One of the things I would like to do less of this year is stop answering every “How are you?” question with “Fine.”

Fine is a perfectly fine response to the 17-year-old barista at Starbucks, or to the bored-to-tears checkout clerk at Target. They’re complete strangers, and are just trying to make it to the end of their shift. Fine is an appropriate answer for them. Fine, how are YOU doing is a little better.

But to people closer to me, I would like to come up with a more honest answer.

I keep coming back to the concept that “Fine” is usually code for Feelings Inside Not Expressed. F.I.N.E.

The timing often isn’t right to go beyond F.I.N.E. I get that. But I wonder what would happen when the timing is conducive to a more genuine answer. Could I take the risk to be more candid in my response?

What if I were to answer the “How Are You” question with something like

I’m worried

I’m in reflective mode about a decision I have to make? How about you?

I’m grateful for an unexpected blessing that came my way

I’m concerned some of my relationships aren’t going well right now

I’m sad and I’m lonely

I’m wondering if I told you how I really am if you would listen or care?

Hmm. It’s that last potential answer that’s often subconsciously on my mind.

What about you? What alternatives to “Fine” do you have in response to “How are you?” What would you like to say to people close to you that goes beyond F.I.N.E.?

Oh, and that 17-year-old Starbucks barista? My grandson Grant is one of those. He often asks, “So how’s your day going so far? or What are your plans for today?” Far better questions to ask strangers than “How are you?”

Hmm, again. Maybe I should concern myself with asking better questions, and less about better answers.


P.S. Only 14 more days until the start of our You Were Made for This podcast. Here are a few recent listener/reader comments that have come in:

With regard to last week’s Every Wednesday email, one reader clicked on the link I mentioned, Christmas Food Court Flash Mob, and wrote “That shopping mall thing brought me to tears. It was awesome. Thanks for sharing!”

The What Mary Treasured on Christmas Day podcast episode (no. 47) evoked this response from a listener “One thing additional about Mary and her pondering – I’m curious if Janet would concur – I believe most every mother can give a blow by blow of the delivery day of her first child, maybe even each of her children. I know I can. Childbirth is monumental and shocking. Even to a teenager, as I was one myself. Both times.”

A number of listeners also responded by telling me It’s a Wonderful Life! is one of their favorite movies, too. Sadly, however, one listener admitted to watching the “enhanced” (i.e colorized) version. The police have been notified and an investigation is under way.