Lately I have been thinking that how one answers this question might actually impact one's state of being, rather than simply reporting on it.
I work a few days a week at a public high school in Brooklyn. Many of the teachers have been there for 10, 20 plus years, and well, let's just say they slant towards the burnt out end of the spectrum. Often when I happen to cross a teacher in the hall or in the bathroom, I will say, "How are you?" Here is a sampling of some of the responses I get
"Terrible, stressed, angry and living for summer, if you must know"
Not such uplifting answers.
These days, my own answer to this question has been, "I'm soooo busy." And then I usually sigh and nod my head in a way that says, "yeah, it's tough."
Waah Waaaaa. (think debbie downer noise)
Now, it is true that I am very busy right now. Busy to the point of being overwhelmed.
And it's also true that the teachers I work with are very stressed, and some days they really are just hanging on by a thread.
But during the small "how are you's" of the day, what is most beneficial for us to focus on? The drama, struggles and obstacles? Or the greater mission that all the work is moving towards?
I realized for myself at least, that every time I say, "I am sooo busy", I am just reinforcing the idea that my life is totally overwhelming right now. When actually this is an incredible time in my life, and I am so happy that I am busy because all the busy is towards such positive, wonderful things. Or, since lately I have been trying to simplify my life and become less busy, this answer just makes me feel like a failure.
I am not suggesting that we deny what we feel, or that we not share it with others. It can be very healing to commiserate with others and share our struggles. But I think we can all agree that it is so much easier to focus on what's wrong in life rather than on what's right.
Using the "how are you?'s" of your day to reflect on some of the things that are going well seems a worthy exercise.
Think of the profound impact it could have to focus on the positive for a few moments peppered throughout the day!
That which we focus is on, is what will grow.
I'm going to give it a try this week. Join me? If this seems impossible to you, head over to the blog Zen Habits for a more in depth tutorial
Or check out this girl for inspiration
Imagine starting your morning out like that!
OK, so here it goes.
So, Nora, how are you?
"Great! I am having a great time planning my wedding and being creative with the details. Last night I painted the walls of my new office space which marks an incredible milestone in my life and in my wellness coaching practice, and I am finishing up my work at the high-school which has been really rewarding."
That feels so much better! Honestly. I think I could feel my brain sigh and relax and say, "I'm doing good" rather than the constriction and tension I feel after saying "I am so busy".