My friend said, "I read an article related to optimism at work" and "if someone asks 'How are you', instead of saying 'good', 'fine' etc., reply 'I am terrific' , 'Never felt the same before'". Does this work? Do I do this? Instead of replying privately, I'm setting this out in public. I don't get a lot of blog comments here, but that's okay, I'm still able to share the URL.
First, what does it say about your mental and emotional state if you answer with the standard response ("fine.")? Are you in a rut? Is it simply a meaningless human interchange, similar to a parade wave, non-specific, uninteresting and ritualistic? How often do people really want to know how you're feeling? How often do you want to know many details of colleagues lives when you pass them in the hallway? I like to think I don't always say "fine." I heard that enough from my then-middle-schooler ("How was school?" / "Fine"). I also like to think I don't just ask "How are you" for no reason, or any other alternate version ("how you doing, how's life treating you, what's new?). What are my standard answers? "Peachy keen" is one that gets a laugh. People know from that answer I'm feeling good, spunky, chirpy. And if things aren't going well (you'd have to be a total dreamer to think everything is fine all of the time), then "Meh" or other guttural responses are called for ("Ugh, Bleah, Blech, etc.) Any of these must be followed immediately with some detail, otherwise, just say 'fine."
Second, does your answer depend on who asks the question and how receptive to significant details they are? Yes, of course. There are people who I know that care more about me than others do. I'm not likely to either spend a lot of energy on someone who is unreceptive, nor share burdens with them if they have shown little empathy in the past. That social "check list" of who deserves more openness and honesty is mere human nature. Should we change the menu sometimes and share randomly with those who don't normally listen? Sure, but only with the assumption that you'll get no response.
Third. Do you like winding up total strangers? In the same vein, do you treat every random person equally? I'm not talking about commercial transactions like chatting with store clerks or service people. I'm talking about the man in the street, person on the bus, anyone you stand near in a public place. I'm not always open and communicative, but I think I could and would speak to nearly anyone. Asking how their day is going, and expecting to hear a fully qualified answer, instead of "hi, how you doing, later" is extra-personal.
Fourth: "have you replied like this to anyone before?" (meaning "I'm terrific" not "fine"). Sure, not much lately, but I think I've used the word "awesome" and others instead of bland answers a lot of times. Probably more than others have said it to me, or maybe that's just my spin,
'Jim, how are you'?