50 Happy Little Things Bob Ross Taught Me About The Joy Of Being Alive

I’ve spent the last few months watching two episodes of Bob Ross‘ iconic PBS series, The Joy of Painting, every day. Once in the morning with my coffee, and once in the evening with a cup of chamomile tea before I settle in to read and go to sleep. I’m practicing being present. I’m practicing relaxing. I’m practicing focusing on what’s right in front of me and experiencing the fullness of it. (I’m practicing not letting my depression and ADHD control my life.) Bob Ross makes me feel like everything is going to be more than okay, with his soothing voice and his gentle wisdom and the hypnotizing sounds of his paint brushes and knives on canvas. (I always watch with headphones to get the full effect of the brush sounds.)

A few weeks ago, my girlfriend woke up in the middle of the night when I was battling insomnia by watching Bob Ross. I was crying. She said, “Baby, why are you crying!?” I said, “Because Bob Ross thinks I can move mountains! Bob Ross thinks I can do anything!”

Here are 50 happy little things Bob Ross has said to me lately that make me so happy to be alive.


“It’s amazing what you can do with a little love in your heart.”


“You have unlimited power.”


“God gave you this gift of imagination. Use it.”


“When you do it your way, you can go anywhere you choose.”




“The least little bit can do so much.”


“Gotta give him a friend. Like I always say: everyone needs a friend.”


“You can create beautiful things, but you have to see them in your mind first.”


“Any time you learn, you gain.”




“Any way you want it to be, that’s just right.”


“Don’t forget to make all these little things individuals, all of them special in their own way.”


“Didn’t you know you had that much power? You can move mountains. You can do anything.”


“With something so strong, a little bit can go a long way.”




“Just scrape in a few indications of sticks and twigs and other little things in there. People will think you spend hours doing this.”


“If you don’t like it, change it. It’s your world.”


“Think about a cloud. Just float around and be there.”


“Maybe in our world there lives a happy little tree over there.”




“Sometimes you learn more from your mistakes than you do from your masterpieces.”


“You have to put some dark color in so your light color will show.”


“People look at me like I’m a little strange, when I go around talking to squirrels and rabbits and stuff. That’s okay. That’s just okay.”


“Only think about one thing at a time. Don’t get greedy.”




“If you do too much it’s going to lose its effectiveness.”


“You can do anything your heart can imagine.”


“You’re meant to have fun in life.”


“There’s nothing wrong with having a tree as a friend.”




“We don’t make mistakes; we just have happy accidents.”


“It’s a super day, so why not make a beautiful sky?”


“We’re gonna make some big decisions in our little world.”


“Just let go, and fall like a little waterfall.”




“Be careful. You can always add more, but you can’t take it away.”


“Be so very light. Be a gentle whisper.”


“Just go straight in like you’re going to stab it — and barely touch it. Barely touch it.”


“Don’t forget to tell these special people in your life just how special they are to you.”




“Take your time. Speed will come later.”


“You’re the greatest thing that has ever been or ever will be. You’re special. You’re so very special.”


“Just think about these things in your mind; then, bring them into your world.”


“That’s what makes life fun. That you can make these decisions. That you can create the world that you want.”




“Whatever makes you happy, you put in your world.”


“Trees don’t grow even; they don’t grow straight — just however it makes them happy.”


“Talent is a pursued interest. That is to say, anything you practice you can do.”


“Let all these little things happen. Don’t fight them. Learn to use them.”



You can stream so many full episodes of The Joy of Painting on Bob Ross’ official YouTube channel. And, of course, don’t forget this remix.

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Heather Hogan

Heather Hogan is an Autostraddle senior editor who lives in New York City with her wife, Stacy, and their cackle of rescued pets. She's a member of the Television Critics Association, GALECA: The Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics, and a Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer critic. You can also find her on Twitter and Instagram.

Heather has written 1718 articles for us.


  1. Oh man, I used to be all about Bob Ross. Me and my brother and Mom would watch it every Saturday morning and get super stoked. I really liked when he cleaned the brushes by flipping them back and forth on the metal bar on his easel.

    I should write some of these down. I really like “If you don’t like it, change it. It’s your world.” :)

  2. I watch him to relax too! He was a wonderful person and his videos are a gift. He’s similar to Mr Rogers in how affirming and positive he was.

  3. You know that moment in You’ve Got Mail when Meg Ryan is like “I wanted it to be you. I wanted it to be you so badly.” and then they make the dog uncomfortable?

    That’s how I felt about this piece being by you, Heather.

      • Arguably the best non-Oz use of “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” of all time as well. A+, would cry again.

  4. Bob Ross as meditation! I am so excited about this! I used to do the same thing with clips of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. I can’t wait to try.

