How Are You?... Really?

Sunday, September 25, 2011 1:01 AM Posted by Molly MacIntyre 0 comments
The question "how are you?" Really... almost nobody cares about the answer you give them anyway. It's so bad that some people will ask "how are you" and when you're just about to answer they get distracted, start another conversation, or don't even wait for you to answer before talking about something else... wow. It's become a programed response. For people like me, I despise this question because I am stuck with the dilemma of how I'm going to answer. Being a person that values honesty, I want to answer it honestly, but when things aren't "awesome" not everyone wants to hear "well... actually I'm rather stressed, and I forgot to eat lunch, so now I have a headache." Now what do I do?... lie? "I'm great... YOU?" Nope, can't do it. So lately I've been sticking to phrases like "I'm OK" or "could be worse -smile-" Just honest enough, but not too honest (we've all experienced that when it was not expected...awkward). I have even heard of people answering on a Likert scale. "On a scale of 1-10 I'm about an 8." Now to be fair there are those, like myself, who only ask this question when we are prepared for an honest answer (i.e. not the 1st week I know you). I have even had times where I will given a programed answer like "fine" and they will again say "how are you" I find this refreshing because so many of us are used to small talk and "Midwest manners"- I can't wear makeup that thick, makes me feel like a birthday clown at a wedding- painfully out of place.
Now lets discuss the answer "busy... but good." I hear this one all the time so lets dissect this out a bit. We say we're "busy" but we're "good." What does that even mean? When was the last time you were really busy, and felt "good" about being that busy? Maybe it's code for "I'm really stressed with ___ and have a lot of ___ to do,  but there isn't much I can do about it because I can't quit my job/school, fire my boss, get rid of my wife/husband, or ignore my kids, so I'm just going to say I'm good and call it a day." (disclaimer- this sounds really sad and pessimistic of me but honestly that is what I hear every day from people I do consults with). Now obviously there isn't a cookie cutter answer for everyone here as to why we say this, but I think that if there was, it would lie in the western world paradigm that makes us see ourselves in terms of how much stuff we do in a day. Instead of how many people's lives we have touched, how many things we have experienced, or who we are with.
Maybe the real issue is that we are actually somewhere else when we should be present with people. We ask how someone is doing and we aren't focused on them, we fill our time with temporary things instead of those that are eternal. What do you value? And does your daily life reflect those values?

Saying No To Many Good Things.

12:29 AM Posted by Molly MacIntyre 0 comments
One quote that has stuck in my mind the last year is "Say no to many good things, so you can say yes to a few great things." I absolutely LOVE that quote because like so many people, I subconsciously think I'm invincible. I really do think I can do it all- I'll have time, I always get it done "or I will stay up until I do." OK so maybe your not like me, you enjoy your freedom, you have a few big responsibilities but you don't feel pulled in many different directions... I envy you. I do so much but sometimes I feel like it's not enough. What is it that drives that? I recently did the Strengths Finders test, and the first two of my top five were Achiever and Activator.... ha, go figure (I really recommend you do that by the way- free when you buy the book). Have you ever started something with this idea of how it was going to go, and then months later realize it's really not going where you thought it would? I find that when I say "yes" to so many different things in my life, I have this idea of how it's going go, how I'm going to be able to put time into it. Then, months later reality hits and I begin to experience this rude awakening that "no, you can't do everything." Lets be honest with ourselves here because who really WANTS to do everything? We may all think we do (achievers), but no one wants to be that busy all the time.
For many people I believe the problem is that there are so many good things we could be doing. You could volunteer as a youth leader or community organizer, start an activities group, or go to Bible study, cooking class, or take dance lessons. Maybe you want to workout 7 days a week or run a marathon all while being a doctorate student and work 50+ each week. There is nothing wrong with any of these things in and of themselves, they're good, and when they can become a priority they are life giving and really fun. My question here is this... why do many things poorly, when you can do few things well? I struggle with this on a regular basis so I have to keep asking myself this very question. Maybe I need to say no to a lot of good things- the youth group, and the marathon, the Bible study and overtime at work.... for now. Maybe all I can do right now is what I know I have been called to do which is to be a good student while finishing my doctorate, and put in 37 hrs at work and no more. Doing them well, instead of doing a lot more and inevitably failing at all of them. Let me put this clearly, you can't have it all. A truly honest life will recognize that saying yes to something means saying no to something else. Maybe being a teacher means you're not going to be a millionaire by the time you're 30, or maybe going to school year round means you don't get to go on vacation, and you have to live in the same city for the next 3 years.  You also may have to give up your dream of being a model if you decide to watch daytime TV and eat fast food, or better yet do them at the same time. All good things (minus the daytime TV and fast food), but you get my point. Choice. I am glad I have a choice. I'm beginning to notice I am much happier when I say no to a lot of the extras. It can be hard for someone like me because I am up for anything and I love being around people and doing something new, but I'm a lot happier when I say no sometimes. In doing that, I get to say yes to the real important stuff, which is so much better than being busy with no direction.