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Thursday, 07 February 2013 06:21

Are you pretty good or great?

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What is your response when someone asks, "How are you?"  Your response says a lot about you. Can you answer the question with the word great?
When I was in High School, I was filled with the usual teen angst.  When someone would ask how I was doing today, I would usually respond with something like, "terrible" or "oh God I can't wait for this day to be OVER!"  This was normal to me and I didn't think much of it. 

Now I wonder why I was that way?  I suppose there were adults in my life who were pretty negative and I had just learned to emulate them.  Also, I may have learned it from watching too much television because many shows have a character who acts like that. 

As the years went on, the answer to, "How are you doing?" became "I'm doing" or some slightly depressing answer.  I'm sure if we had Facebook at the time, my daily status updates would have been all doom and gloom.
A few years ago, my spiritual studies brought me to a point where my answer was usually, "OK" or "pretty good" but rarely anything outright negative. Now, what you have to realize is that the pretty-good response seemed to me like I was having a great day.  But the more advanced people would call me out on it and ask, "Just pretty good?"  Those people understand that there's still baggage in that response.  If you answer that way, it carries a sense of just hanging in there, or that you wish things were better.  It isn't uplifting to the person who gets the answer.  When you are asked how you're doing, it's a wonderful opportunity to raise up yourself and others.
Once I realized this, I decided my answer should lose the pretty.  Maybe I could even move up to "Great!"  But for a long time, I found that I kept answering with pretty good.  Each time I would chide myself for answering that way but I would still blurt it out before I could even think. You might ask, "Why not just answer with great all the time, even if you feel terrible?"  That doesn't work well because if you really do feel terrible, then great is too far out of reach.  I'm suggesting that you work your way up by answering with the most positive feeling that is within reach of where you are right now.  So, if you feel awful, then you might be able to answer with, "I've been better" or "OK."  If you think about it, no matter how bad it is, you're still OK if you are alive.
Now that I understood this, I wanted to work myself up to the top of the emotional scale, but progress was a little slow.  Finally, one day at Starbucks, the Barista asked me how I was doing and I answered with, "Good!" A wave of surprise rippled through me, as if I had just emitted some other four letter word. I realized I had finally moved up to good and that I was really feeling better.  Since then, I've proven to myself that answering the question that way makes me feel better, even if I'm not all the way up to good at that moment. 

Also, your response to the question can make the asker feel better or worse.  If your answer is, "Horrible, I think my head is going to explode and someone ran over my dog last night," then think how that makes the other person feel.  Their emotional response might be pity, or (if you respond this way all the time) disgust at how negative you are, or they may even feel like the world is a gloomy and painful place.  On the other hand, if you respond positively, it can give other people a boost.
Now, of course, my personal challenge is to feel "great" when asked.  The word has popped out of my mouth a couple times and it made me reflect on how I do, in fact, feel great.  I think that answering with a highly positive phrase like "I'm great" will have an interesting effect on others.  They will start to build up a mental mythology about you.  They might even talk to each other about what a nice, happy person you are and wonder how you do it.

"How are you?"

"I'm great!"

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