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Changing Habits

November 20, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

Ever since that dinner conversation (see entry for Nov. 4) about the annoying habit Americans have of saying “How are you?” when they greet you, I’ve been noticing how often people ask me that.  I try to avoid answering the question and launch into conversation instead, but that’s harder than you think.  The thing is, people who really know and care about me ask me how I’m doing and I ask the same of people I sincerely care about.  These are people who would stop if I answered the question in any way other than “Fine” and people for whom I’d stop.  In that context, it’s sweet – this habitual check-in with friends.  I still get annoyed when I’m asked that question by people who have little interest in me; in the same way that I’m annoyed by small talk.  But I’m strongly considering changing my opinion of this ritual we have checking in with our friends.

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  1. cathyk
    November 21, 2009 at 9:40 am

    HI Julia… thanks for this … I am living in “ordinary time” in a super busy job and interacting with too many people while I have a lot on my mind … In response, I’ve kind of routinized my interactions (How are you, etc)… as a coping device… what do you think

  2. November 22, 2009 at 8:14 am

    It’s hard to assess someone else’s life, but I find that whenever I become mindful about something, I can’t help but become thoughtful about it — understand why I do it, decide if I want to keep doing it and reframe the activity in a way that is helpful to me. Of course, being so mindful about something is a fair amount of work, so I can only pay attention like that to one or two things at a time.

    I tried to limit my interactions with people by not talking to people when I moved to an entirely new setting. That worked in a lot of ways, but it brought up unexpected issues. I used to be “super busy” and interacting with others all the time. Now I’m not. But sometimes I’m lonely and sometimes I crave deadlines and structure. That’s very different for me. It’s been a good trade overall, but, by no means, free.

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