How To Be Optimistic

Written By John Sonmez

There is a pretty good chance I screwed up today.

There is a pretty good chance that this blog article will flop.

Maybe, you'll come here to my blog, expecting to be enlightened, but instead find a bunch of worthless drivel that wasn't worth the time it took you to read.

But, guess what? I don't care.

It's not that I don't care whether or not I am producing good work–I am trying my best.

It's not that I don't care whether or not the content I am creating is valuable–I sincerely hope it is.

It's not even that I don't care, because it's not a big deal–my blog is one of the main ways I make money, so it is sort of a big deal.

I don't care, because I have learned to not take myself so seriously. I have learned that what I am doing is just not so important, and that every little failure or success does not determine the fate of the world.

Sure, I'd like to have success, but failure–although not preferable–is OK as well.

It's time to chill out

Seriously. It is.


If you are reading this blog post, you are probably a software developer. Now, it might be that you are working on a very important piece of a software system that will save lives or completely change the world but chances are, you are not.

Even if you are, your part in that software is probably relatively small and not all that important.

I'm not saying this to belittle you. I know that most of us like to think about how important we are. Instead, I'm saying this in the hope that you'll realize that in the grand scheme of things, most of what we do doesn't really matter.

Why is this so important to me?

Why do I even care about delivering this message?

Because, a large number of atrocities and dumb mistakes are committed by people who have the tendency to take themselves too seriously.

But, what does it mean to take yourself too seriously?

It means that you care so much about your own opinions and the image that you are portraying that you force a sense of importance on too much of yourself and on other people as well.

So what if someone is wrong about test driven development.

So what if people are using IoC containers incorrectly.

So what if you just messed up and said something embarrassingly wrong.

So what if you did something that makes you look like an idiot.

I mean, is it really that important? Is whatever you are caught up in and upset about really worth stressing about? Is it really worth hurting someone else's feelings and causing a ruckus?

(If you still think so, do everyone around you a favor and read this book please.)

Most of the time it isn't, but we tend to think it is–myself included, I can't escape judgement. I take myself too seriously from time-to-time.

Most of the time, though, I find that whatever has me so upset, whatever has me feeling agitated or frustrated with the world, really isn't that nearly as important as I imagined it to be.

You only have so much mental and emotional energy in a day

batteries with different charge levels

Why waste it on being upset about things that don't matter.

I'm just about to shut off Facebook permanently, because it is disturbing to see so many people arguing about ridiculous news articles and political agendas that don't really matter.

Sure, it is important whether or not guns are banned or not in America, but most of the people complaining one direction or the other are not going to do anything about it. They are just wasting useful emotional and mental energy arguing on Facebook and they are mentally and emotionally draining other people as well–not to mention losing friends and burning bridges.

I see it all the time in workplaces as well. I've been guilty of it plenty of times; fighting for the 98% effective solution when the 96% effective one will do.

It is easy to get sucked into the trap. It's easy to start to think that our opinions are just so gosh darn important. It is easy to start to believe that what we are doing and how people perceive us is a matter of national security.

But, the truth is, it is exhausting to do so.

When you wake up in the morning, you've only got so much patience. You only have so much focus. You can choose to spend that energy fretting over little things that aren't really important, or you can put it to work actually achieving something–making someone's day better rather than tearing them down. It is up to you.

It might sound like I'm upset about this topic

But I'm not. I'm just writing a blog post and this is what came to mind.

Sure, I'd like you to agree with what I am saying. Sure, I think I'm right, but perhaps I'm not. Perhaps the name of that variable really is that important. Perhaps it is worth getting in a shouting match over whether or not we should deploy troops in Iraq.

The point is, it doesn't matter.

I've decided to stop taking myself so seriously.

I've decided to stop caring so much about what other people think.

I've decided to stop wasting so much of my time in petty squabbles.

I've decided to stop wasting so much of my energy on things that don't really matter.

I've decided to instead just do the best I can, realize that other people are probably doing the same–as optimistic as that view may be–and live and let live.

Life is too short to not be optimistic.

I'm a software developer on a quest to make the complex simple. I help other developers live better lives and become the best version of themselves possible through my blog posts, courses, videos, podcasts and emails.

Join me on my quest here.