What's the biggest lie you've ever told? Why? Would you tell the truth now, if you could?
"I'm fine." Two short, simple words. A standard, almost expected, answer to "how are you?" And the biggest lie I (and you) have told. Day in and day out.
Have you ever spent time around kids? The ones who are still young enough to be serious and wide-eyed all at once. The ones who tell it straight with refreshing (and oftentimes humorous) candor. The ones, who, when asked "how are you?" give an honest answer. They're silly. They're happy. They're excited. They're grumpy. They're sad. They're angry. They're hurt. They're jumping. They're giggly. Whatever their mood is in that exact moment is their answer. Never just "okay" or "fine."
But somewhere along the way, we grow up a little and sharing those emotions, especially those present, right-here-right-now emotions, feels wrong somehow. Feels like we're saying too much or giving too much insight into our hearts. And so we start answering "I'm fine." or "I'm okay." instead of telling the truth.
And I hate it.
The more we say "I'm fine," the more we hold back our feelings and we deny our true selves the chance to legitimize our feelings. And in the end, we hurt ourselves. We don't allow our true feelings to shine through. We add an average grey answer to an already average, grey world.
What we need is more people who tell the truth, even if they choose not to expand on the answer, when they're asked, "how are you?" We need answers that say, "I'm silly today," "I'm slaphappy from too little sleep," "I'm fantastic," "I'm cold," I'm on top of the world," "I'm grumpy." The only wrong answer to the question is, "I'm fine."
Once I was aware of how often I answered "I'm fine," I started trying to consciously answer something different, something honest whenever I am asked "how are you?" I don't always resist. Sometimes fine is all there is, but I've noticed that with more honest answers, I feel better and my relationships are stronger. Joe isn't guessing if "fine" means "happy KtMac" or "angry KtMac" or "tired KtMac." I might just say, "I'm having a grumpy day," and leave it at that, but then at least Joe or my friends or my loved ones know how to approach me instead of trying to guess and having our relationship dinged or damaged if it's a wrong guess.
And with each honest answer, I feel closer to the real me, instead of some automaton. I feel more in control of who I am and how my day is. And that's an incredibly empowering feeling.
Try it, my friends, see if giving an answer besides "I'm fine," or "I'm okay" makes a difference in your day!