The Biggest Lie Everyone is Telling You
I set out on a very specific mission today. My curiosity got the best of me, and experimentation was in order. This may sound crazy, but here’s my experiment: I chose to greet everyone who crossed my path with the phrase, ‘Hi, how are you?’ I know! Such a risky rebellious act on so many levels (That was sarcastic by the way, in case you’re one of those people who just doesn’t understand sarcasm. I don’t get you, just as much as you don’t get sarcasm). But seriously, my initial interaction with people today deliberately consisted of ‘Hi, how are you?’
Given the extreme diversity and uniqueness of each person on this planet, as well as the obvious dissonance expressed through body language and lack of eye contact, I was astonished to hear that everyone is doing JUST FINE. If they’re not ‘fine’, they’re ‘good’. I asked about thirty people, ‘Hi, how are you?’ And thirty people responded with either ‘I’m fine’ or ‘I’m good’. Really? Is that even possible? If so, what are the actual odds? I want statistics, people! Is everyone fine and good? For some reason, I don’t buy it. Oh, and the reason is because it’s not true. It’s the biggest lie. Ever.
What if we spoke the truth? Have the words ‘fine’ and ‘good’ recently been dictionary defined as ‘horrible but pretending everything’s okay’ or ‘stressed out, tired, and miserable’, or ‘ecstatic about another day alive on earth’ ? I guess I didn’t receive the memo of the change in meaning, because if fine actually means what I think fine means and good actually means what I think good means, then we have a serious problem.
As a Buddhist-inspired yogi, devoted lifestyle coach, and random person in the world for many years, I have come to a firm conclusion: humans are suffering. Perhaps suffering is an extreme sounding word, but it’s the best word I can think of. No, we may not be walking around in hysterics while frantically pulling our hair out of our heads, but our minds are undeniably caught up in the past and the future, stress is overbearing, and people are generally unhappy with the quality of their lives. Even if we don’t consider ourselves as chronic ‘sufferers’ and things run smoothly most of the time, chances are we experience ‘bouts’ of suffering. If something doesn’t go our way, we suffer. If we don’t get what we want, we suffer. If we don’t have enough money, we suffer. If we don’t have the right lover, we suffer. If we’re alone, we suffer. Get the point? (If this does not apply to you, please let me know and I will come over and bow at your feet, but only if your pedicure is no more than one week old.) Suffering seems to be the baseline of our existence. Suffering relates to resistance of some sort. Suffering is the opposite of ‘ease’. It is, in its most basic sense; dis-ease.
Even if you think you are ‘good’, please use a different word! Good is so plain- it is annoyingly ambiguous. In fact, during my yoga teacher training we were not allowed to use the word ‘good’ as feedback for fellow teachers. Descriptive words were encouraged. In my opinion, the word ‘good’ means the same thing the word ‘ummmm’. ‘Good’ is ‘ummmm’. It’s almost not even a word. Just a sound. A lazy hum. The word ‘fine’ reminds me of the tip of a pen. A fine-tip pen. It is restricted and abrupt and not sensitive. Fine? What does that even mean? Are you a human pen? Please don’t be a lazy hum or a human pen.
Brighten yourself up. Share your truth. If you yearn to be an honest communicator, it starts at the most basic level. It starts with ‘how are you?’. There is nothing to be ashamed of, nothing to feel guilty about, and certainly nothing to apologize for. How others receive you is their business, and how you express yourself is your responsibility. Be open, sensitive, honest, and receptive. By opening yourself up to who you are and how you really feel, you automatically give others permission to express themselves as they are. It is freeing and uplifting. Take a moment to become mindful when someone asks you how you are. Take a breath. Don’t give them your life story, and don’t start complaining. No one wants that. But find a new word. And allow that word to be malleable… flexible. Feel into your body in the present moment each time someone asks you how you are, and answer differently each time. Become like a wave, a flow, not a static, hard rock. The truth is, there are as many responses for ‘how are you?’ as there are people on this planet. Let’s empower others by embracing our incredible individuality each and every moment.
HOW YOU DOIN’?! <— For Real
Please share some descriptive responses in the comments box below!