How are you?

I significantly remember the question ‘How are you?’ after moving to the USA. This question has been on a journey and evolution of it’s own. It’s relevance, in what it means to me, has changed tremendously over the years.

One of the stark experiences of coming to US from India, was the contrast in the experience of going for a walk  here. While a way had to be carved amongst hurried humans on the streets of Mumbai, here the way was all to myself. The sight of a fellow human being  on foot felt most thrilling. Soon I realized that eye contact elicited the question ‘How are you?’ After first few times of an awkward nod-&-smile, I learned that ‘good’ is the preferred answer unlike ‘fine’ in India. Also a following ‘thank you’ made a complete answer. I quickly learned to ask that question now to whoever I crossed path with. I was very amused at the first ‘Not too bad’ reply. Now there was an element of truth to it …I liked that!

Truth be told the question didn’t mean anything to me …it confused me about how can it be a form of greeting to anyone …it felt pretty superficial to me. A question for which an answer was already decided. Being in a new country and being impacted by everything in a brand new way, I admit I had blocked off all feelings except for a sense of wonder for how things operated here. I had no clue how I felt for a ‘How are you?’

Fast forward to a phase of life when I dealt with a health crisis. I truly discovered the value of the question ‘How are you?’ Especially in social circles and acquaintances the question came only from those who really wanted to know. It made a huge difference in my day and life when someone asked me ‘How are you?’ and actually listened. They indulged with me in my lighthearted attempts at humor and reveled in my positive perspectives. Sometimes they let me unload when I was feeling down, lending me their perspectives of how all of it is going to work out all right 🙂 I think I would remember a few ‘How are you?’ encounters during that phase for the rest of my life …

In a ‘regular’ life and world now, I am once again getting uncomfortable with that question. Because now I care too much about that question and the answer. It’s relevance does keep changing depending on who is asking and when. But there is only certain number of times that I have the ‘patience’ to have the answer to that question in a word or two …outside of any professional setting.

One of my yoga teachers introduced this concept of asking ‘How is your heart?’ that truly speaks to me. We often carry within us a feeling in our heart …we feel it tangibly, a heaviness, a block of iron, a hole, an emptiness … it is directly connected to the way we are feeling and being in our being. To answer a ‘good’ while carrying all that within …repeatedly …brings a lot of tediousness, fakeness and more of whatever you are lugging within you. Of course it gets easier when what you are carrying is more of a spaciousness and lightness …

We are social animals for the significant reason that we are together in this. So we connect, we share, laugh and lighten up together. If we are using these opportunities only to deny what we are carrying within …we are denying ourselves the richness of human connection. There is different media used for communication like phone and text, besides personal encounters. With all kinds of time consuming routines that most of us have dedicated to, it has become very important to me that I truly get to answer a ‘How are you?’ to a friend. Also if I am taking the time to ask you ‘How are you?’ I really mean to know from you. Anything that is relevant to you at that time …whether you are excited about your new project, slightly or more worried or stressed at work, busy sorting some family stuff …anything …if you are a friend or anything more than just a professional contact to me …then I care to know. If you ask me ‘How are you?’ it is my heart that wants to speak to you more than the mannerly conditioned human in me.

Let us create a web of connections heart to heart that we can dangle and tangle in … where we feel safe to untangle the knots in our belly and lighten the iron blocks in our heart. Where we are unafraid to be our vulnerable, authentic selves …where our woes are cared for and hearts are nurtured, there need not be any pretense of positivity. We feel what we feel. Let us live together in wonderment of life itself …does it matter whether we laugh or cry or speak our heart as a response to a thoughtful ‘How are you?’

Funny thing is that now I feel so lost at a ‘How are you?’ casually thrown at me…I almost want to say …’I have no idea in the moment’ …because the heart feels a lot. 🙂


46 thoughts on “How are you?

  1. I really can relate to this. I do answer how I am in an honest way. Perhaps not detail, but… more like your last paragraph. I also enjoyed hearing the perspective of someone coming into this country, sharing perspectives builds bridges.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Laurie, so appreciate having your comment. Yes, details are something of a choice 🙂 And yes isn’t it what interesting what little things make a difference when in a different country? 🙂 Loved what you said about perspectives build bridges, thank you!!


  2. Truly wonderful ! Great articulation of what could be a simple but impactful question that we hear so often on the streets, at home and at work, from the knowns and the unknowns. Actually , can’t agree more on the amusement that me too as an Indian has had multiple times walking on the streets of US to hear the question from fellow passer bys. Great observation and wonderfully expressed in the blog !
    One perspective that i have had is while the heart feels what it feels , does saying ” i am doing good” send a positive signal to my mind and reinforce a state of positivity in case its feeling a bit low. And thats just purely thinking from a “positivity” angle !

