How Are You?


When was the last time that you asked a person that question “how are you” and really wanted an honest reply? It happened to me yesterday. I saw a casual friend in the grocery store and as a habit simply asked how she was. I was in a hurry and I really didn’t have time to listen for her reply. But I took the time and asked about her kids and what they were up to. We certainly didn’t go deep in the conversation but just scraped the surface.

My son was a part of mental health campaign on his college campus reminding people to really ask how people are. Their video they made really impacted me in how I ask that “how are you?” question. With long cold winters this question can become even more important.

When my son was first diagnosed with Crohns several years ago, people would ask me the “how are you” question. I knew when they asked me, that they really didn’t want the real answer. I knew that they didn’t want me to say how scared I was. Or how I blamed myself for his disease. Or how I cried in the ER as the doctor told me that they know all their Crohns’ patients by their first names. Or how when I took him to Mayo and we were sleeping in our hotel room I would have tears hitting my pillow as I prayed for good news at our next appointment. Most people just wanted me to answer with a “good” or a “fine.”

When I saw the “how are you” video last week it took my breath away. My New Year’s Resolution of 2016 is to have authentic relationships and have authentic conversations with people. It is such a simple question but one that resonates with my authentic conversation goal of 2016.

I worry our socializing is happening more and more in front of a screen. I see people who have 2,000 friends on Facebook and struggle to get out of bed and have face to face conversations. As I was talking to a friend yesterday about how hard it is to connect with even the people we love face to face these days, she said when she was growing up her mom always had a pan of bars at the ready and friends would just stop over unannounced.

My husband is not a fan of people stopping by unannounced. I am a fan. I am that girl who when stopping by to see a friend, I will give the one knock and walk in. When my husband is standing next to me when I do that, he looks at me like I am an alien. He needs to get over that.

This is why we need to get back to making the pan of bars and having people stop in, isolation. I know that my house is at its most clean and organized right before I have a party or before I have friends stop over.

The state of our home can tell us a lot about the state of our mental health. When a friend or family member walks into chaos, red flags will go up and they will really ask the question “how are you.”

When people tell me about their messy mother or father in law, I always listen. Often our conversation ends with, if you really think this person is a hoarder you need to help them get mental health help. Hoarding is a mental health disorder and listed in the DSM-V, which is the manual that mental health providers use. I am blessed to live in a community that has a strong presence of providers that specialize in hoarding. Start the conversation. Make the phone call.

But often we don’t even make it past the front door. We are never invited over. They become more and more isolated. So this week start asking the people in your life, “how are you?” And really listen to their answer. Don’t let them get away with a simple good or fine. Open the door to an authentic conversation. It’s time to get away from the screen and in front of the person. Bake a pan of bars and invite some friends over for authentic conversations and get to the bottom of “how are you?”


To Joyful, Simplified Organizing,

MS. Simplicity

Melissa is a Productivity Consultant living in Fargo, North Dakota doing her best of living a life full of adventure. Filling a life of memories and not of things!