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20 Inspirational Documentaries On Netflix To Guide Your Life

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

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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 January 15, 2021

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

Posture

First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

  • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
  • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
  • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
  • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

Facial Expressions

Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

  • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
  • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
  • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

2. Relax Your Face

New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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3. Improve Your Eye Contact

Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

3. Smile More

There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

4. Hand Gestures

Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

5. Enhance Your Handshake

In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

“Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

Final Takeaways

Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

Reference

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