Don’t Be Afraid to Ask “How You Doin’?”

Recently, the loveable Muppet character, Elmo posted a kind-hearted check-in this week on X (formerly known as Twitter). Unfortunately, with the thousands of replies and a few interventions from his “Sesame Street” pals later, it’s pretty clear that some people are not doing well. As CNN Health writer AJ Willingham posted here, the world is experiencing a grinding war in Ukraine. There is a potential famine in Gaza and a seemingly endless drumbeat of mass shootings in the US. Many young Americans are struggling with anxiety and depression as the country faces a well-documented mental health crisis. And in many places are in the middle of a cold, dark winter.

So many people are not doing very well. But that shouldn’t keep us from asking. 

The men’s group at our church occasionally does something called a “Guy Talk” which is a casual conversation about random topics. We’ve covered how we use technology to manage our lives. We discussed being the sandwich generation. I even surprised the guys with an unexpected session on the effects of pornography.

One such Guy Talk was titled, “How you doin’?” based on the frequently used phrase by Joey Tribbiani, portrayed by Matt LeBlanc on the TV sitcom Friends. I used this video clip from the show to lead us into a discussion about why and how we should be checking in on friends often by asking the next level question, “How are you REALLY doing?” Too often, someone uses this phrase (here in Chicago, it’s a greeting in an Italian dialect like Joey) done in passing, elicits a response like “Oh, OK”.   

But does that type of response cause you to pause and show concern?  

Good and mature men know that the answer may reveal some distress in someone’s life. A response could range from neutral to pessimistic such as “Not bad”, “So-so, I guess”, “So far, so good”, “Not bad under the circumstance.”, or “Terrible!”. Or it could sound optimistic like “Pretty good” or “Fantastic!”. Personal development coach, Zig Ziglar has been answering the “How are you?” question with something like, “Why, I’m doing better than good!” Dave Ramsey, the financial guy, responds with “I’m better than I deserve.” Both are humble responses to show how grateful for how they are doing.

The Bible encourages us to “spur one another on toward love and good deeds … ” (Hebrews 10:24–25 ). The writer of Hebrews tells his brothers and sisters to be intentional and consider how to prompt one another to the practical living out of their faith. There are several more verses related to caring for each other. And having deeper, more authentic friends – what I call GodBuddies, shows you care.

So take the time to encourage and support each other. This may simply suggest you take a few extra minutes to ask, “How are you REALLY doing?”. Or you can schedule a time later to chat over coffee if you are late for a meeting. It may also mean taking a few seconds to pray with your friend. Taking the time to care shows you care. Caring is another of the marks of good and godly men.

Wisdom for Men is my opinion on topics that help men become better. The sources used are not fact-checked but support my theory that men are better with deeper, more authentic friendships. This GodBuddy theory is based on biblical principles but applies to all men, regardless of their beliefs. Better friendships can help solve the crisis of male friendship…and the world needs better men. It needs more men who desire to be more like Jesus, our ultimate role model.

[Feature Image X/@elmo. Source: CNN Health article by AJ Willingham]


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