Writer. Advice giver. Peanut butter and chocolate enthusiast.

Your Answer to This Question Says More About You Than You Think

Smiling man with a sign that says Be Happy

“How’s it going?”

How often are you asked that?

It’s the go-to greeting you hear as you go through life, whether you’re passing a coworker in the hall, meeting a friend for lunch or seeing your spouse at the end of the workday.

Because of its ubiquity, we don’t put much thought into our response.

At least, I never have, because it’s felt like a throwaway line, a one-word ticket to get me either a) past the awkwardness of a fleeting interaction, or b) through to the important part of the conversation.

But with an assist from this podcast episode, I now believe our answer means so much more.

For instance, my standard answer is, “Good.”

This reveals key insights into not only my emotional state, but into my worldview and overall experience of life:

  • Oftentimes, I am good.
  • I’m good — but not great.
  • Even when I’m not good, I want everyone to think I am.

I am not alone in this.

Think about the people in your life — friends, family members, bosses, neighbors, the guy you run into at the gym, whomever.

Now think about how they most commonly respond to the question, “How’s it going?”




“<No words, just an overwhelmed sigh accompanied by a shake of the head>”?

My guess is that for a large percentage of these people, their answer is indicative of the type of person they are — or the type of person they want the outside world to see.

This hypothesis is by no means foolproof, and it doesn’t apply to everyone.

But I know it applies to me, which is why I believe it’s worthy of experimentation.

So the other day, I declared myself patient zero.

As I walked into my office building in the morning, when my favorite security guard asked me, “How’s it going?” instead of replying with my usual, “Good,” I bumped it up to, “Great.”

Despite everything I’ve said to this point, I was still dubious it’d move the needle.

But I was wrong.

I don’t know if this was a case of “Fake it till you make it,” or if it was something else, but it felt different. It felt different saying it, and it felt different hearing myself say it. There was an elevated energy and more positive vibe, even if by only a little.

While I have no illusions that this vocabulary adjustment will solve my problems, I’m optimistic it’s a start. And the hope is that with time and reps, it can help heighten what’s too often a safe, middle-of-the-road existence into something, well, greater.

But the best news from rep one of this experiment, though, was the impact it had beyond me.

After telling the security guard how it was going for me, I asked how it was going for her.

And as it always has in the past, her response mirrored mine:


Let the virus spread…


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