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21 Inspirational Documentaries That Will Change Your Life

21 Inspirational Documentaries That Will Change Your Life

As documentaries are grounded in true stories, they can inspire in a way fictionalized films can’t. The emotional impact can be more thrilling than any blockbuster because they’re based on facts, which explains their appeal. Here are 21 of the very best inspirational documentaries you can find—hunt them down and enjoy!

1. Stranded

    Stranded details the events of the 1972 Andes plane crash, as told by the 16 survivors. It’s a harrowing, but exceptionally uplifting, tale of surviving against unimaginable adversity. It’s a documentary absolutely everybody should see.

    2. The Cove

      This will change your views on dolphins in captivity, and the efforts of conservationist Ric O’Barry are life changing. The issue of mercury in the fish we eat is also raised—it hammers this point home with shocking honesty. Revelatory stuff.

      3. Blackfish

        Blackfish also highlights the dreadful nature of captivity, and the lengths conservationists will go to in order to help. The orcas in this film have been held captive for up to 30 years, but their incredible intelligence is overtly displayed in a riveting, moving film.

        4. Food Matters

          In an age of pesticides, preservatives, and mass-produced food, one viewing of Food Matters will make you change your lifestyle for the better.

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          5. Man On Wire

            This is the astonishing tale of Phillipe Petit. The French tight-rope walker waltzed between the two World Trade Centers in New York in 1974. Poignant for obvious reasons, and a rousing portrait of what one person can do.

            6. Senna

              Formula One driver Ayrton Senna captivated the world with his driving skills, personality, and film star looks. In a controversial, but brilliant, F1 career (from 1984–1994), he won three World Championships, but his story met a tragic end. His legacy, however, will never be forgotten.

              7. 1 

                Narrated by Michael Fassbender, 1 (available on iTunes) is an in-depth look at the tumultuous era of Formula 1 racing in the 1960s and 1970s. Tragedy was commonplace, and the push for safety improvements was arduous. The FIA’s safety program has now saved millions of lives via the car industry, and much of this is due to the men who risked their lives then.

                8. Grizzly Man

                  Werner Herzog’s exceptional documentary delves deep into the world of Timothy Treadwell, a conservationist who lived with wild grizzly bears for 13 summers. The video footage he recorded is intimate; sadly his daring met with a tragic end, but Herzog’s film displays his inner turmoil and love for nature.

                  9. Marley

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                    Bob Marley remains a global superstar, and this documentary delves deep into his life to reveal a complex man with a natural gift for music. Poignant and thoroughly inspiring.

                    10. Woodstock

                      The 1969 Woodstock Festival has gone down in legend. What really stands out is the quality of the music on display; whether it’s Richie Havens, The Who, Jimi Hendrix, or Joe Cocker. It’s emotional music and it’s performed before an audience of 500,000!

                      11. Searching For Sugar Man

                        Sixto Rodriguez is a rock star who never was—except in South Africa, where his songs became part of the apartheid movement. Believing their hero to be dead, several fans began a search to discover his fate, only to find something utterly unexpected.

                        12. The Stone Roses: Made of Stone

                          The seminal English band The Stone Roses were scuppered by legal problems at their peak, and split for 16 years. Despite the odds they reformed in 2011 and embarked on several exhilarating homecoming gigs in Manchester.

                          13. The Last Waltz

                            In 1976 Martin Scorsese recorded The Band’s final gig. It’s gone down in history, with Levon Helm’s performance of The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down being considered one of the all-time-great live music moments. A must for fans of good music.

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                            14. Beware of Mr. Baker

                              An account of notoriously tumultuous drummer Ginger Baker, once of legendary band Cream. The documentary shows the man and his passions (mainly drumming), but in later life he movingly reconnects with his son.

                              15. Jason Becker: Not Dead Yet

                                A teenage, guitar-playing prodigy in the late ’80s, Becker’s life seemed over when he was diagnosed with ALS (a.k.a. Lou Gehrig’s disease). Now in a wheelchair and unable to walk or talk, Becker continues to make music. What’s truly exceptional is his lust for life and sense of humor—a remarkable man and example to us all.

                                16. The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters

                                  In this compelling documentary, two men compete for the title of World Champion on Nintendo’s 1981 arcade game, Donkey Kong. Bizarrely, this all proves very dramatic and moving.

                                  17. Jiro Dreams of Sushi

                                    Sushi master Jiro runs a tiny restaurant in Tokyo, yet the 87-year-old has three Michelin stars and is regarded as the best sushi chef in the world. The documentary movingly examines his life and earnest dedication to his profession.

                                    18. Touching The Void

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                                      In 1985, two climbers (Joe Simpson and Simon Yates) took on Siula Grande in the Peruvian Andes. After making the summit, Simpson fell and broke his leg badly during the descent. What followed was a brutal fight for survival with life-changing decisions made at every step of the way home.

                                      19. Project Nim

                                        A British documentary about the chimpanzee Nim. In the 1970s, Nim was entered into a research project to discover if a primate raised in a human family could develop sign language. The results were erratic, and wavered from stirring to heartbreaking.

                                        20. Waltz With Bashir

                                          An Israeli animated documentary by Ari Folman; this is a mesmerising tale telling of the futility of war, and it can make for shocking viewing. The anti-war message is very clear, however, and Waltz With Bashir stands as a warning to the world.

                                          20. Planet Earth

                                            The BBC’s thorough look at the world we all live on, narrated by Sir David Attenborough. Simply put: it’s brilliant!

                                            21. Into the Universe With Stephen Hawking

                                              Courtesy of the genius mind of the remarkable Mr. Hawking, we get a thorough look at the Universe. Compelling viewing from one of the world’s leading scientific minds.

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                                              Alex Morris

                                              Content Manager, Copywriter, & Blogger

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                                              Last Updated on March 13, 2019

                                              How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

                                              How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

                                              Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

                                              You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

                                              Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

                                              1. Work on the small tasks.

                                              When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

                                              Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

                                              2. Take a break from your work desk.

                                              Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

                                              Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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                                              3. Upgrade yourself

                                              Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

                                              The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

                                              4. Talk to a friend.

                                              Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

                                              Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

                                              5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

                                              If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

                                              Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

                                              Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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                                              6. Paint a vision to work towards.

                                              If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

                                              Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

                                              Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

                                              7. Read a book (or blog).

                                              The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

                                              Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

                                              Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

                                              8. Have a quick nap.

                                              If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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                                              9. Remember why you are doing this.

                                              Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

                                              What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

                                              10. Find some competition.

                                              Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

                                              Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

                                              11. Go exercise.

                                              Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

                                              Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

                                              As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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                                              Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

                                              12. Take a good break.

                                              Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

                                              Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

                                              Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

                                              Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

                                              More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

                                              Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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