I live my life by a quote I heard at a conference. The saddest thing is that I don’t know who spoke the phrase, even though it’s become one one my personal mantras.
It’s simple and profound.
Being busy, tired and stressed are our society’s status symbols. Someone asks how you are and you launch into a diatribe on the three cliches.
Here’s the insulting truth—the person who asked couldn’t care less. They don’t really want to know how you are, they’re simply acknowledging that another breathing mammal is in their presence.
They want you to say: “I’m fine, thanks. How are you?”
They don’t want an overview of your overwhelming itinerary.
I’m not suggesting that you’re not busy. I’m sure your stress level fully indicates your hierarchical position on the food chain. Although I should mention here that we all have the same 168 hours between Monday and Sunday, and it may be worth considering how you spend yours if you always feel stressed out. For more on that topic, read You Have More Time Than You Think.
Perhaps we should take time to think about why we’re really so strung out feeling before companions stop inquiring about our day all together. Even worse, we may get so busy being busy that we don’t take time to do what’s really important.
Either way, my recommendation is, when people ask you how you are, just say “fabulous.” Perhaps you might just start to believe it.
I originally wrote this post in June 2010. I updated it for reposting because it’s still just a true today. I hope you enjoy it. If you do, please share it.