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My Most Reliable Coping Mechanism: Bob Ross

There aren’t many things that I can always rely on to calm my emotions but watching Bob Ross in “The Joy of Painting” is definitely one of them. He holds such a large place in my heart and really is there for me at my worst. His kind words and asmr-like videos are the perfect comfort show for an anxious gal like me. There’s no pressure. I can just watch him create art.

“No pressure. Just relax and watch it happen.” – Bob Ross

It all started when my older brother showed me “The Joy Of Painting” in high school. He has never showed me a movie or show that I didn’t love and Bob Ross was no different. I watched it and felt instantly calm. It made my world go quiet and brought such an immediate rush of happiness.

After that, I binge-watched every single episode. By now I’ve seen them all countless times, but they always feel like the first: because my reasoning for watching is always different.

The reason you watch comfort shows is unique in each present moment and circumstance, and yet the coping mechanisms are often the same.

Mine is always Bob Ross. The degree and reason for going to his show changes, but I always find myself clicking on that same show every time.

I only go to watch Bob Ross when I’m upset now and I used to wonder why. When I started watching originally, there was no sadness behind it, nothing to ‘get’ out of the episodes. I realized, though, that he always made me smile and always seemed so at peace with himself and the world. When I am upset or am looking to get something out of watching, I’m chasing the feelings I felt back in high school watching Bob Ross for the very first time. Bob gives off such reassurance and certainty in the fact that you’re actually okay.

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


After watching Bob Ross for so many years, I can often tell what the episode will be like based on the thumbnail. If I am feeling sad and want to forget why, I noticed I try to avoid watching the blue, wintery, or darker looking paintings. I instead look for something with pinks or clearer skies. If I want to wallow and feel all my sadness and emotions, I avoid the lighter ones so I don’t risk trying to feel happy.

It is hard to explain what exactly goes on in my head when I watch Bob Ross. Thoughts aren’t ever orderly or linear when I first turn it on.

My brain feels a sense of release when I turn the show on. The fuzziness clears a little and I can almost feel more capable of processing my feelings with more clarity.

“Isn’t it fantastic that you can change your mind and create all these happy things?” – Bob Ross

Now the thoughts don’t just disappear and get solved immediately.

It’s different every time and the reasons for watching him are usually a little different too.

But he’s like my support system in a weird way.

He talks and I listen, and sometimes even talk with him.

It’s interesting how such a simple show that was meant to teach people how to paint has become a coping mechanism for comfort.

I think why I gravitate towards “The Joy Of Painting” is because it wasn’t created with the intention I use it for. It’s not a meditation video or a “How to Calm Anxiety” video.

Bob Ross didn’t start this painting series to try and calm my sadness. And yet, he does.

And that is arguably the most amazing part of it.

He didn’t even try to necessarily do that, but his presence is so comforting and safe that that is exactly what it does for me.

If I need to cry, I will turn on Bob Ross.

If I need to stop myself from crying, I will turn on Bob Ross.

If I need to calm my anxiety, I’ll watch Bob Ross.

If I need some help falling asleep, Bob Ross.

If I need some reassurance, Bob Ross.

It doesn’t always have to be about making myself feel happy or making myself get over my sadness. Sometimes it’s just about coping; whether that be by avoiding feeling at all, avoid feeling good or bad, or just taking it all in and feeling everything at once. Regardless of the why, “The Joy of Painting” always seems to be the how.

video taken watching 'The Joy Of Painting' while my cat purrs.

“The secret to doing anything is believing that you can do it. Anything that you believe you can do strong enough, you can do. Anything. As long as you believe.” – Bob Ross


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