In preparing for my upcoming trip to China, I met with a teacher from my high school to learn more about the culture. He also taught me some helpful phrases (here's to not speaking Spanish to Chinese people!).
We started at the beginning:
Then he said there's another phrase I'll hear more often:
ni chi le ma
Have you eaten?
He said it's not really a question of whether or not you've eaten. It used to be back when there was a famine in China. But now it has become more of a greeting.
"Like here asking 'How are you?' No one cares; it's not any of my business if you've eaten or not," he said.
America, when we ask "How are you?" Do we really care?
More often than not, the answer is no.
I heard a story once about professor and a student walking opposite ways down the hallway. The professor greeted the student and asked how he was. The student answered, and they both continued to walk towards each other. In that moment of awkwardness, again the professor asked, "How are you?" Again the student answered before they finally passed and went on their way.
That professor didn't care how the student was doing; he just wanted something to say.
I'm guilty of it, too. People ask how I am and I say "Good" before I even think about the question. In being more conscious of this, I have started to say, "No, that's a lie. I'm ok."
Of course, you can't spill your soul to everyone you meet, but it is vital to have at least one someone to whom you can say, "I'm not ok and this is why."
Take it from someone who doesn't have constant access to that kind of friend anymore... it's not easy being alone.
Because we're not intended to be alone!
"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before Him He endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart."
Hebrews 12:1-3 (emphasis mine)
Let's re-claim "How are you?" and only ask if when you mean it.
But it's hard.
For me, when I really mean it, I'm trying to train myself to ask, "Are you having a good day?"
What about you? Do you have any tips?
Wo chi le
PS: It is grammatically correct to answer "Good" OR "Well" to "How are you?" However, it would be incorrect to answer "Good" to "How are you doing" unless you are actually doing good... and serving in a soup kitchen, working on a mission trip, loving the Lord's people...