“How are you doing today?” Often times when someone inquires about my well-being, I simply reply, “I’m good thanks. How are you?” It’s become second nature to quickly respond and move on. More recently it’s been increasingly difficult for me to slow down and connect with those around me. It seems that every interaction needs to be carefully calculated and planned. When I want to grab tea with a friend or FaceTime my brothers, I must to pencil them into my busy schedule. I seldom have time for spontaneous trips and/or visits. In a culture obsessed by being busy, it is more challenging than ever to make time for human connection.
It doesn’t have to be like this.
In many Muslims cultures, the common greeting, “How are you?” is replaced by, “How is your heart?” Translated in Arabic as, “Kayf haal-ik? or, in Persian, Haal-e shomaa chetoreh? Inspired by this popular phrase, I began to ask those around me about the transient state of their heart. When I asked, “How is your heart today?” I really want to know.
I’m not analyzing your to-do list or how many errands you need to run. I am not interested in the weather patterns for the next week. Nor am I asking about last night’s basketball game. Instead, I truly want to connect with you. When I ask, “How is your heart?” I want to know how your heart is doing, at this very moment. Tell me if you’re hurt and broken. Or, tell me if you’re fulfilled and joyful. If you’re willing to share, I am willing to listen.
Since incorporating this greeting into my daily vocabulary, I’ve noticed the value in slowing down. Time seemingly disappears when I prioritize the personal interactions in my daily life. I’ve made a more concentrated effort to be more present during each face-to-face meeting. More recently, when I engage in meaningful conversations I consciously place my phone on silent and store it in my purse. That way, I am not tempted to scroll through Instagram or check my emails. For a few moments, nothing else seems to matter except for the person in front of me.
This past month, I’ve repeatedly noticed that we are human beings, not human doings. We all crave human connection. We desire to feel a sense of belonging and support. We find fulfillment through intimate relationships. And, we all are overwhelmed by the demands of life. For these reasons, connecting with others is absolutely necessary. We have a social responsibility to engage in meaningful relationships on a frequent basis. These connections go far beyond an Instagram like or a text message. They have the power to dramatically enhance our well- being.
As a self-proclaimed social butterfly, I notice a dramatic difference in my state of being when I engage in frequent interactions with others. I now have to prioritize meeting with friends in order to balance out my hectic lifestyle. Meeting with friends for a hike, tea date, or study session truly makes my heart incredibly happy.
So, friend-to-friend, how is the state of your heart today?
Let us foster human-to-human connections where when one states, “I am just so busy,” we can confidently reply, “I know, love. I understand. But I want to know how your heart is truly doing.”