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Joy in Serving

Joy Series: Part 1 – Joy in Serving Others

At Piazza the theme for 2024 is JOY! And I think we can all admit that after the last few years, this is a much needed focus. While we spend the next several months exploring the many facets of JOY, what better way than to start with applying JOY to what we spend a great deal of our day doing – working.

Now wait, before you click away stick with me for a second. I’m serious. Like it or not, most of us have to work to pay our bills. While that may not be a choice, the way we approach our work, in fact, is. So for the first in our JOY series we are going to explore the idea of JOY in serving.

Education is Service

Did you know working in education makes you part of the service industry? Educational services is arguably our most vaulable service seeing as it feeds into all others. We are part of a service field that generates more than 10% of our economy’s GDP. The only one to top education is the health services field. All this being said, we are a vital part of serving. And not just serving the children in our care, or the parents of the children in our care, but the communities of the children in our care, and subsequently the infrastructure of of the communities of the children who are in our care. I think you get my point. If we are going to serve others, we might as well do it – well.

Psychological Benefits of Finding Joy in SERving

The psychological benefits of serving others is well researched and here’s the summary: it’s really good for you. But after years and years of extensive research into the benefits of serving there’s a significant catch, you have to want to be in the service of others for it to be beneficial for you. Now, to be fully transparent most of the studies largely focus on volunteerism and altruism and how they affect parts of the human brain in such a powerful and positive way that the benefits are long lasting. But working isn’t volunteering and in most cases, comprised of very little altruistic intention. So here is what I am proposing – that we change the narrative a little. That we fuse the benefits of serving others with our everyday tasks (i.e. with our work). The way we do that requires a little mindset shift.

Serving Others Triggers Empathy

One of the most powerful reasons serving others benefits us is because it triggers the parts of our brain related to empathy and feeling connected to others. This dynamic exchange is vital for humans to thrive in communities. When we are working we don’t typically experience this same feeling because our intentions are more strongly tied to fufilling what we need (e.g. our paycheck because rent is due).

Be Intentional about Connectivity

A simple way to connect your work to your inner drive toward human connectedness is to find small ways each day to pause and look at intentionally at another person in your workspace whether this be a child, a co-teacher, or a parent. Not in a creepy, uncomfortable way, but a quick moment to remember that each interaction isn’t just to get to the end of the day, but an opportunity to see the artistic talent of the person who works with you, or the unique humor of the child who is playing on the carpet, or the deep love shown by the parent who expresses a concern. We won’t be able to do this with each moment of each day, but we can try to make more of these moments intentional. The outcome will likely be a boost in your own JOY while you faithfully report to work each day and serve others. It’s hard to imagine the negative in that.

find joy in serving


Being intentional and learning to see your work as service are keys to finding the joy in what you do.  Be sure to come back soon for the continuation of this Piazza Series on Joy!

Contributing Expert Author

Samantha Reeves, M.A.

Samantha has over 25 years of experience in the field of child development. She has worked in all manner of professions as they relate to children including beginning her career as a floater teacher with 3 units, to a multisite center
regional director, and most recently, a professor in the Child and Adolescent Studies department at CSUF.

Samantha earned her B.S. at Cal State Fullerton in the same department she would later instruct in. She has a M.A. in Clinical Psychology from Pepperdine University where she focused her research on attachment theory and attachment related disorders.

Samantha lives in Anaheim Hills with her husband and 4 children. She recently made the decision to put her teaching career on pause to stay home with her kids, but plans to return to the classroom in some format in the future.

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