    Indeed an awesome read !!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dheeraj, I truly appreciate you visiting my blog, reading and reflecting back your thoughts. Thank you for your time 🙂
      Your perspective is very valid. Positivity does breed more of the same. Though if it doesn’t feel true, takes the form of pretense, is not working in your favor then it just becomes more heavy on you. Positivity cannot become a chore 🙂 So let’s let it flow from the heart.

      I am really happy to hear from you!


  3. What a lovely, inspiring post. Yes, we’re tethered together yet alone; set apart. I love the idea of asking ‘How is your heart?’ It’s hard not to despair at the disconnection we can sometimes experience as we go around wearing our masks. As you say, striking the balance between positivity and authenticity is so important. It’s about feeling congruent within.

    Thanks so much for sharing.
    I’m going to ask someone today….’How is your heart?’

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Mairi, You have extracted my true intentions behind the post and reflected back in great words. I love how you say feeling congruent within. Thank you so much for your time and thoughtfulness! I am sure you made someone really happy with that question …

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Great article! I like the phrase ‘How is your heart’ for more intimate interactions. The greeting, ‘How are you’ is a fascinating one for sure with a life of its own in many sub cultures. I enjoyed your take on it 🙂


  5. This is my 3rd attempt in last 3 days one after another to comment on your post, but failed.

    Every time it asks for login details even after completing formalities , my comments not published at your comment section.

    Hope this time I will succeed.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I am so so sorry this is happening to you. Universe has interesting ways 🙂
      Just asking …are you attempting to do this on your phone …because I have experienced problems on wordpress through phone …but never through the laptop.
      Thank you for letting me know though, I wonder if more people are experiencing this …I will check settings again.
      BTW, one more 2 word per line poem came through me 🙂 …I am very excited to post soon, and now ever so curious what you had to say on this post!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Your comment brought me a smile, so thank you for that and your time truly. I really hope you get to use a genuine “How are you?” wherever you are! Words are not important. Maybe you can start your version of a heartfelt conversation 🙂 …Let me know what you think

      Liked by 1 person

      • That was nice,I was just watching a movie called interstellar and in one of your coments you wrote ‘universe has interesting ways’ it reminded me of how we truly are connected to each other, don’t know how and why I am writing this but reading your post I felt that you genuinely wanted to share the feeling of ‘how are you’ and that life has more meaning to it than just writing posts.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Reblogged this on Infinite Living and commented:

    Sometimes we get reminded, reinforced, reinspired, reassured about being steadfast in our core beliefs of the ways of being in the world. This blog of mine was my way of conveyance of my beliefs of human connections. So bringing it up for a reread …and the following podcast says all that I might have missed saying!


  7. This is such a heart warming post PD! I can relate as an iincomer to the USA from Scotland. Where I come from How are you? Is a real question opening up a conversation about health, family and life. May your heart be well 💕

    Liked by 1 person

    • Val, I am so gratified that you read this post 🙂 Thank you for sharing about the relevance of the question in Scotland …it is so amazing how much we learn from our different cultures. Ease and joy to your heart as well.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. What a beautiful read, Pragalbha! A sentence which has time and again resonated among friends, neighbors and even strangers. What got me thinking was when the people did not even expect an answer. Your words bring warmth as I know that you really care and your question is just more than a formality.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. WoW!!! this was amazing…….heartfelt, honest, beautiful and profound…….no stranger here, would ask another stranger that……..i think, if you don’t care, you shouldn’t ask and if the other person doesn’t care…..why reply………and like you said in the end…..the heart wants to just unload sometimes………..and sometimes a simple ‘how are you’ can be enough to shatter our efforts towards inner peace. 🙂 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • and sometimes a simple ‘how are you’ can be enough to shatter our efforts towards inner peace …Wow loved what you said with this!
      So so happy to have your thoughtful comments after a long time! Thank you!


  10. Lived in US I can relate all what wrote.. I found mostly its a “Hello” packaged differently. I rather prefer “Hello” than “How are you doing?” .. I don’t think anyone expected any other answer than “Good” .. I like the newer trend “Hey” … we just want a attention most of the times… 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Such a wonderful post.

    I’ve often heard people say that “everything has a purpose” and I’m so glad my post today brought me here.

    I really liked how you brought about the impact of a simple “How are you”, the feelings associated with it, and the lovely question “How’s your heart?” It was enriching to read this post. I liked this post the most out of all that I’ve read so far from you 🙂

    Thank you so much for sharing your lovely lovely gifts 💙

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I don’t know how I missed reading this! And it’s quite odd that we’d write something so similar within weeks of one another. I totally agree (of course) and I like that your cultural background helped you to see this from a new perspective; it also confirms that I’m not crazy. People do use this as a greeting! I like, “how is your heart”? a lot better ❤

    Liked by 1 person

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