How are you? Annoyingly fine, thanks for asking!

Hey, how are you?

You hear this question all the time, but how do you answer it?

Some time ago I actually noticed that my no-brainer answer is “I’m fine” no matter how I really am at that moment. I took it lightly and responded carelessly. And as I tend to like to please people and don’t want to bother them with my problems, I’ve rather convinced myself I’m fine than checking how I am. Whether I was tired, anxious, irritated, sad, bored, etc. I ignored all that and acted that I’m fine ‘for the sake’ of those around.

But who I was fooling here? Did that change the situation for better?

Not really.

As soon as I become aware of this habitual pattern I quickly realized it doesn’t serve me. But of course, the shift didn’t happen overnight. There was a long transition period when I got annoyed with myself each time I casually said “I’m fine”. Even though I usually put annoyingness in the ‘negative emotion’ box, it was actually quite important. As a strong emotion, it helped me to catch myself in the habitual act and that reminded me to actually check-in how am I (besides being annoyed). 

When I became more authentic in response to “how are you” I also become more present and in tune with my actual state of bodymind. Yes, I put myself in a more vulnerable position by being honest with myself and others about how I am, but at the same time, this opened the space for more love, compassion, relationship, and clearer communication.

I used a casual “how are you” as a trigger for this simple mindfulness practice. With time I started to check in with myself more often. I decided to make it even more systematic by setting up a phone alarm to remind me (5 times during the day) to come back to myself and check my current bodymind state. I observed my breath, posture, tension and movements in the body, attention and intention of thoughts. 

This is a good way to quickly put this into your system and then it becomes a habit. A very different kind of habit than the one I started with. A habit that you really appreciate in the days when you barely keep your head above water. In that times it serves me as a shelter where I can catch the breath again. 

Find the answer in your body

Do you want to try? Here is an exercise for you:

Step 1: becoming aware. Get annoyed with your blandly “I’m fine” and find some variety in your answers. If you need some motivation to get annoyed by being fine all the time watch this.

Step 2: dedicated practice. If you already have a variety of replies, check in with yourself more often or you might even want to set few alarms during the day to strike you unprepared in the moments you can make good use of some bodyfulness – it’s like mindfulness only that your presence is in the body. You can also use the time of your yoga practice, running, or similar to stay aware of the body.

Step 3: mindfulness expertise. Stay in the present and aware state while multitasking all your everyday assignments. This step is actual application of your previous practice into daily life. Don’t underestimate a dedicated practice time (step 1&2) by jumping to the application (step 3) too quickly. You will be surprised how big the gap there is between isolated time for practice and real-life chaos.

So tell me now, how are you?

Photo by Katya Austin on Unsplash