People can draw inspiration from almost anywhere: books, television, friends, family – these outlets encourage us to extend ourselves into unfamiliar territory and test our own limits in the hopes that we will emerge as better people.

But these things aren’t always available to give us the boost of enthusiasm that we need to experience some kind of breakthrough. Sometimes we get stuck in the mundane rhythms of work, school and life in general, and go for weeks without experiencing any kind of intellectual or emotional stimulation. We find our spirits in the doldrums and we begin to see that our work – whatever it is – begins to suffer from idea deprivation. We just don’t have the time to arouse our thoughts and passion for life.

I’ve found that one of the best ways to spark a season of productivity is to observe the creative or inspirational process in another subject. I don’t mean to just read a book or listen to a song (although that’s a great way to be inspired), but to watch someone else triumph amidst struggle and perseverance.

The documentary is, to me, one of the most enjoyable modes of visual communication. Yes, it receives criticisms of clever editing that is meant to pander to the audience’s emotions, but very often you come across personalities that are so genuine and so intriguing that it becomes hard to doubt their authenticity. Documentaries can serve as case studies in success, failure, happiness, and despair – like many other artistic mediums they aim to capture the entire spectrum of true human emotion, and they do it with (allegedly) real people.

If you feel that you are in a creative or emotional dry spell, here are 6 documentaries that offer stories that can reawaken your spiritual sluggishness and arouse a new outlook on life.

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This article was first posted on February 20, 2013