When asked ‘How are you doing?’ I’m prepared with three well-rehearsed responses. Which one escapes my lips is a crap shoot on any given day.
- “I’m fine.” – I discovered Etty Hillesum years ago as I researched my Holocaust novel The Hamsa. My cousin Mary Ann from Indiana suggested I read the diary Ms. Hillesum wrote prior to her incarceration and subsequent murder in Auschwitz in November 1943. Titled An Interrupted Life, her complete diary was not published until 1986. In it, she writes a profound statement that I try mightily to apply to my own life sometimes more successfully than other times. Ms. Hillesum wrote, “…. Complaining means shifting the misery onto others.” That is so true. Regardless of what challenges I might be facing on any particular day, when asked how I’m doing, I will respond, “I’m fine.” I’ve no desire to shift my misery on to others.
- “If I was any better, I’d be twins.” – I learned this one over a two decades ago from my friend John ‘for the love of Mike’ Boucher. This response generally elicits a smile at a minimum, more often a good laugh. There’s nothing better than making people laugh. It’s good for them… it’s good for you.
- “I’m doing a lot better than I deserve to be.” – I was schooled on this one some 40 years ago by my good
friend from Boonville, NY, Dave McGrath. Dave was a special guy who lived his life with a smile on his face and abundant goodwill in his heart. Again, Dave’s response is apt to generate a smile.
Most often when you encounter another human being – be it face-to-face or on the telephone – the question ‘How are you doing?’ frequently comes up. Give some thought today on how you will answer. Your response will either lift the spirit of the person who asks, or it will give him cause for concern that will follow him through the day like a dark cloud.
“How are you doing?”
Think before you speak and choose wisely how you answer. Your response can make the world a better place to be.