Right from our childhood, our society teaches us to meet and greet with a one-size-fits-all type of greeting, “How are you?” and we get a superficial answer “I am fine” or “I am good.” Rarely do we know if the responders are okay or not.  In that case, how can we make sure if everyone is well from the inside out? What steps can we take to elicit an honest response, thereby reflecting our true, wholesome nature?

Until pathway through high school, parents feel proud to enroll their kids in multiple activities such as music, sports, martial arts, Ukulele and whatnot. Some parents enroll their kids mainly to brag them to other parents at pickup or passing. However, hardly any of these activities are continued past their adult life. A very few take them at a professional level. This competitive attitude puts tremendous pressure on the kids, and over time, they are mentally overwhelmed and unable to keep up with this rat race. Some break down under pressure, while others succeed irrespective of pressure, and some give up totally.

The call of the hour is for the school to not reinforce too many extracurricular activities for brownie points. Instead, use coping mechanisms such as mindfulness, meditation, or art therapy as mandatory activities for school children. With the fluidity of emotions and mindfulness, the kids can get the tenacity to balance heavy mental workload and undertake multiple tasks at school and later at college as well.

During college years, many students are still under a tremendous burden to succeed academically to get a better job. Unlike schools, colleges are not mandated to provide mental health programs or services. Most of the rehabilitation programs are initiated after campus crises have occurred. Such a crisis can be avoided if a mandatory health check program is in place for all students. Such incentive will help them seek professional counseling if needed, which can later help them in life.

After graduating from college, you would think the rate-race has ended. But no! Again, in work-life, there is a different kind of pressure to succeed financially. Also, socially, we are conditioned to get married and one day become parents, and again, the cycle continues. In that case, even more mindfulness is needed to balance your career and home front as well. Although many companies offer free yearly full-body health checks to all employees, mental health checks are optional. We are encouraged to seek professional mental health counseling, but not many seek help from professionals as all want to keep the façade of the “all is well” outlook. There is also a fear of losing the job or getting the pink slip if we do not pass a mental health check.

So, it is important to make the mental health assessment mandatory to all the employees in such a way that employees feel secure with their job and, at the same time, can get an assessment to keep them emotionally in check. Moreover, depending on the assessment, the employees can get the required help in time and significantly reduce the crisis. Since we spend most of the time at the workplace, the companies can also supplement benefits with yoga or spa therapy. Additionally, it would be nice to have compulsory quarterly team outings to help bond with the employees outside of the workplace.

For any skill to master, a general rule of thumb is 10,000 hours, as quoted by Malcolm Gladwell in his book “Outlier.” Assuming you start mindfulness or meditation in your growing years during middle school, you would have sustained a healthy habit to always be mindful by the time you are in your late twenties. This practice will also eliminate unwanted habits or emotions and strengthen you to overcome your problems or obstacles better. Also, study shows that regular meditation practice generates serotonin and when present in large amounts, it gives us joy, calmness, and more peace as well.

And finally, when someone asks you, “How are you?” we can reply with confidence, “I am fine.” Not broken outside, but beautiful inside, and not incomplete but wholesome being.

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