Two men walking up a mountain. One of them is quite far ahead. He stops and waits for the second one. When the second is close the first one asks him “How are you? Everything OK?”
This is a very basic question and it doesn’t seem like a “big deal” but it is all in the intention. I have seen others and also caught myself not once where I ask if someone is OK, if they need help, but on the background the intention is really to highlight the superiority of my position. It’s not easy to hold back on the urge to basically show off. We are in a constant struggle to overcome difficulties, to get “above the water” and be in a position of strength and as soon as we feel more powerful than someone else it is natural to use the opportunity.
I am not talking about being obvious in your actions and “How are you?” can be perfectly normal to everyone around. What I mean is noticing your own intentions. Why should you care? Because these are the moments where you define your character. These moments are an opportunity to work on who you want to be. All the talks, articles and books don’t matter because in that moment you make the decision and you move one step closer in one direction or another.
I’ve mentioned before that the slowest should be first and we can draw from that example in situations where we are about to ask “How are you?”. Instead of thinking “I’m so well off, why not help them”, you can let the slowest be first and use the monolog “I think they are struggling, can I help”. Notice the difference? In the first you focus on yourself, your perceived superiority, in the latter the focus is on the other and a potential aid.
Intentions are seemingly invisible and difficult to talk about. They are not something we argue because it is hard to prove a point, but if one honestly wants to move forward they can start noticing their intentions and changing the internal dialog to grow the character they desire. “How are you?” – is it really about them or is it about you?