What are you up to?
How does your heart feel?
Are you living in the present moment?
What problem do you want to solve right now?
What is your body telling you?
Are you sensing anything right now?
What has changed lately?
There is no statement that I find the most difficult and confusing to answer than the statement “How are you?” I’m not saying that the phrase means there is something wrong with the question or more specifically, the person asking it, but it appears to me to be one of those boilerplate greetings that is pervasive in my daily interactions.
I only answer “How are you?” to about three people in my life:
- My career coach
- My therapist
- My husband
These people have an interest in knowing how I am. For the others, I’m not so sure that is what they are truly interested in.
I sound arrogant, and I love it. All I want are genuine interactions to the maximum extent possible for the situation at hand. I like being transparent with people. Disconnection hurts; when something clicks between you and me, it’s electrifying, and I love it. It doesn’t always have to be a deep sort of affection or best friends vibe, but it’s something that I do value and am attracted to.
“How are you?” destroys that a bit depending on the manner of delivery. In the moments when I tell people that I’ve stopped answering the question, I’ve gotten a few interesting responses, some of which ironically end up creating more connection. Whether or not that is actually due to my actions or something that happens on their end, I don’t know, but it’s fun to enjoy the end result. I’ve seen people who, when called out, genuinely want to know about my day (and I do too of theirs!).
Not everyone thinks like me and some people will find these questions weird, but for those of us who don’t quite feel like a pro forma question is worth it, and want some substitutes, here they are.