This short question may not seem like much upon first glance. It exists in every language of the world, is expressed through different letters, sounds, symbols and word formation – and yet, through whichever culture’s eyes you see it, it means the same thing – how are you?
What is often considered a simple conversation starter, is in fact a much deeper chance to enter another’s world, and see how they are doing. ‘How are you?’ shouldn’t just be thought of as a meaningless acknowledgement of someone else’s existence, for it holds behind it a number of other questions that have the power to offer support, emotional release, and perhaps even the solution to a problem.
How are you? – Are you in pain? Have you spoken to anyone today? Have you eaten yet? Are you warm? Is your family doing alright? Are you being bullied? Can I help?
If you look back prior to this moment in your life, how often do you, sincerely, get asked this question? And how often do you, sincerely, ask others?
In no way am I implying that you are responsible for constantly checking on others without taking care of yourself. However, on a large scale, many of our world’s global problems and cultural misunderstandings stem from this incredible lack of acknowledging, or taking any interest in, someone’s current physical and emotional state.
On a smaller scale, it creates emotional states where people begin to distance themselves from the world, simply because they no long feel like anyone cares how they are doing. Others come to them with a torrent of problems, complaints and sadness, and once they vent, they desert the scene of their flood, without ever asking the listener, “How are you?”
When people are left to feel deserted and uncared for, their internal demons start to surface, sit on their back, and begin weighing them down towards depression, anxiety, lack of self-worth, and in the worst case, a premature end.
You are not responsible for all the human beings of the world, and you are not expected to single-handedly change the mayhem that surrounds us. But if you can take an occasional break from your own life and dedicate just a short amount of it to listen to someone’s answer to ‘How are you?’ you may just be the pull back to reality that the person needed.
And if you feel bitter about this because no one is asking you this question either, so how unfair for you to sacrifice your time when others won’t… well, someone has to start, and your kindness will find its way back to you in the end.
How are you?