Something I've noticed over the past bunch of years is that "How are you?" has become a sort of throw away question. People throw it out there, but not many people really want you to give them an answer. Now I'm not saying this is true of everyone, because I do work with, and know some people who when they ask, do genuinely want to know how you are doing and will stick around long enough for an answer. Overall however, most people don't.
In response to this, "I'm fine, how are you?" has become the standard response. Fine has a pretty big pair of shoes to fill. It covers everything from "I'm doing really great today", to "Things have never been worse but I don't really want to talk about it right now". A few years back, I recognized that I was using 'fine' as a cop-out answer. I didn't want to talk about how I was, because I was having a really rotten year at school. But in order to save my sanity, and to get some help with the situation, I had to start sharing how I was really doing. I had to start giving answers like, "I'm feeling really frustrated and upset right now" or "This situation is really overwhelming me at the moment". Those kinds of answers are completely out of my comfort zone, especially at work, but it enabled the people I work with to help me through that horrible year and together we all pulled through it by the skin of our teeth.
Sharing about job stress, when the rest of the staff is in the know already is one thing. Sharing how you are when your personal life is falling apart is an entirely different ball game. Last year however, I had a co-worker whose daughters are really good friends with my son. They noticed that something was up with him, and were very concerned. So I was able to share with her, in confidence, what was going on with him. Eventually that lead to sharing other things, and it was nice to have someone to talk to. This year she has transferred to another school and I can't tell you how much I miss her. My standard response these past few years has been, "I'm OK", or "I'm doing the best that I can be", when I'm not OK. People seem to respect that answer, and don't push too hard for details, but they sometimes acknowledge for me to hang in there, or say, "Well I hope that everything is going to be OK." I have great co-workers.
Before I get to "good" however, I will have to get to "fine", but not in the throw-away fashion that everyone else uses it for. I will use fine as it's intended to be. According to the online dictionary, fine means in a satisfactory or pleasing manner; very well. Not quite good yet, but better than OK. In the words of one of my favorite quotes, 'I may not be there yet, but I'm closer than I was yesterday.'