James Kettle

When someone asks you how you are doing, how do you respond? Do you say the classic, “ça va”, or the “I’m good”, or do you go right into why you had a terrible week, and that you have too much work, and that the world is falling apart, and so on and so on? But have you ever examined what this automatic reaction has done for you? Has this emotional safeguarding or unpacking really helped you? What if there was a better way to respond to the terrifying question of “how are you”?

People are social beings; we thrive knowing that other individuals share our experience. This fact may be helpful when you fail a test and you see that your neighbour also got a 9/20 and you both feel a little less bad. But this fact can turn sour quickly when someone brings negative energy into a room. No matter how much you think you are immune to others, we give off vibes and energies that do not only affect us but everyone else as well. So, a smile can turn someone’s ok day into a good one and a series of cries of regret can turn someone’s normal day to a bad one.

So, smile, we all depend it.

We have an enormous power to control our mood. Do you ever notice when you listen to happy upbeat music you naturally become upbeat and happier, and when you listen to The Smiths you want to walk into the ocean? Everything that you do affects your mood, and this in turn affects others. So, we all have a responsibility to take care of ourselves, not only for selfish reasons, but because when one more person is happy, then everyone else becomes a little happier. When the cold winter months are in full swing, the rains are pouring, and the weather is bitterly cold, we all deserve to be a little happier.

In high school, my mentor had a rule for himself: when asked how he was, he would always respond “Excellent” no matter how he was feeling. Sometimes he would only feel ok, and sometimes he would feel bad, and if you had known him for long enough you could tell when he wasn’t being completely honest. But every time he said he was excellent a small or big smile would sneak out from his lips and then you began to smile and everyone in the room was a little happier.

So I challenge you, the next time someone asks you “how are you?” – say excellent. See if you can’t help but smile, see if the person who asked you can’t help but smile, and when you are both smiling, realise that you made the world a little better with a single word.

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