FHSU hosts seminar on finding happiness in life after college


Last Tuesday, Jessica Albin, CASE manager at the Kelly Center, and FHSU Alum Ann Pfeifer gave a presentation via Zoom on Life After College. Albin opened the presentation by defining exactly what true health is: a harmony between physical, social, and mental health.

She provided multiple ways to improve and maintain physical health, such as choosing nutritious foods, staying hydrated, and, most importantly, keeping a consistent sleeping schedule. 

“During and after college, our discipline around our physical health tends to take a back seat in our lives,” Albin said. 

She suggested that we should make healthy decisions not because we have to, but because we love our bodies and want what is best for them. Sleep, she asserted, is by far the most important part of a person’s physical health. It allows the brain to remember, forget, and wash our brains of emotions gathered throughout the day. 

Regardless of what you might hear, it has consistently been proven that 7-9 hours per day is a healthy amount of sleep for the average person. By doing these things, one can achieve optimum physical health.

Social health, the ability of one to interact and form meaningful relationships with others, is the second of the three pillars of overall health. Albin put an emphasis on always being yourself, regardless of the situation. She suggested that in order to achieve full social health, one should become engaged with the local community, value diversity, and respect the opinions of others. 

She stressed the importance of giving yourself time to become more social, to be proactive, yet have realistic expectations about what to expect from your social life. 

“Don’t have a goal to make 10 new friends in a short period of time,” Albin said, “but ask yourself, ‘Is this an expectation I would give a friend?’”

Additionally, Albin suggested that we monitor your social media use. Are you really happier after checking it? Don’t let a social media post affect your social health.

Albin also gave some tips on conflict resolution. She maintained that conflict is an opportunity to find a better understanding and achieve common ground. Any easy tip for achieving conflict resolution is to ensure that the other party feels heard. Oftentimes, a person isn’t entirely concerned with persuading you, but rather, just wants to feel that you’re listening to them.

Mental health, the third and final pillar of overall health, is really a fight to let go of the control you think you have in life. Albin proposed a circle of influence composed of a small inner circle, the circle of control, a slightly large circle around it, the circle of influence, and a vastly larger circle surrounding both of them, the circle of concern. She stressed the importance of “radical acceptance,” or accepting the parts of life that are beyond your control.

Albin expressed the importance of work/life harmony, rather than a work/life balance. 

“The two should be deeply integrated, a circle. Not a balance,” she said. “Be willing to say ‘that won’t work for me’ in order to achieve this harmony.” She also made an interesting departure from the mainstream ideas on happiness. 

According to Albin, you should find your purpose, not your passion. It is through this purpose that you find hard work, resilience, and, eventually, passion. By doing this, you align yourself with your deepest values, which you can fall back on when all else fails.

FHSU Alum and former Ellis County Treasurer, Ann Pfeifer, was then introduced to give her portion of the presentation. Pfeifer, a graduate of Fort Hays’ Class of 2007, began by giving a few tips for landing a job. 

“Dress one level higher than the job you’re applying for,” she said.

She stressed that one should be willing to take a job to gain experience for the job you really want. Most jobs require prior experience, and being willing to obtain that experience is an important part of getting your dream job. “Always keep your eyes open for opportunities”, Pfeifer said, “but be sure to look after your own self-interest, no one else will. By pushing yourself toward your goals, you allow yourself to grow out of your comfort zone.” However, life doesn’t always go according to plan, but being resilient and trying again is what’s important.

What we deem important in our lives is ever-changing and evolves with time. Being aware of those changes, welcoming them, and accepting them allows us to live in the present, not the past. Some changes, challenges, and disappointments are blessings that we just haven’t realized yet.

While these changes can mostly be dealt with personally, it is important to realize that therapy is always an option. 

“We are all a work in progress,” Pfeifer said, “and we all can benefit from therapy if we are willing and ready for change.” 

She also reminded the audience of the importance of finding a therapist that you are comfortable with in order to maximize the benefit of the session.

“You are enough. Don’t let your past dictate your future.”

Students can contact the Kelly Center for additional information and help at 785-628-4401. Additional reading materials and sources regarding this topic are available at the campus library.

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