That's become one of those standard "throwaway" greetings, often used in place of or in addition to, "Hi."
Last week I was talking with a friend who was telling me about something stressful in her life and when someone walked by and said, "Hi. How are you?" as he walked by, she put on a big smile and said, "Great!"
We then laughed about how you just grin and bear it because people don't really want to know, it's just a part of the greeting. We joked about it. Because, really, have you ever wished you hadn't asked that, when you are really only greeting in passing and someone decides that they're going to tell you everything going on in minute detail. (That happened to me several years ago and I learned my lesson...I try to only ask that question when: 1. I want to know and 2. I have time to truly listen. )
Anyway... a couple of days ago I was talking to the Husband about this "grin and say it's great" phenomenon and he said that in his mind, people should be honest in their answer and that if you ask you should be prepared to listen to people. He thinks it's a shame that so often people pull away from anyone who needs to talk or is having problems.
Fascinating for me to hear from him. You see, I don't think I need more than the fingers on one hand to count the number of times he has gone to a friend with a struggle he's having. He keeps it all inside. No matter what it is, he just doesn't ask for help. He suffers in silence..which considering how much the man talks...is amazing. ;) (Love you honey.:) )
That being said, I know that if he asks how someone is and they do the "grin and 'life's great' " and he thinks they're giving him a line..he will find other ways to let them know he's not buying and he's willing to listen without being intrusive or pushy. I think that is one of his great gifts and one of the ways he acts as God's hands and feet..that and he makes terrific wings and spritz cookies. ;)
Fortunately, we can always turn to a loving and caring God with our worries, struggles and problems. God is always there and God is sincere in His care for us. It's good to know there are people who do want to know and do care to listen, but when we don't have the time or space to open up to them, God is always present. For that I am thankful.