When was the last time you really asked yourself: How are you doing? Not in the same way you throw around “how are you doing?” as a glorified greeting in everyday conversations.
You’ve worn out the question that way, like all the rest of us. Over the years “how are you doing?” lost its true sense of care and curiosity, becoming as numb as the canned responses to that rhetorical question…
- I’m good.
- Fine. And, how are you?
- Doing great. Busy, but great.
Most of the time we don’t give ourselves a chance to answer the rhetorical “how are you doing?” because we never ask it. Instead, we focus on a very different question: What are you doing?
It’s understandable that “what are you doing?” is engrained in so many of us. We have been raised in a society of “do” and we are only rewarded when we “do more.” It’s a contest to see who can do the most.
I’ll admit that when someone asks me how I am doing, I typically blurt out the third bullet point response listed above on auto-pilot…
Doing great. Busy, but great.
If I ask myself “how are you doing?” and I use that canned response, for once I look at what I’m saying—what lies beneath my choice of words.
I’m obviously competing in the “who can do the most” contest. I’m a reluctant competitor but I’m still showing up to compete.
I’m not fine, good, or great. I’d rather move on and get back to answering “what are you doing?” because focusing on “what” all the time is a hell of a lot easier than facing the “how.”
This is my first weekend off in…oh, about two months. Work, a new business, and other life transitions have swept me up into a tornado of doing. I finally asked myself how I was doing, without falling back on the default response.
Funny, because there was not a simple answer. In fact, the response was not a word or a sentence. It was more of a feeling response.
Since I ditched alcohol back in June, I’ve pushed myself to improve myself. In my typical extremist fashion, I’ve overdone it along the way. I’m acknowledging my self-induced whirlwind, which I will not call busyness because it’s not. I’m working through a lot of shit and I’m growing because of it.
Personal growth is pretty brutal when you’re not using a crutch (like alcohol or whatever). Still, you limp forward—fully aware of every second of awkwardness, regret, stupidity, and pain. But, you’re still inching toward the person you want to become, making progress slowly, slowly, slowly.
John Keats once said: “Do you not see how necessary a world of pains and troubles is to school an intelligence and make it a soul?”
Wherever you are right now—no matter how wrapped up you are—take a moment for self-inquiry. Ask yourself how you’re doing and skip the canned response. Give a real answer and keep working on your soul.