You ever notice that whenever you ask someone how they are, they always say they're fine? And whenever anyone asks you how you are, you always say you're fine, even when you're not? One time someone asked me how I was doing, and, even though I had a horrific head cold, and I had had a really long day, and I just wanted to curl up in my bed and ignore the world for a day, I told this person I was doing just fine, thanks.
I was thinking about this earlier today, and the thought occurred to me that, even though we're taught at a relatively young age to be honest with others, we're all guilty of this lie at some point or another. We all say to someone that we're doing great, even when life has just handed us a huge batch of lemons. I think this comes from the fact that asking someong how he or she is has come to be second nature to us. It's kind of like saying Hi to someone. We ask this person how they are because it's been ingrained into us. Everyone else does it, so we do it too.
The other day, after a horribly rotten day at work, I went to choir practice, and two people came up to me and asked me how I was. Instead of the standard "Fine, thanks," I told them straight out that I had had a really bad day. Both of them immediately asked if there was anything they could do, and offered their support. I walked away thinking how wonderful it was to have friends who actually cared about how my day went.
My point (and I do have one, even though it sometimes takes a while to get around to it), is that I think we (and when I say "we," I mean society as a whole) need to get back to standard etiquette and not do things just out of instinct and habit. We need to take the time to listen to each other. If we ask people how they are, shouldn't we be genuinely interested in their answers? If you don't really care about what they have to say, then why in the world would you ask the question? No wonder we always say "Fine, thanks" whenever anyone asks us how we are.
So, let's all take the time to listen to others. If you aren't interested in how a person is feeling, or how his or her day went, don't ask. And if you do ask, take the time to listen to what he or she has to say. And if someone asks you the same question, be honest. Don't say you're feeling fine if you aren't. You don't have to go into all the details (I didn't with my friends at church), but if you aren't feeling well, say so. If you had a long day at work, mention that. A little bit of honesty and thoughtfulness can go a long way.