The joy of "Hello world!"

A "hello world" program is the simplest thing you can do with a programming language. It does one thing: displays the words "hello world". "Hello world" is traditionally used as a first introduction to any programming language. When you start learning a new language the first thing you will do is write a "hello world" program.

Printing the words "hello world" signals a new beginning, a new tool to be used, a new skill to be learned. When you see your program print these words you immediately feel empowered, you feel in control.
You may not know everything yet, but you feel you are at the brink of something new, something great. Using your new tool you bent the machine to your will and made it obey your commands.
It's such a little gesture, but it triggers a powerful feeling of joy and excitement.

In a recent project of mine I will have to work with a thermal printer (the kind they use in restaurants to print your bill). I brought home a thermal printer and spent an hour figuring out how to make it print.
When I managed to print "Hello world!", I suddenly felt like I was back in the basement with my high school friend writing my first ever "hello world".

I spent the next 20 minutes just printing different words and sentences and being excited. It was magical. Even though I've written an insane amount of code and have built complex apps before, a simple "hello world" greatly excited me. It turns out what you know doesn't matter, starting something new and getting your first tiny result always makes you feel good.

As Danielle LaPorte puts it:

Instant gratification has gotten a bad rap. (...) Gratification builds the momentum, motivation, and muscle for the work that will require patience and stamina.

Taking that small first step and instantly seeing the result can go a long way in preparing you for the work ahead.

As life gets rushed don't forget to enjoy your "hello world" moments. Start something new. Get your first result. Don't be afraid to feel proud. Repeat as needed.

In the end it's the small joys that matter anyway. tweet

I have a tiny newsletter you could subscribe to.

I am also on twitter, see you there.