Reality Check: The Helping Professions

Many people have a genuine wish to be helpful; that is, to take actions that are of service to others.
Wanting to help is a fine aspiration. To be of service benefits both the helper and those who are helped. It gives purpose to the helper and it provides value to the helpee.
On top of those individual benefits, a helpfulness mindset makes everyone’s interactions more pleasant. If you’re a big picture thinker, you might even see it as making the whole world a nicer place.
When you think about the helping professions, what comes to mind? Perhaps it’s people who care for the sick, the elderly, the young, the vulnerable. Perhaps you know a helpful social worker, teacher, pastor, home care worker, and so on.
These careers all focus on service of some kind.
However, all kinds of other careers are “helping professions,” even though that may not be the descriptor that springs to mind when you think of them.
For example, the industrial engineer who designed a more efficient emergency room process and thus improved quality of care is very helpful for someone in a medical emergency.
The mechanical technologist who designs a prosthetic hand provides a very helpful service for a person in need of that device.
The HVAC tech who installed your heat pump is helpful. As is the carpenter who repaired your roof; the mechanic who fixed your car, not to mention the tech who brought your computer back to life.
And possibly most helpful of all is the plumber who fixes your non-functional waste disposal system when you are in need of that service!
Helpfulness is not limited to services. We are fortunate to have many helpful products available to us. All of those products come from somewhere—from the minds and skills of the helpful people who make them.
Think of the lumber and steel used to construct our homes, hospitals, and other buildings. Consider the batteries that fuel our many devices, and the tires that enable us to travel to work, school, or play. All of these helpful products are manufactured by people.
So, what is a “helping profession?” Help comes in many forms. While it’s wonderful to have empathetic counselors or gentle nurses to help when you need them; helping professions aren’t limited to those types of services. In fact, folks in helping professions may not seem to care about your feelings at all. However, if you’ve ever been sitting in the dark till that electrician got your lights working again, you know that you’ve been helped.
The information to which we expose ourselves can influence our perspectives. One information source that I choose to monitor gives me reminders about various advances in human progress over the years.
When I get frustrated with having to wait an extra two minutes for my computer to update before I can look at my messages from all around the world, it’s helpful to remember this—humans didn’t always have ready access to instant communication, speedy transportation, air conditioning, vaccinations, or even out-of-season food products.
In the big scheme of human progress, it wasn’t all that many years ago that folks were driving the horse and buggy to town, sending a postcard to get a message to the big city, and dining on turnips and pickled beans throughout the long winters.
Helping professions make progress possible.
My perception is that women in particular are drawn to some professions because of a deep wish to help people. I encourage helpfulness for everyone. However, there are many, many ways to be helpful.

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