Create a Smile File

Jesse J. Anderson

— 3 min read

Create a Smile File

Hey friends,

I just had a nice long Thanksgiving weekend and I’m still recovering from all the turkey, mashed potatoes, and gravy—aka the three key ingredients to a good Thanksgiving dinner.

If you’re in the US, Thanksgiving can be a great time to think about all that you’re thankful for and reflect on the good you’ve had in your life.

When you have ADHD, this is often really difficult!

We often forget our best accomplishments because of our difficulties with memory. I call this success amnesia. It’s easy to focus only on the negatives that have made a more permanent mark.

One strategy I write about in my book, is the idea of creating a smile file. A way to make those positive experiences more permanent so that we don’t forget to celebrate our wins.

Here’s the strategy:


To get a smile file started, set aside twenty minutes to think of any past successes and write them down. Start with thinking about the past week or past month, then the past year, etc.

Don’t worry about whether an accomplishment will impress other people. These are the things that are a personal win for you, no one else. Something you are personally proud of, even if others might not understand.

Maybe it’s a positive performance review at work or successfully launching a project you’ve been working on for months. Or maybe you remembered to call a friend, finally answered some emails you’ve been avoiding, or got out of bed on a difficult day. What counts as “success” so often depends on our current life circumstances.

You can even ask people you trust for honest positive feedback and write it down. Or maybe someone left a nice comment on social media or sent you a supportive email; save a screenshot or write it down in a notebook. This kind of encouragement can be rocket fuel to the ADHD brain.

The goal is to have a list of these accomplishments, compliments, and any other wins that make you smile when you see them. You should remain on the lookout for new smile moments to add so you can build up your smile file collection.

Once you have these down, set a recurring reminder so you remember to read them. You might be surprised by how much a quick glance at them can spark a shift in your mood and motivation.

Whenever you’re feeling that negativity or imposter syndrome, refer to this smile file to remind yourself of the things your hindsight lets you forget. These wins and victories can bring positivity and encouragement back to your daily life. Replace that worn-out negativity soundtrack with something that brings a grin to your face and some lightness to your spirit.

Stay focused,
Jesse J. Anderson

P.S. I’m secretly extending the book sale for an extra day, so if you procrastinated or forgot about it entirely, the deadline is right now!


This will be the last chance to get access to the free ADHD course bonus! If you want the course recordings (and other bonuses: discussion guide, motivation cheat sheet, strategies reference, ADHD resources guide), just get your copy during the sale today and then forward your receipt to

This is it, last chance! 😅

Paperback $17.99 $9.99 (45% off)

Ebook for $9.99 $4.99 (50% off)

All other stores

Sleep deprivation magnifies ADHD symptoms, yet most of us are night owls by default.


Big thanks to Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome (which affects roughly 75% of those with ADHD).

(via Threads)