

  28. Joshua, I find this really supportive to read; ‘there is a deeper relationship we can have both with ourselves and with all others that can only be accessed if we are willing to be open and honest in each moment,’ I often find myself saying ‘good’ when someone asks how I am, it seems to be the standard response with many of us, I can feel in my body that I am not sharing me when this happens; that I am not being open and transparent when I am responding and that there is so much to share.

  29. How are you is a polite question and we often have to watch not giving the ‘polite answer’ by rote. I’ve caught myself doing this or worse still judging what I think the other person will want to hear (do they really want to know?) rather than simply saying how I am. It’s such a simple question but we can make the whole thing rather complicated, (and to that matter closed and protected!)

  30. ‘By truly re-connecting with my heart and sharing what is truly going on for me, I have learnt that we don’t have to dump on another our issues simply because our heart would never do that.’ I love this! And am learning what it is to truly share what is going on without dumping – dumping and then carrying on in the same way! Truly sharing allows me to see my part in what’s going – whether it’s something I’ve said or my investment or my interpretation- and making a change, or just seeing how I am not a victim and blaming the situation. Perhaps it involves asking for support or saying no to something.

  31. It is good to come back to this blog as a gentle reminder to look to see if I have slipped back into going through the motions of how I greet and receive greetings. Are they meaningful or as empty as a bucket full of holes?

  32. ‘How are you’ is such an innocuous question, perhaps it should be prefaced with ‘how honest would you like to be with this question?’

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s