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How Are You? Hint: Think Before You Answer

Post by Blog Manager Robbi Hess

How many times a day does someone pose the question, "How are you?" I've been asked that countless times and even in the midst of recovering from breast cancer surgery and treatment, I'd typically answer, "Great. You?"

If a family member or close friend would ask me that, I'd answer honestly. If I am out in public and the question is asked by a cashier, believe me they don't truly want to know how you are. They're making small talk and you shouldn't feel free to unload your personal issues on this individual -- true story that I have heard that numerous times.

Don't go thinking I am Miss Merry Sunshine, I'm not. I have bad days. I have worse days and I have days when I am so thrilled to simply be alive and thriving. What I have discovered as a two-year breast cancer thriver is that you need to embrace every moment and try to look for the good even in the face of the bad.

What can you do to honestly answer, "Great. You?" Here are some steps I've found to be helpful in my Picture1 quest for positivity:

  1. Count your blessings. I try to take a few minutes at the beginning and the end of every day to take stock and give thanks. Even if I have had a horrid day I can find at least three things to be grateful for; my continued health, the love of my family, and the fact that the grocery store was carrying my favorite donut -- hey, sometimes that is as far as you can go with a gratitude.
  2. Don't be a faker. If your day is going horribly and you can't see light at the end of the tunnel reach out to a friend or family member. Talk it through. Ask for help. Vent. Sometimes all it takes is a sympathetic ear, a shoulder to cry on and then you're able to move forward with a clearer head. Don't close yourself off from those who want to help. It was not easy, when I was recovering to accept offers to come and clean my house, walk my dog or cook me dinner (actually that one was easier than the rest!). Your friends truly want to help -- let them!
  3. Take a break. Sometimes you just need to throw your hands up in the air and take a break. Get away from what is bothering you. Take a walk. Scream into a pillow. Developing a positive attitude won't happen overnight, but give it time and give yourself a break.
  4. Don't isolate yourself. I work from home and am inherently a solitary person. I'd prefer a conversation with Henrietta, the diva Poodle, to most other people on any given day, but I know that staying home and not interacting with humans isn't healthy. Some days you may only be able to handle the casual interaction with a cashier at the local coffee shop, and that's all right. Getting out and connecting with people is necessary to good mental health -- online interaction cannot replace that no matter how active you are on social media or how many friends you have on Facebook.
  5. Make it happen. When I used to teach at a local literary center there was a person who would come to my classes and truly bemoan the fact that no one had ever asked to read her novel. "Did you tell people about it or submit it to an agent?" I asked. Her answer was, "No. It's in my drawer at home but people know I am a writer!" WHAT?! Just as no one was going to come knocking on her door to ask about her hidden manuscript, no one is going to come knocking on your door to offer you happiness. You need to get up, get out and seek it out. If no one is inviting you to go to the movies or on a picnic in the park, then you need to be the one to issue the invitation.

What can you do today to make the answer to the "how are you" question be, "Great!" 


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Joan DeMartin

I have many a conversation with my dog, Bocci, and am happier for it!

Jobi Harris

I think I just did it by reading your post! #4 is definitely me, and I made a decision at the beginning of the week to get out of my office more often (I also work at home). And guess what? I really have not done it yet.
Today's the day to start!

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