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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 November 5, 2019

                                              How to Cultivate Continuous Learning to Stay Competitive

                                              How to Cultivate Continuous Learning to Stay Competitive

                                              Assuming the public school system didn’t crush your soul, learning is a great activity. It expands your viewpoint. It gives you new knowledge you can use to improve your life. It is important for your personal growth. Even if you discount the worldly benefits, the act of learning can be a source of enjoyment.

                                              “I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.” — Mark Twain

                                              But in a busy world, it can often be hard to fit in time to learn anything that isn’t essential. The only things learned are those that need to be. Everything beyond that is considered frivolous. Even those who do appreciate the practice of lifelong learning, can find it difficult to make the effort.

                                              Here are some tips for installing the habit of continuous learning:

                                              1. Always Have a Book

                                              It doesn’t matter if it takes you a year or a week to read a book. Always strive to have a book that you are reading through, and take it with you so you can read it when you have time.

                                              Just by shaving off a few minutes in-between activities in my day I can read about a book per week. That’s at least fifty each year.

                                              2. Keep a “To-Learn” List

                                              We all have to-do lists. These are the tasks we need to accomplish. Try to also have a “to-learn” list. On it you can write ideas for new areas of study.

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                                              Maybe you would like to take up a new language, learn a skill or read the collective works of Shakespeare. Whatever motivates you, write it down.

                                              3. Get More Intellectual Friends

                                              Start spending more time with people who think. Not just people who are smart, but people who actually invest much of their time in learning new skills. Their habits will rub off on you.

                                              Even better, they will probably share some of their knowledge with you.

                                              4. Guided Thinking

                                              Albert Einstein once said,

                                              “Any man who reads too much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking.”

                                              Simply studying the wisdom of others isn’t enough, you have to think through ideas yourself. Spend time journaling, meditating or contemplating over ideas you have learned.

                                              5. Put it Into Practice

                                              Skill based learning is useless if it isn’t applied. Reading a book on C++ isn’t the same thing as writing a program. Studying painting isn’t the same as picking up a brush.

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                                              If your knowledge can be applied, put it into practice.

                                              In this information age, we’re all exposed to a lot of information, it’s important to re-learn how to learn so as to put the knowledge into practice.

                                              6. Teach Others

                                              You learn what you teach. If you have an outlet of communicating ideas to others, you are more likely to solidify that learning.

                                              Start a blog, mentor someone or even discuss ideas with a friend.

                                              7. Clean Your Input

                                              Some forms of learning are easy to digest, but often lack substance.

                                              I make a point of regularly cleaning out my feed reader for blogs I subscribe to. Great blogs can be a powerful source of new ideas. But every few months, I realize I’m collecting posts from blogs that I am simply skimming.

                                              Every few months, purify your input to save time and focus on what counts.

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                                              8. Learn in Groups

                                              Lifelong learning doesn’t mean condemning yourself to a stack of dusty textbooks. Join organizations that teach skills.

                                              Workshops and group learning events can make educating yourself a fun, social experience.

                                              9. Unlearn Assumptions

                                              You can’t add water to a full cup. I always try to maintain a distance away from any idea. Too many convictions simply mean too few paths for new ideas.

                                              Actively seek out information that contradicts your worldview.

                                              Our minds can’t be trusted, but this is what we can do about it to be wiser.

                                              10. Find Jobs that Encourage Learning

                                              Pick a career that encourages continual learning. If you are in a job that doesn’t have much intellectual freedom, consider switching to one that does.

                                              Don’t spend forty hours of your week in a job that doesn’t challenge you.

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                                              11. Start a Project

                                              Set out to do something you don’t know how. Forced learning in this way can be fun and challenging.

                                              If you don’t know anything about computers, try building one. If you consider yourself a horrible artist, try a painting.

                                              12. Follow Your Intuition

                                              Lifelong learning is like wandering through the wilderness. You can’t be sure what to expect and there isn’t always an end goal in mind.

                                              Letting your intuition guide you can make self-education more enjoyable. Most of our lives have been broken down to completely logical decisions, that making choices on a whim has been stamped out.

                                              13. The Morning Fifteen

                                              Productive people always wake up early. Use the first fifteen minutes of your morning as a period for education.

                                              If you find yourself too groggy, you might want to wait a short time. Just don’t put it off later in the day where urgent activities will push it out of the way.

                                              14. Reap the Rewards

                                              Learn information you can use. Understanding the basics of programming allows me to handle projects that other people would require outside help. Meeting a situation that makes use of your educational efforts can be a source of pride.

                                              15. Make Learning a Priority

                                              Few external forces are going to persuade you to learn. The desire has to come from within. Once you decide you want to make lifelong learning a habit, it is up to you to make it a priority in your life.

                                              More About Continuous Learning

                                              Featured photo credit: Paul Schafer via unsplash.com

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