How Are You?

Guest post by Peter Taylor of

One naturally compassionate thing that we routinely do is to check in with each other to see how we are doing. Asking, “How are you?” is not an existential question about what astronomically improbable circumstances conspired to bring an entity such as you into being.  It is a polite way to greet another person that acknowledges the fact that life has its ups and downs. The question is a caring probe into the feelings of a fellow human being.

Whether we ask or are asked this important question, it can serve to remind us of our compassionate nature and help us to remember that we are basically good, no matter how we feel when confronted with this question.

The polite answer is often, “I’m fine.” That habitual answer can represent a missed opportunity to be mindful. It may gloss over our present feelings or a dangerous supposition that we may not be fine. If we notice ourselves habitually answering, suddenly, we are aware. If, in our awareness, we recognize compassion occurring, one person caring about another person, then we are being mindful. Mindfulness breaks us out of our habitual mental state and gives us an opening to appreciate our interconnectedness.

In Zen and mindfulness practices, we continually look for invitations to be aware and compassionate in the present moment. Zen ads that existential element where each moment is an opportunity to wake up to the wonder of what we are. How we actually are is a mystery beyond the ups and downs of our moods. Whenever we take a moment to step out of our habitual thinking and feel our interconnectedness with another human being or with the moon, we feel fine, well, and good, basically.

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