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20 Inspirational Documentaries On Netflix To Guide Your Life

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20 Inspirational Documentaries On Netflix To Guide Your Life

Ah Netflix… the one thing that’s always been there for me. We turn to it in good times and bad and though the act of binge watching has somehow been elevated to the idea of an athletic endeavor we can still use Netflix to better ourselves. Here are 20 inspirational documentaries that are well worth your time.

1. Particle Fever

If you have ever questioned the intelligence of mankind this documentary will show you how brilliant we really are as the researches from CERN look to uncover the building blocks of our universe. It will leave you awestruck at the advancements in technology and science that go behind understanding our universe.

2. Fed Up

As a personal trainer and nutritionist I find it important to share documentaries like this one. Fed Up shares the information regarding the damaging effects of sugar and how important it is to reduce or eliminate it for the overall betterment of your health. It will inspire you to look closer into what goes into the foods you eat and make positive changes to your health.

3. The Queen Of Versailles

This documentary is about one of the richest families in America that were attempting to build one of the largest houses on earth as a display of their enormous wealth. When the financial crisis hit it impacted them too and everything had to be put on hold. What seems to be a story about greed and wealth surprised me as the the sensitivity and desire to help less fortunate people by the so called “Queen of Versailles”

4. Four Days In October

I can’t remember a more inspirational recent sports story than the 2004 Boston Red Sox and their incredible World Series run. There are so many inspiring and motivational sports stories out there but this one is so gripping as they look to erase the curse of the Great Bambino.

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5. Jiro Dreams Of Sushi

Part documentary for foodies but also the look into the incredible passion that goes into your true calling. Jiro Ono is an 85 year old master sushi chef that even after all this time still sees himself as a work in progress. Perfection in his mind can never be achieved despite his restaurant being regarded as one of the finest on earth. Seeing the dedication and passion the man devotes to his craft is more than inspiring for your own pursuits and passions.

6. K2: Siren of The Himalayas

The story of a climbing team in 2009 trying to scale one of the largest mountains on earth. The guts, focus and determination that it takes to attack a challenge like this demands respect in those who watch it. Mountain climbers are a rare breed that never cease to inspire that nothing is impossible.

7. 30 for 30: You Don’t Know Bo

Bo Jackson is one of the greatest athletes of not only our time but possibly ever. The ability to play both professional baseball and football is remarkable let alone being a standout in both. Though brought up from humble beginnings and always faced with difficulties and adversity Bo Jackson went on to be an inspiration to millions with sporting ability that many thought was not possible.

8. Food Inc

To me this is more essential viewing if you want to take control of your health and wellness. Food Inc sheds light into the damaging effects of the food industry not only to our health but the environment as well. Sometimes inspiration has to come in the form of outrage to enable change and encourage people to take a stand against corporations who cause such damage.

9. Hungry For Change

I want to keep the nutrition/health theme going as this might be the most inspirational health documentary on Netflix. Hungry For Change shows the damage that comes from following a modern and processed diet and the amazing changes that come when you introduce in real, whole foods.

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10. Happy People: A Year In The Taiga

A documentary from noted director Werner Herzog, the Taiga are a people who live in a remote, cold and merciless part of the world. The mindset and amazing vision they have to life will truly inspire you.

11. Planet Earth

The classic series that opens your eyes to the beauty of our world. Nature has its own way it inspires us whether it’s motivation to keep our world pristine or it may just encourage you to venture out and see as much of it as you can

12. Spinning Plates

Once again when it comes to passion high level chefs really take the cake (ignore that bad pun) and their dedication to their art is second to none. Spinning Plates follows three unique restaurants and the directions they have taken. This is not so much about food but a heart warming and motivational story that you just need to see for yourself.

13. Man On Wire

There’s a good chance you’ve already seen this or are at least familiar with the story of Philippe Petit’s high wire walk between the top of the World Trade Center. This is the story of someone with a goal that he will not let anyone get in the way of.

14. Don’t Stop Believin’: Everyman’s Journey

This is one of my favorites. It’s the story of a young singer found in rundown night clubs in Manila who was given the chance to be the front man for Journey on their world tour. Not so much a rags to riches story as it is a tale of seeing someone’s dreams come true right before their eyes. It really gives you the feeling that everyone’s gifts will soon be discovered.

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15. B.B King: The Life Of Riley

One of the most inspirational musicians of all time the story of B.B King is about more than just the music but once again about how you can’t ignore your passions.

16. Happy

This documentary takes a look at what really makes people happy. From people who live in slums to the swamps of Louisiana you will learn how what we think is actual happiness is actually pretty incorrect.

17. Hawking

Stephen Hawking is one of the most brilliant minds of our time there is not many people more inspirational than him. From suffering from a horrific condition it never prevented him from following his calling in life. It is determination and perseverance at its finest.

18. Storm Surfers

Storm Surfers once again shows you the amazing physical potential that all humans have in them. This follows a few surfers with the goal of riding the largest waves on earth. Their motivation in their surfing pursuits will inspire you in tackling your own challenges whether they be of a physical nature or personal goals.

19. Maidentrip

Any type of solo endeavor should be respected and admired no matter how small. Sailing around the world might be the most intense and dangerous of any solo pursuits. How about doing it as a 14 year old girl? Watch the amazing story of Laura Dekker as she goes on her two year voyage.

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20. 30 for 30: Into The Wind

If you’re Canadian you are already very familiar with Terry Fox. In case you’re not aware Terry Fox was a man who had suffered from cancer causing him to lose one of his legs. To raise awareness he would attempt to run; right across Canada on one leg. After watching the story of Terry Fox it gives us no excuse to follow through on anything be it big or small.

So there you have it–20 Netflix documentaries that will motivate and inspire you in all the various aspects of your life. You may find inspiration in many thing but these documentaries all provide some unique perspectives that you can learn from and apply to you own life. If you have your own favorite please feel free to share in the comments!

Featured photo credit: Leo Hidalgo via flickr.com

More by this author

Jamie Logie

Jamie is a personal trainer and health coach with a degree in Kinesiology and Food and Nutrition.

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Last Updated on July 20, 2021

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

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How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.

Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.

Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:

1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically

According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.

“Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor

Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:

Warming up

If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.

If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.

Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:

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  1. Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
  2. Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
  3. Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.

Stay hydrated

Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.

To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.

Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.

Meditate

Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.

Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.

Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.

Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:

2. Focus on your goal

One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.

Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’

Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.

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Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.

If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.[1]

3. Convert negativity to positivity

There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?

‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’

It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.

Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”

Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.

Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:

4. Understand your content

Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.

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However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.

“No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor

Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.

Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.[2]

One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.

5. Practice makes perfect

Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.

In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.

Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

6. Be authentic

There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.

Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.

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Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.

To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.

With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.

Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:

7. Post speech evaluation

Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.

Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation

We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.

You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.

Improve your next speech

As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:

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  • How did I do?
  • Are there any areas for improvement?
  • Did I sound or look stressed?
  • Did I stumble on my words? Why?
  • Was I saying “um” too often?
  • How was the flow of the speech?

Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.

If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:

Reference

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