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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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                                              How to Keep Yourself Awake at Work Without Caffeine

                                              How to Keep Yourself Awake at Work Without Caffeine

                                              Keeping yourself awake at work can be a real challenge when you’re bored, exhausted or sleep-deprived.

                                              But before you reach for that can of Red Bull, bottle of Mountain Dew, or pot of coffee, try these healthy remedies to stimulate your 5 different senses and help you stay awake at work:

                                              Sight – Visual Stimulation

                                              The first thing you do when you wake up is opening your eyes, so your visual stimulation is very important to keeping your energy level high.

                                              1. Maximize your exposure to light.

                                              Your body’s internal rhythm is regulated by the amount of light you receive. The greater your exposure, the more alert you will feel.

                                              Open the shades and let in the sunlight. Step outside or look out the window. Turn on all the artificial lights in your office or around your work space.

                                              2. Exercise your eyes (or give them a break).

                                              Roll your eyes up and down, side to side and diagonally. Rotate them clockwise and then counterclockwise. Squeeze them shut and then open them wide. Do this several times.

                                              Reading and sitting in front of a computer screen for long periods can lead to eye fatigue.

                                              Take regular breaks with deliberate blinking and looking out into the distance.

                                              3. Take note of your environment.

                                              Learn to enjoy people-watching. Observe their activities, speech, body language and interactions with others. Notice the details of building, trees and other objects around you, including their color, shape and size.

                                              By doing this, you’re not only relaxing your eye muscles but also calming your mind.

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                                              Hearing – Auditory Stimulation

                                              What you hear or listen to have direct effect on your brain. This is why we feel so annoyed and sometimes angry when we hear construction noise when we’re working.

                                              4. Engage in conversation.

                                              Talk to a friend or colleague. Trade funny stories. Discuss your business venture, a creative idea, the latest political scandal, or any other topic that interests you.

                                              Practice mindful listening to what you and the other person are saying. Tune into the tone, volume and content of the conversation.

                                              Learn how to practice better listening from this guide:

                                              Why Listen to Reply Instead of Understand Is the Key to Failure

                                              5. Listen to upbeat music.

                                              Try hip hop, rock or jazz to keep you alert. Instrumental, non-distracting music works best.

                                              Sing, whistle, and hum along if you can. Plug in the earphones if you must.

                                              Smell – Olfactory Stimulation

                                              If you’re feeling sleepy and suddenly smell the coffee, you’ll probably feel more energetic. This is why smell is an influential stimulation.

                                              6. Work your nose.

                                              Aroma therapists recommend essential oils of peppermint (to boost energy), rosemary (to build awareness), eucalyptus (to increase oxygen), cedarwood  (to activate your mind), and cinnamon (to improve your reaction time).

                                              If you don’t have essential oils on hand, you can use lotions or burning candles that provide the same scents.

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                                              Citrus like lemons, limes, grapefruits and oranges are also natural olfactory stimulants. Get a whiff of these citrus scents to stay awake.

                                              Taste – Gustatory Stimulation

                                              If you want an energetic day at work, you can’t let your tongue feeling plain and flavorless.

                                              7. Have a good breakfast.

                                              Start off with the most important meal of the day.

                                              Think fresh, light and healthy: bran cereals, wholegrain breads, fruits, and yogurt.

                                              Nix the heavy stuff like sausages, greasy eggs or pancakes.

                                              Need some breakfasts inspirations? Check out these ideas:

                                              20 Healthy Breakfast Choices That Will Save You Time

                                              8. Drink lots of water.

                                              Keep a glass or bottle of H2O near you and sip from it throughout the day. Dehydration can leave you feeling tired, sluggish and sleepy.

                                              So make sure you drink enough water throughout the day. Not sure how much to drink? This can help you:

                                              How Much Water Should You Drink Each Day (and How Much Is Too Much for You)

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                                              Think that you’ve been drinking too little water? Try these friendly reminders:

                                              3 Best Apps To Help You Drink Much More Water

                                              9. Eat energy-boosting snacks.

                                              Nuts and fruits (like bananas, apples and strawberries) are sure bets. Pairings with staying power include baby carrots with a low-fat cream cheese dip; celery sticks with peanut butter; red peppers with hummus; and plain yogurt with granola.

                                              Avoid carb-filled, sugary snacks that make you crash and leave you feeling tired.

                                              Here you can find some healthy snack ideas:

                                              25 Healthy Snack Recipes To Make Your Workday More Productive

                                              Touch – Tactile Stimulation

                                              Last but not least, your sense of touch will make you physically feel more energetic and less stressful.

                                              10. Splash cold water on your face.

                                              Do this in the morning, during bathroom breaks and in the afternoon. Being exposed to cold water pushes your body to adjust and regulate its internal temperature, which in turn keeps you alert.

                                              This works the same as you take a cold shower to increase mood and alertness. Take a look at this article to learn more about it:

                                              5 Surprising Benefits of Cold Showers

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                                              11. Use acupressure.

                                              Apply pressure to, massage, or tap on the stimulation points of your body. These include the top of your head, the back of your neck, the back of your hand (between the thumb and index finger), just below the knee and your earlobes.

                                              Watch this video to learn about the acupressure points you can try:

                                              12. Get moving.

                                              Move away from your chair and stand, walk, run or climb the stairs. Feel the earth under your feet. Stretch and twist. Do jumping jacks, lunges, push-ups and back bends.

                                              And if you need to move more discreetly, wiggle your feet, bounce your knee up and down, scrunch your toes, or cross your legs.

                                              You can also try some simple stretches and exercises at your desk:

                                              Unlike addictive caffeine fixes, these remedies activate your senses, engage your attention, amp up your energy and prevent morning grogginess and afternoon slumps without the side effects or health risks.

                                              Pick a few ways from this list of suggestions and practice them consistently. And when you do this consistently, you’ll soon see the positive results — a more energetic and productive you at work.

                                              Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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