“How are you?”
“How’s it going?”
Things I hear often from people, particularly as a greeting, or in passing. I even noticed myself doing it a lot, but probably most noticed it though when I was going through a (somewhat) depressive period in my life - it would be the first thing people would say to me as I walked into a room/studio, and I’d give an automatic reply of “Ok/Good thanks”. But in all honesty I wasn’t. And I think even more honestly, it was relatively obvious.
But what I realised is that it’s something we tend to say without really meaning it - it’s a pleasantry. We often don’t really want to know the answer, but are just saying it out of the social norm of politeness. I’m now consciously making the effort to stop doing this.
When/if I ask people how they are it’s because I genuinely want to know. Sometimes I get back the “mmm, ok”, and I call them on it - “doesn’t sound like you’re so sure”. I think we’ve become somewhat socially conditioned not to share how we’re feeling, but it’s ok not to feel ok, and ok to share that with someone. (Though yes, equally ok to not want to talk too.)
I think something similar can also be said about physical greetings - you can still hug someone even as a pleasantry, or you can genuinely hug someone and create a meaningful connection where that person feels embraced and valued. I’m endeavouring these days to have more genuine connections, whether that’s a hug, or asking someone how they are.