What a question, right? Pretty loaded, if you ask me. I mean, I stand in line a bunch (TSA pre-check, waiting for a taxi, lining up to board a flight, etc.), and I consider myself to be fairly friendly (if you have a differing opinion about me, please message me separately instead of writing a public comment---I'm only trying to make a point here. ) ;) So, I often find myself engaged in common questions like that, "How are you doing?" "Where are you headed?", etc. I wonder, sometimes, though, if we should be asking those questions unless we honestly care about the answer.
I recently had a participant in one of my workshops who was having issues with her blood sugar. She asked me to step into the hallway to tell me she wasn't feeling great but she didn't want to miss this training (I think she said, "this most incredibly enlightening and best training ever" but my memory could be fading). ;)
I told her if she needed to step out and sit down on the floor (the only light in the entire building was our training room---the rest of the building would have been an amazing spot for a quick nap (or the boogie man, whichever)), that would be fine. She thanked me and we went about our business. About an hour later, I knelt down beside her (while others were reading something) and quietly asked her how she was doing. She looked at me like I was an alien, a nice one, I guess, and said, "I am doing better. Thank you so much for asking." She was sincere and I was sincere.
How often do we do this in schools (or other places of business, for that matter)? How often do we ask each other how the person is doing and honestly wait to find out or honestly take the sincerity to care, deeply. I have worked in a school in which that was the norm. If you were feeling down, there was someone there that would care, hug you, let you cry an ugly cry on their shoulder (even if your tears messed up their dress), and might even pray with you privately. I love that school! And I love all the other schools in which honest caring happens.
I am amazed at the surprise in people's eyes when I offer my email and tell them to email me with specific questions about the topic we discussed. I think it is only after they have done it and gotten a response that they honestly believe I meant it.
I have a confession to make: I say "Fine" to most people if they ask me how I am doing, and, to be honest, most the time I am. But every once in a while, I love knowing there is someone to whom I can say, "I am feeling a little sad today", and I can get a response that uplifts me (or makes me think, or makes me do work on figuring out why I am sad, or simply tells me that it is totally okay to be sad). What I won't do is wallow in sadness, as I learned a long time ago that wallowing in it is about as helpful as wallow in a pile of poo (or mud, whichever analogy doesn't make you want to throw up).
We need people with whom we can be totally ourselves.
Just for today, maybe tell those folks how grateful you are for them.
Because, with them, "There ain't no mountain high enough"
and who doesn't need a little of that in our lives?