5 Things I Have Learned About Life From Bob Ross

Posted By on Jan 18, 2013 | 6 comments

Most of you probably know about the television show The Joy of Painting and its eccentric host, Bob Ross.  Hard to miss the middle-aged white guy with a huge afro of fuzzy hair, and button-up shirt with the top buttons undone.  I have to be sure to shut off my computer and put my phone away because once Bob starts talking, I’m completely mesmerized.  I will sit there and, literally, stare at the screen with my mouth open while he talks and moves his brush across the canvas.  It’s one of those odd things in life that gives you body chills over and over again.  At least it does me.

Bob is a master at utilizing simple techniques that anyone can use to create beautiful works of art.  Whenever he starts out with a new project, I find myself thinking that he’s messed it up or that what he’s done up until that point doesn’t look like anything.  In the end, Bob’s paintings always come out amazing.

I have learned a lot from Bob Ross through the years.  Most of it has nothing to do with painting.  In fact, I’ve never attempted to create a painting the way he teaches.  But there are a lot of lessons about life that can be taken from his show.  Here are five of them that I try to employ every single day.  Maybe they’ll help you along the way too.

1.  There are no mistakes, only happy accidents-

Bob Ross talks about how there are no mistakes, only happy accidents.  He says that you can do something incorrectly on the canvas, but with a few strokes, make the correction.  This method of reframing events or occurrences in your life is vital.  I speak with people all the time who are dealing with regrets.  When you fill your heart with sadness and regret, you will soon find yourself surrounded by more negative experiences.  It can be difficult to take something you have done wrong and turn it into a positive.  But it can be done.  Look at it as a learning experience, and a path that will lead you to something better.  I’ve had to do that several times in my life.  Learn appreciate the tough moments, because they will lead to happier times and make you a wiser person.

2.  You can do it-

Bob gets fired up when he talks about this.  He is convinced that every single person on the planet can be an artist.  Actually, he’s right.  And not just about painting.  You can be the artist of your life and create whatever you dream of.  He says you just have to believe in yourself and give it all you’ve got, and the rest takes care of itself.  Whatever you want out of life, you can do it.  Bob Ross believes that.  And so do I.

3.  It’s your world-

Number 2 plays right into this one.  While dotting his canvas with happy little trees and happy clouds, Bob constantly tells the audience they don’t have to try to mimic every little thing he is doing.  He says that it’s your world and you do with it what you want.  Your life is the same way.  We create the world around us with our thoughts, feelings, actions, and interactions with others.  What do you want your world to look like?  You can make it whatever you want it to be.

4.  Bravery test-

Towards the end of every episode, Bob’s painting looks terrific.  And every single time, I’m thinking he’s done and the show is over.  Oh, no.  He’s got to do the bravery test.  He takes his paintbrush and draws a huge line right in the middle of the beautiful artwork he’s created.  Each time he does it, I’m thinking he’s ruined the painting.  But what Bob Ross knew was that to do something amazing, we have to do something uncomfortable.  We have to push the bounds of our norms and what feels safe.  It can be difficult to do this.  On the inside, our minds fights against these things.  You have to fight back and paint that big tree trunk in the middle of the canvas.  From it can come something more beautiful, and provide more depth to the painting of your life.

5.  Lets have some fun-

Seems simple enough.  But people forget to do this all the time.  When Bob is painting it appears effortless.  That’s because he’s enjoying the process.  He “beats the devil” out of his brushes, creates happy rocks, and makes little noises with his mouth as he paints his scenes.  If you aren’t enjoying the journey, then the final product isn’t worth the time.  I try to remember this whenever I’m writing new books.  Just have fun with it!

While Bob has been dead for many years, his influence and his legacy continue to live on in re-runs and the millions of people he has impacted.  I wish he was still around because I would love to meet him and tell him how much I appreciate everything he’s done.  I guess I’ll have to settle for watching him on Saturday mornings.  For what it’s worth Bob, thanks for the lessons on painting, and on life.



  1. As! Bob Ross! We used to watch him some times. Our grandma Hazel who died 7 years ago was a big fan,. I remember her saying that she loved the show because he was a painter that preached while painting
    I am sure she probably shared some of your thoughts

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  2. 🙂
    I still watch Bob some Saturday mornings. It’s just a great way to start the weekend.

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  3. Bob Ross, What can you say the man was amazing!!!!!!!

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  4. “He says that it’s your world and you do with it what you want.”

    That’s gold, man. How much better would our lives/careers/attitudes be if we stopped worrying about what other people expect us to do, and focused on what we believe we can do? I used to watch Bob Ross the same way you do – a little slack jawed at his incredible talent. That had to come at least in part from his outlook. Gotta put that into practice!

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    • I just read what you said to my girlfriend. She said “a freakin men.”

      I concur. 🙂

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