Friday, October 10, 2008

"How are you?" "Good. And you?"

I was listening to a discussion about feelings this morning. The point was made that so many people cannot adequately answer the question "How are you?" The speaker went on to say it was his opinion that we simply don't know ourselves well enough to answer the question; that we aren't in tune enough to know the many different feelings we're capable of, much less how to explain it.

I agree - but I also think we're in a society that doesn't exactly value "listening." We rush, rush, rush around - breezing past people in hallways or on the sidewalk; we multi-task to the point of insanity - cooking dinner, tv on in the background while the children ask us questions about homework and our husbands explain how they're going to help their brother cut down a tree this weekend (wait, is that really what he said?).... anyway... that's another discussion for another day.

When someone asks me "How are you?" I can honestly say I don't consider it a question that someone put forth because they honestly care to stay and listen to the answer. But the speaker had a point: How would I answer that question if I wasn't permitted to reply with the obligatory "good! And you?" response that I'm used to?

Happiness is definately defined by a person's individual standards; it's certainly not universal. Case in point: If I told you happiness is a dog curled up in your lap would you agree? You would if you loved dogs. But for the person (me) who is highly allergic and submits herself to two shots a week in an attempt to someday breathe like a normal person, I can honestly say that would NOT be happiness. To me, that would be torture. (And I'm not even going to get into the dog hair that would be stuck all over my clothes - ick!) What if I told you happiness is balancing your checkbook at the end of the month and finding out you have a positive balance of $1.17? Would you be jumping for joy or severely depressed? I remember the day I balanced and saw I had $1.17 left over after all the bills were paid. I was so ecstatic - I called everyone I knew! To me, that moment was so much better than winning a lottery. I had single-handedly reclaimed my independence. I, alone - just me - had paid all my bills, had fed my daughter, had fed myself - and I had $1.17 still in my pocket!!

We define "happiness" in the way that makes sense for ourselves, no one else can do it for us. So, I say - Go out and do the things that make you HAPPY. Enjoy the things that put a smile on your face. It doesn't matter that no one else "gets it." It may be a hot cup of coffee, a good book, a 45 minute shower with the kids locked out of the bathroom, a walk, hanging the children's artwork all over the house (even though someone else might say it doesn't match or isn't meant to go there). It may be taking a ride in a car, or watching horses in a pasture, or writing in a journal, or doing yoga, or playing Scrabble with your 90 year old grandmother. The point is, do something so you can answer that question in a better way:

"How are you?"


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