Say What You Mean Mean What You Say
I was watching the season premier of Curb Your Enthusiasm and Larry David in his typically brilliant way made a wonderful point. He was visiting a friend who was bemoaning the illness of a relative. David had the typical knee jerk reaction. he said the expected and politically correct thing, “I’m sorry to hear it. If there is anything I can do let me know.” Well it turned out his friend was able to think of something he could do and off we went into a comedy of errors.
David bemoaned the breach of social etiquette. After all his statement was meant to be an “empty” gesture. His offer of help was never intended to be taken seriously let alone be taken up. Imagine if every time you asked some one how they were they actually told you the truth. I mean how often have you wished you could tell some one how you were really doing? It may seem insignificant but it is like any sloppy habit. Ask often enough “how” some one is, answer “fine” when you really aren’t and eventually you become numb to being true to yourself. Next thing you know you are cooperating with a “don’t ask” don’t tell policy. You start overlooking the social indiscretions of others because it is easier than rocking the boat. You know, things like standing silent when someone mindlessly throws some trash on the sidewalk, is being obnoxiously loud on a cell phone on the bus, or is taking up an empty seat with their coat at the movies when the only other seats are in the front row.
The thing is all those little niceties and avoidances take their toll, in the form of road rage when some one cuts you off, when you push the close button on the elevator rather than waiting a minute until the little old lady makes her way down the hall or worse, when you bark at your four year old who just wants five minutes of your time to show you their latest finger painting.
So here’s a little experiment. Commit yourself to a day of integrity. If you don’t really care how some one is don’t ask. If you don’t want to be available to “do anything “someone needs, don’t offer. If you are having a shitty day, say so when some asks “how you are.” The key is in being indifferent to people’s response. It doesn’t matter how peopel respond. You do not have to live in their skin. What is important is that you are being true to yourself. Yhat is the skin you are in. I submit that by day’s end, you’ll feel lighter and more at peace with yourslf by being truthful even in the little things .