  5. Thank you thank you thank you! I have such fond childhood memories of watching Bob Ross when I stayed home sick from school. His quiet strength and eternal optimism was such an inspiration to me – plus maybe that’s where my crazy obsession with clouds started? Anyway, it’s so nice to have a reminder of his wisdom today.

  6. This is just so perfect.
    I didn’t know I needed this, and now I’m crying on my lunch break but it’s totally okay.
    All the hearts for you, Heather Hogan.

  7. Too much wisdom in one post. So, it’s going to be- one quote per week ,and am good to go for about a year. Thank you Heather for being so thoughtful and wonderful to share this with us.

  8. This post really brightened my morning. (Err, afternoon!) I agree with everyone’s comparison of Ross with Rogers. This is just so gentle and powerful and positive, I wanna try to be like that everyday. Incorporating this love with painting is super fantastic to me, cuz I love painting! Ross makes it look so easy, but painting is definitely fun for every person, regardless of skill level.

    “That is when you can experience true joy, when you have no fear” is such a helpful quote for me, personally. That’s exactly what’s getting me down lately — fear. Thank you for this beautiful post, Heather.

    • I feel your comment so hard. Fear is holding me back so, so much, and im still trying to figure out how to move through it.

      And ditto on wishing you could be like Bob Ross / Mr. Rogers. Being that kind and calm and positive is next level stuff. Strength.

  9. “People look at me like I’m a little strange, when I go around talking to squirrels and rabbits and stuff. That’s okay. That’s just okay.”

    I thought this ^^^ was just me.

    One a serious note, these are so great and totally made my day. I feel like I can take anything that life throws at me now.

  10. Thank you for this! I always loved Bob Ross so much. When I was a kid, I actually did talk to trees and think of them as my friends, which branded me as a weird kid at school, but Bob Ross told me I was just fine.

  11. Happy little trees!

    So HH must have an interesting prescription: take two episodes daily, or as needed.

  12. Bob Ross has always been a hero of mine. I really hold his brand of optimism dear. Plz write another one about Mr. Rogers.

  13. Bookmarking this for gloomy days, for a reminder that life is okay and the world is beautiful.
    I’ve never been so happy to call myself a tree hugger.

  14. The magic of Bob Ross is so potent, coffee and chocolate only vaguely, vaguely make his paintings sparkle more. Also I wish there were more unicorns in his work, but we can’t all be amazing at landscapes, kindness, patience, and mythical creatures.

  15. This is fantastic. Watching Bob Ross in the morning and the evening sounds so calming. I’ll have to try it!

  16. Oh my god, this is BEautiful. It gives and gives. Thank you. I’m sure you’ve already tried an I’ve mentioned it on here before it but lavender oil on your pillow helps with the sleeping.

  17. I have only managed to see Bob Ross on the teevee once…one morning super super early about 8 years ago. England doesn’t appreciate his wisdom enough obviously. And yeah he was just magical. I will be heading to YouTube for this wonder.
    Also I once met a chill old guy at a boarding school I was on summer camp at, he worked there as something like a caretaker but not quite, and he told me “we don’t have problems, we have moments of unusual interest” and it really stuck with me. I say it a lot.

  18. I love Bob Ross. Grew up watching his show all the time and even attended a few Bob Ross style painting classes as a young teenager. The instructor didn’t have quite the zen appeal of Bob, but he did dress exactly like Al Borland from Home Improvement so that was amazing.

    • I also took a Bob Ross painting class when I was in high school, but the instructor was quite disappointing. She made it seem like there was a right way and a wrong way, which is not the Bob Ross style. Still, one of the paintings I made turned out quite nicely and I have it hanging in my home.

      Heather, thank you for sharing some of your experiences dealing with depression. My wife has depression and these days self medicates by gaming. Sometimes I can see it as helpful for coping, but other times all of her escapism leaves me feeling lonely. The Bob Ross quotes are nice reminders to be kind to myself.

  19. Bob Ross was really my first therapist before I even knew I needed one. I really miss old school PBS–Saturday afternoons, post sesame street, pre nova…that was some good public television.

  20. Thanks for posting this. I’m also practicing being present and practicing not letting my PTSD control my life, and it’s nice to read about other people’s journeys.

  21. Bob Ross raised a squirrel named Peapod. Look it up..cutest thing ever!

    He also did The Joy of Painting for free. He made money by selling art supplies, but did the show for free. I thought that was cool.

  22. What a lovely set of inspirations. 10x better than most of those “inspirational quotes” notebooks out there. :)

    Thanks for sharing, Heather!

  23. Bob Ross is amazing and one of the few things my dad and I bond over nowadays, so it holds an extra special place in my heart.

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