I went to the dentist this week. The always friendly dental hygienist asked me how I was. I said, “Ok.” She stopped what she was doing and looked very concerned saying, “What’s the matter? You are always so positive. What’s wrong?” Later in the week I went to have my hair cut. My talented hairdresser told me that she is always excited to see me and hear the word of the day. “Word of the day?” I asked. “The word of the day,” she explained, “is how I would answer the question, ‘how are you?’”
You see a few years ago I decided to spice up the way I respond to that most common of questions. I had noticed that we ask the question without thinking, we answer it without thinking, and we don’t usually listen and truly hear to others’ responses. So I decided not to be boring with a response of “good” or “ok” nor to be negative and send out a laundry list of everything that went bad that day. Instead I have created a litany of positive responses including but not limited to: phenomenal, fantastic, sensational, swell, wonderful, incredible, amazing, outstanding, extraordinary, and exceptional. Making this conscious choice has had some amazing results.
First, it stops the rote routine of asking “how are you?” Breaking this knee-jerk question and answer sequence helps all involved get out of their trance and get into the moment. Think of all the tasks you complete on a daily basis without really noticing. Much of our lives are routine and habitual. By breaking the normal sequence, it helps us to break these routines and truly be there with each other.
Second, it forces me to live up to the word I used. I can’t throw out a word like “marvelous” with a pouty face or following it with a story about the earache I have. I need to appear marvelous. I need to act and be marvelous. It is a great way to keep me focused on the positive and loving life. This tool is especially powerful when I happen to feel a little down. It gives me that little push to feel better.
Finally, it helps keep others from falling into the negative. I don’t’ know why, but it is so easy for us to jump onto the negative bandwagon. If I say something negative, those around me have the tendency to join in and wallow in the blah. But if I say I am “stupendous” it makes it hard for others to talk about what is bringing them down. Most times my over-the-top response gives them something to strive for.
So next time someone asks you how you are, how will you respond?