Documentaries for Motivational Living

woman watching video on laptop - motivation

When we see other people accomplish great things, it’s inspiring.

Motivation presents in many forms. It’s the reason why someone chooses to act in a particular way. Behavioral scientists believe there are two forms of motivation: extrinsic and intrinsic.

  • Extrinsic motivation is an external factor or set of factors that contribute to an individual’s actions. It might include positive characteristics such as praise, competition, and reward.
  • Intrinsic motivation is a factor or set of factors more inherent that contribute to a person’s actions. It might include positive causes such as a sense of accomplishment, companionship, and control over life’s circumstances.

By choosing sobriety, you could have had a combination of both types of motivation.

Can someone motivate you? Technically, no. Only you know what you respond to and for what reasons—which is why inspiration is so varied and personal. Reading books, attending lectures, and watching documentaries about what people accomplish adds to your motivation. These explorations keep your mind open to possibilities and help you stay focused on the reasons you desire a healthier, happier life.

Motivational Documentaries

These suggestions are just a few options that use the power of film to demonstrate accomplishment, perseverance, willpower, and inspiration.

Awake: A Dream From Standing Rock

You may remember the controversy surrounding the Dakota Access Pipeline in 2016 and 2017. Led by Native Americans of the Standing Rock Sioux, these “water protectors” braced themselves against an onslaught of government interference and corporate interests. In their fight to preserve water rights, the protesters were maced, beaten, hosed with water cannons, and arrested.

Narrated by Floris White Bull, she inspires viewers with this message: “I am not dreaming. I am awake. I have been woken by the spirit inside me that demanded I open my eyes and see the world.”

Brené Brown: The Call to Courage

Funny, honest, and direct, Brown encapsulates years of books and lectures into a motivational documentary on vulnerability. Brown’s stance is that it takes true courage to be vulnerable, to put yourself “in the arena.” She’s made it her life’s work to examine shame, guilt, and vulnerability to empower people to accept their imperfections and love what’s real.

This film is typical Brown: quick quips, amusing anecdotes, and effective messaging. One pivotal but simple point: “Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we’re supposed to be and embracing who we are.”


Think back to when you were 14. What were you doing? Hanging with friends? Listening to music? Doing homework and chores? When Dutch teen Laura Dekker was that age in 2010, she sailed alone around the world without parents, a support team, or a follow boat. More than 500 days later, she completed her journey and became the youngest person to do so.

The documentary demonstrates how passion reinforces perseverance. Now in her early 20s, she oversees the Laura Dekker World Sailing Foundation and is a motivational speaker, author, and professional captain. “I want to simply learn about the world and live freely,” she once said.

Nick Vujicic: Life Without Limbs

Vujicic burst on the scene a decade or so ago with twinkling eyes and a monumental message of God’s love. Born without arms and legs, Vujicic is a dynamic athlete, a husband, a father, and a leader of a worldwide ministry.

When asked what gives him hope, he responds “Discovering the truth in these three things: my value, my purpose, and my destiny. Knowing that my value is in God; my purpose is serving Him; and my destiny is where He leads me. Hope helps me know that I’m not alone and that because He is with me, I will not go through anything that I can’t handle.”

The Soul of Success: The Jack Canfield Story

If you haven’t read a Chicken Soup for the Soul book, you’ve certainly seen one. This film is about motivational speaker, author, and media mogul Jack Canfield. What kind of impact has he made? The Chicken Soup for the Soul book series has more than 250 titles and sold more than 500 million copies worldwide in 40 languages. It’s the foundation of an expansive positive media company.

The story begins with his personal journey, ventures into his professional approach, and reveals the massive reception of the Chicken Soup series, demonstrating the significance of tapping into potential. “I believe if you think of a dream, you have the capacity to make that dream come true.”

You Can Heal Your Life

Aspirational leader Louise L. Hay created this documentary to help people understand the power of positive affirmations. She believed they’re like planting a seed: “it’s not necessarily true at the moment, but it is something you want to have be true.” In this documentary, she shares her personal story of tragedy and worthlessness and how she not only overcame challenges, but also dedicated herself to helping other people examine their views regarding abundance, self-esteem, healing, and other factors.

Hay reinforced in this film and in her massive expanse of work: “Every thought we think and every word we speak is creating our future. If you change your thinking, you can change your life.”

Other Forms of Motivation from Willingway

We empower people with the tools to form a solid, rewarding life. As one of our former residents said, “The first gift Willingway gave me was hope. I do not know which day of my stay I first felt that hope, but I know I felt safe in the walls of this magical place.”

If you or a loved one is in need of inpatient rehabilitation or outpatient services in Georgia, ask us why our mission is to “improve the lives we touch.”

To find out more about services offered by Willingway, a Georgia residential rehab, contact us 24 hours a day at 912-207-7227, and let us help you get started on the road to recovery.Willingway - Addiction Treatment Experts