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The ‘how are you?’ – conundrum.
“How are you today? (Wait… did I just say that? Now’s a bad time to chat. Neither of us are interested in having a conversation) See you later.”
Does this narrative sound familiar?
What I meant to say was, “hello”
Today the question “how are you?” is a meaningless greeting that reflects the sad state of our immature communication skills.
What happened to saying “hello?” Asking “how are you?” should imply you will look a co-worker, friend or acquaintance in the eyes and listen to them. If you don’t care how they’re doing, or don’t have the time to listen, don’t say “how are you?” say hello.
If you don’t care how the person you’re greeting is doing, you should. For one, as humans, our well-being is collective. Two, learning to care for others is a fundamental human trait which seems to be absent from our day-to-day lives. Three, improving our individual relationships is core to resolving the challenges we face as a global community.
We’re more concerned with our toys, social media stats and other meaningless status symbols we’ve come to worship. There are more reasons why you should care about co-workers, friends and acquaintances but I’d need to write an essay to cover them.
Over the next week, bring awareness to how often you ask someone “how are you?” Bring attention to your thoughts and feelings at the time. Figure out if you’re interested or open to a response. When the time is right ask someone how they’re doing sincerely. Listen and be there for them, enjoy experiencing this fundamental human interaction. As you get more comfortable in these moments, your ability to be present and compassionate will blossom and you’ll empower others to communicate their emotions.
When we show each other compassion, sincerity and honesty, amazing things happen. These are essential to our mental health and well-being. Practice conscious and sincere communication in your life and we’ll enjoy the benefits together.
I’ve been waiting for the moment to share my experience with mental illness. The moment is now. I’m blessed to walk in the path of many brave people who’ve paved the road for people like me to feel safe and empowered by sharing our experience. I was lost, hopeless and terrified of life. Living with constant untreated anxiety, obsessive thinking and cycles of depression that led me to physical and emotional isolation. My coping mechanism was to self medicate with marijuana which provided momentary relief, but inevitably exacerbated my problems. I’ve been blessed with an opportunity to change. No longer being trapped by my thoughts, emotions, feelings and addiction has been a liberating experience and my life has greatly improved over the past few years.
Along my journey I’ve drawn incredible inspiration from people in similar circumstances who’ve shown me how to change. The love and support I received from these people has been the foundation of my recovery. I’m doing this because I believe we can grow to improve our lives and the lives of those around us. I believe the world can be a more loving place. I’m doing this because I want to carry the torch of spiritual and psychological freedom that was handed to me. I consider it a responsibility to live my life in a manner that makes it easier for others to love, forgive and trust. I’m here today because other people showed me these things are possible. Living with gratitude strengthens my wellness and allows me to let go of my past.
We can bring more love into the world by learning to love ourselves and others, let’s do it together.