One definition for “inspiration” is “the act or process of inhaling or breathing in”. This is my favorite definition because that is how I feel when inspiration hits me. It takes over my mind and body and I can practically feel the energy flowing through me, no matter how tired I might have been the moment before. In my line of work, I’ve witnessed many people leading extremely busy lives yet they still manage to bring passion and power to the causes they support simply because they are inspired.
Sometimes, though, it can be hard to find inspiration. Maybe you’ve recently experienced disappointment or you’re simply stuck in a rut and no matter how hard you look, inspiration evades you. Hopefully this post will help you find the inspiration you’ve been searching for.
Many things inspire me: pictures, quotes, books, etc. My personal go-to for inspiration, though, is definitely movies. Movies are so accessible and a great place to “lose yourself” for a couple hours. When you find a really great one with a character that you relate to or a cause that makes your heart skip a beat, you can walk away with a totally different mindset and a new attitude on life.
In no particular order, here are some of my favorite inspirational movies. Some may be your favorite, too. I’d love to hear your suggestions of others so please feel free to add them in the Comments section below or on my Facebook page. Ready to get inspired??? Let’s go!
This one is for those of you who are passionate about the state of America’s education system or want to learn more about it. The documentary analyzes the failures of our system by following a handful of students in the D.C. area who are hoping to be accepted into a charter school there. The filmmakers pose questions we should be asking about how effectively our children are being taught and what it means for the future of our country. I think it’s impossible to walk away from this movie without having your own questions and a new found interest in our country’s education system.
I can hardly believe this movie is 22 years old! I’ll admit that this may be a more inspirational flick for the ladies reading this post but all baseball fans can certainly appreciate it. It depicts how female players rose to the many challenges the All-American Girls’ Professional League faced after forming in 1943. Actresses Geena Davis, Rosie O’Donnell, and Madonna excellently portray the gumption it took for women to participate and build a brand like the women’s pro baseball league. It leaves me feeling that if they could do that, I can take on any challenge, too.
Make sure you have tissues handy when you watch this one. It’s the story of two men, played by Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman, who are on their deathbeds and decide to embark on a road trip together to cross as many things as possible off their “bucket list”. I think anyone can appreciate this film because don’t we all have things we want to see or do before we, well, kick the bucket? This movie inspires me to not be afraid to try new things but also serves as a great reminder of the most important thing in life. I won’t spoil it for you but here’s a hint: it’s not on their bucket list.
“I’ve got one life. I want it to mean something.” These words, spoken by Matthew McConaughey in his role as Ron Woodruff, stick with me. Woodruff, a Texas electrician who takes his treatment and the treatment of hundreds of other HIV-positive people into his own hands and ultimately saves lives and helps to nurture a community of love and support during a time when an HIV or AIDS diagnosis was a death sentence. I think we all want our time here on Earth to mean something and Woodruff’s unwavering stand for a community once shunned inspires me to stand up for what’s right.
So I’m going a bit silly with this pick but hear me out! Romy and Michelle are two young women headed to their 10 year high school reunion and, in their own quirky way, manage to remind me of the neurotic emphasis most of us put on this special night. While their efforts to show how successful they’ve become go awry and they are even at odds with each other for a time, this movie reminds me of all the wonderful friendships I’ve had made over the years and how, at the end of the day, I have the most amazing group of friends who will always be there if I need them. You just might be inspired to rekindle a great friendship from your high school or college days!
Let’s face it. We all second-guess ourselves, worry about whether the decisions we make will turn out well, and too often talk ourselves out of making big changes. What if we didn’t? Enter Walter Mitty, a mild-mannered (read: boring with a capital B) Life magazine worker who is so ordinary he is constantly ignored and passed over by co-workers and the public in general. Despite (or perhaps because of) this anonymous existence, Walter frequently loses himself in detailed daydreams where he is the hero and often saves the day. When his job and potential for love are at risk, Walter finally takes action in the real world and things more exciting than he could have ever dreamed start to happen. I love this movie because it inspires me to not only take chances in my own life but I encourage my friends, family, and especially my sons to dream big and just go for it.
Heartwrenching? Yes. Amazing historical drama reminding you that despite the evil in the world, good people are always there to stand up for the less fortunate? Yes. This film tells the horrifying story of the 1994 Rwandan Genocide as it was experienced by hotelier Paul Rusesabagina. Despite endangering his own safety and that of his family, Rusesabagina opened the doors of his luxury hotel to thousands of refugees fleeing corrupt politicians and the thugs intent on killing them. It will bring you perspective about how fortunate we are to live in a relatively peaceful country and inspire you to learn more about the world events and how they affect our lives in America.
Now, I’m pretty sure everyone and their brother has seen Apollo 13 but it needed to make this list. The excitement and drama build as the three Apollo 13 astronauts disembark on their trip to the moon and, as most of us know, things become even more intense when everything goes terribly wrong. I find this movie inspiring because it will never cease to amaze me that human beings travel into outer space (so what’s stopping any of us from reaching our dreams here on earth?) but also because I love how supportive the families of the astronauts are. Clearly, this was an incredibly dangerous mission but because it was their life’s dream to walk on the moon, their families were there to encourage them. Side note: growing up, my dream was to be an astronaut. In fact, I wanted to be the first astronaut to give birth on the moon. Unfortunately, math and science were not my strong points and NASA is a real stickler on their astronauts being really good at math and science. But I still dream that one day, somehow, I’ll be able to fly amongst the stars!
Michael Newman, played by Adam Sandler, is an overworked family man who has reached his breaking point when he stumbles across the answer to all of his problems: a universal remote, not for his TV, but his life. He’s able to pause, rewind, fast forward, and skip over areas of his life that stress him or take up too much time while everyone else wonders how he manages to juggle everything so effortlessly. However, what begins as the answer to all of his problems eventually leads him to being completely disengaged from his everyday life and ultimately the realization that it’s the sum of the good, the bad, the ugly, and even the seemingly insignificant moments that amount to a fulfilling life. This movie might inspire you to slow down and remember to enjoy all parts of your life.
If you follow this blog, you know I couldn’t complete this list without including a movie about dogs! This story of a man and his loyal canine companion is a real tearjerker but 100% worth it. In my capacity on the Special Pals Board of Directors, it inspires me to help find every one of the sweet dogs and cats currently in the shelter a forever home. Animal lovers will definitely want to add this pick to their “movies to watch” roster.
Sometimes inspiration strikes when you least expect it and other times, you have to hunt it down. I hope this list gets the ball rolling for you. I hope you’ll share your own inspirational movie picks here or on the Positive Force Facebook page. Imagine all the good that will come about when we’ve got a bunch of inspired people running around!