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The "How are you?" game

Say you turn up to an event - whether it's a party, your kid's soccer game, or even to work in the morning and you see some people you know. Someone asks you "Hey how are you?" How do you respond? I would bet anything the vast a majority of the time it's one of these responses (after the cursory lie of "yeah ok")

Lunch date with Stacey and Emily

  1. Oof so busy! Just have so much going on at the moment.

  2. Oh man i'm tired

  3. In pain - my joints/muscles/stomach is hurting.

  4. Stressed ugh. _____ is killing me at the moment!

Am I right?? Recently I found mysel having the same conversation with half a dozen people in a row about how my eyes hurt. They responded with sympathy, and some shared their own ailments. As I reflected on these conversations under the warm relief of my nightly shower, I realised a sense of dissatisfaction. Even though pain is what I felt most saliently in the moment, it didn't really represent the true sense of how I was. Plus, it lead the conversation in a particular direction. As I continued to think about these interactions I realised a few things.

When we share a complaint in response to the "how are you" question, it makes others respond in one of a few ways:

  1. They join in the complaining, maybe even one-upping your complaint

  2. They feel pity and withdraw from us, not wanting to get caught in our cycle of negativity

  3. They feel sorry and possibly overcompensate in moving towards us, trying to solve the problem for us. Which can occasionally feel nice, but isn't always necessarily the best.

Also, when we consistently respond with our problems, we mediatate on and live mentally in that space of negative things. We self-fulfil the prophesies about ourselves, rather than give mental energy to solutions and gratefulness about the good things also present in our lives. All of which slowly and subtly shape our self-concept, or our identity.

SO what's a better way to respond?

The simple joy of jumping off the dunes!

I'll be honest it took more intentionality but my own experiment went like this:

The next time I ran into someone, I stopped and thought about it till I found something interesting or positive to share.

We recently moved Emily from her cot to a big bed - a milestone for her and our family as she's the youngest. Stacey had found a bargain loft bed on facebook marketplace, I picked it up and assembled it in the girls room and Emily has taken to it really well. Sharing this little story lead to much different conversations as we then talked about family and the specialness of little ones growing older. Win!!

I also noticed the difference when a friend started a conversation recently by complimenting my shoes - which made me feel good and lead to a conversation about finding bargains etc. She took the initiative by pointing the conversation in a positive direction from the start rather than a bland "how are you".

So there's my challenge for you reader. Are you up for playing the "how are you" game with me?? let's leave behind the conversations full of complaining and see if we can create conversations full of joy, meaningfulness and celebration of life.

Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. - Philippians 2:14-16

Family walk showing our Candian friend Newcastles finest beaches

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1 comentário

3 days ago

Interesting Nick, I’ll try that, I never know how I to answer when I don’t feel well without liying or complaining ☺️

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