What is the most often asked question?  That in itself is an interesting question because there is no real answer, at least a documented one. 

The catch phrase of Matt LeBlanc's Joey on "Friends" was "How you doin?" (YouTube)

However in one form or another I would think the answer to that question is, “how are you?”  Those three words to me make up the most often asked question and one we hear every day and it doesn’t matter where you live or how old you are or anything else.  It will be asked today in Toms River, Tuckerton, Trenton, Tallahassee, Tuscaloosa, Texas and Tokyo.  Of course in some of those places (like Tuscaloosa) they speak a different language but regardless of the translation we know the meaning of the question.

What my warped brain finds interesting is that the answer is basically an automatic response and one that comes with no real thought…and often it’s not the truth.  I would be willing to bet that more often than not the response to “how are you?” is something like “fine, how are you?

That is both an answer and a question and even though we don’t think about it we do it on purpose to sort of throw it back at the other person.  Just like a true politician you basically ignore the question by asking another in the hope that the original question is forgotten by the time somebody answers.

I know this sounds a bit confusing but not only is “how are you?” asked repeatedly during the day but the responses usually come without any thought or reflection.  Let me try and explain this.  If I ask you right now, “how are you?” isn’t it likely you will quickly respond with one of the following:

Great, things could not be better (I hate people who say that). I’m good, thanks for asking.Hanging in there.

I guess things could be worse.Of course there are those who proceed to talk for 2-3 minutes and make you automatically regret even asking the question.  Regardless in my opinion the answer we get is probably not the truth most of the time.  But here is the bottom line and that is we really don’t care because the question “how are you” is not really a question but a greeting.  We would be so much better off just saying “hello” and make the other person ask the question “how are you?”

By the way, I’m lousy…how about you?