Watch an Inspiring Movie

Practice of the Week
Watch an Inspiring Movie

The TV and newspapers provide a constant stream of bad news. Our own lives are filled with a constant barrage of stress. With so much negative information overwhelming us at all times, we need an easy and effective way to replenish our souls.

Fortunately, a quick and powerful source of inspiration is readily available: movies!

A good film is truly a remarkable gift of modern technology. In about two hours you can enter a whole new world and become absorbed into its story, characters, and underlying message. When a film touches your heart, it can inspire you to new heights of hope and possibility. It can almost instantly change your attitude and how you feel.

The average American spends about eleven years of his or her life watching TV -- more than any other waking activity, including work! While watching TV can be fun and relaxing at times, the preponderance of violent images and bad news on TV can also be stress-inducing. In fact, studies show that most people actually feel worse after they watch TV.

On the other hand, an inspiring film can have an uplifting effect on people for many hours -- or even days. Research indicates that traits such as kindness and bravery are increased in moviegoers after they watch films whose characters display such qualities.

Since what we watch on TV or in the movies affects how we feel and act, it's critical we become selective about what we expose ourselves to. When you were young,your parents probably prevented you from seeing certain shows. Now that you're an adult, you need to choose which images and stories will help feed the type of person you want to become. Because there is a lot of "garbage" in the media, it's not an easy job to do. To help make the task easier for you, I have come up with a list of thirty highly inspiring films. This list was created by asking approximately 2,000 people who attended my workshops about the "most inspiring movie they ever saw." The thirty movies that got the most votes ended up on the list. In alphabetical order, here are the films:
  1. Being There
  2. The Bucket List
  3. Brother Sun, Sister Moon
  4. Casablanca
  5. Chariots of Fire
  6. Dead Poets Society
  7. The Empire Strikes Back
  8. E.T.
  9. Field of Dreams
  10. Forrest Gump
  11. Gandhi
  12. The Girl in the Cafe
  13. Good Will Hunting
  14. Gravity
  15. Groundhog Day
  16. Harold and Maude
  17. The Matrix
  18. Michael
  19. Network
  20. Out of Africa
  21. Peaceful Warrior
  22. Powder
  23. The Razor's Edge
  24. Rocky
  25. Schindler's List
  26. The Shawshank Redemption
  27. The Ten Commandments
  28. Titanic
  29. Wizard of Oz
  30. Yes Man
[And six more: 1. Avatar; 2. Dead Man Walking; 3. Enlightenment Guaranteed; 4. Inside Out; 5. Life is Beautiful; 6. Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter...and Spring. --Meredith]

Of course, there are many other inspirational films. Yet if there are some of these you haven't seen, locate them and give yourself a few hours to soak them in. If you've seen them all, pick some to watch again. I've learned that I often get more benefit from seeing a movie a second, or third, or fourth time, than I did the first time I saw it.

A few years ago, I went to a showing of the classic, Harold and Maude. The first time I saw this movie, I loved it. I was now seeing it for the fifth time. I casually commented to the woman sitting next to me that I had seen this movie on four previous occasions. She looked at me as if I was crazy, and then said, "I've seen this movie twenty-six previous times!" She went on to tell me that this movie had totally changed her life. The main character in the film, Maude, inspired her to leave her loveless marriage, travel around the world, and become an artist. I was amazed. Ever since I heard this woman's story, I have been much more open about the potential effects a movie can have on a person's life.

I often watch a good movie many times. I've learned to "absorb" what inspires me about a particular film so that it never seems "old." For me, watching movies has become a powerful source of illumination and learning.

A truly wonderful film is a blessing. It can make your heart soar, teach you new ways to live, and help you gain the wisdom of the characters portrayed in the script.

What films have inspired you in the past? Perhaps it's time to see them again. What movies have simply given you a good laugh or made you feel good? Like a good friend, a good movie can repeatedly feed your soul and uplift your heart.

* * *
For list of all weekly practices: "Practice of the Week Index"