Pretty simple question, isn't it? Often, you hear it more than a handful of times every day...some people care what your answer is, while others just ask it out of habit, as something that naturally follows the word "hi."
All the standard answers can be applied here:
My usual response, I guess, is, "Pretty good, how are you?" But I have to credit the movie, "Rounders," with giving me my favorite response to that question.
A little tangent, or this will be by far my shortest entry of the month.
The first time I rented "Rounders," I watched it three times. As soon as I finished watching it the first time, I sat through it a second time, and then several hours later, before I returned it...I watched it again.
Matt Damon and Edward Norton were so good in that movie. Could be because I was hooked on the plot (the seedy underworld of poker), but the cast of characters was phenomenal. John Turturro, John Malkovich, Martin Landau. If you haven't seen it, go get it. Or let me know, and I'll lend you my copy. It's not quite worn out...yet.
Near the end of the movie, Matt Damon's character, Mike McDermott, was talking to his ex-girlfriend, Jo, played by Gretchen Mol...whom he hadn't seen for a while. He'd been through a particularly rough couple days, and they had the following exchange:
Jo: "Are you OK?"
Mike: "Yeah...I'm OK. You?"
Jo: ".........I'm, how I am."
I realize that I borrowed that answer and applied it to a slight variation of the question, but it fits there, too. And "how are you" is a bit more common than "are you OK".
The tone of that response just...works for me, I guess. Love it.
How are you?
"If you play bridge badly
you make your partner suffer,
but if you play poker badly
you make everybody happy."
—Joe Laurie Jr.