Movies That Inspire Us

Since this is the New Year, we thought to start on an inspired note as this time tends to bring on much thought and reflection about a range of topics from careers, goals, family as well as plans for the future. Sometimes Jan. 1 commences with the universal condition of receiving bad news.

It's especially difficult if the less than anticipated news is a highly challenging situation. When this surfaces, we look towards ways in which to face such news, as well as survive the consequences, and manage the unknown ongoing. Bad news is a point in time which also unfolds as a process.

Some coping mechanisms may be mal-adaptive such as abusing alcohol or other drugs, prescribed and not. What are ways in which one can engage in good self care when going through a tough situation? Keep support systems close, treat ourselves kindly, and even create a "joy list" of activities to keep us energized and inspired without feeling guilty.

Fortunate for us, the film canon provides depictions of working through bad news that can leave us uplifted, renewed and refreshed, if only for a couple of hours. It's great if that feeling and knowledge can stay or grow with you. Sometimes we turn to sheer entertainment and "feel good" movies not just as a way of escapism but for inspiration as well.

If nothing else the cinematic mirror can be a helpful -- even harmless -- distraction. The value of taking breaks and pacing yourself so as not to create burn-out in you is important. Think of the routine before an airline flight takes off. We are reminded that in the event of the cabin experiencing a depression in air pressure and oxygen masks are released, that before you attend to a child you may be traveling with, you make sure to take care of your own needs.

So post-looking after others, if you can allow yourself reflective time, when passive viewing is called for and a movie fits the bill, here are a few suggestions for some 'theratainment.' Intended to pique your interest without giving away too much of the plot. These portrayals of 'grace under fire' designed to help shepherd you through and potentially provide guidance on how to take vulnerable times in stride.

Disclaimer: 'theratainment' is meant to be light-hearted and inspirational, more than anything else, but shouldn't be confused with the hard work of face-to-face therapy. This blog is intended to be therapeutic; at best surely not a substitute for the nitty-gritty nature of therapy particularly if you, or someone you know, are feeling suicidal or abuse is the problem. If you, or someone else, is in trouble this alone is not enough. Reaching out to make a connection with a mental health professional is advised.

There are too many films to mention, so here are some more recent movies that can definitely be seen as moving, constructive and even corrective:

LOVE ACTUALLY (2003) - Hard to believe that this movie came out over 10 years ago. This movie was a much welcome film after the tragedies of 9/11. While some silly scenes are also included in this film, the different stories interspersed throughout, exhibit the varied ways in which people can care for one another. The heart-warming scenes where family members and friends alike greet each other at the airport and where Hugh Grant, who narrates and stars in the film, affirms that "love actually is all around us" is a wonderful affirmation.

THE PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS (2006) - There are times when movies based out of true stories can be difficult to watch. Other times, they can be seen as uplifting to see. Will Smith the lead, plays a salesman who looses everything including his wife, job, and home. He and his son are homeless. He obtains an unpaid internship and in the end, gets hired on as a stockbroker. It's an emotional movie about the struggles he goes through and yet a lovely depiction of what occurs with perseverance and resiliency.

ABOUT TIME (2013) - Although this movie is about time travel and it is intertwined with some comedy, it is also very motivational. At the core of it, is a beautiful life's lesson about family and making moments count and living as fully as you possibly can without any regrets.

THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY (2013) - Ben Stiller is the main character who plays a dreamer and one who hasn't taken many risks or actualized much of what he has dreamed. For those who have yet to see this film, it may feel heavy at times. It can be said that it is truly inspiring to see the direction Ben Stiller's character takes. It's a lovely rendition about maximizing your potential, exhibited by way of the exhilarating backdrop of Iceland (fiercely beautiful in and of itself).

Hardly a day goes by when we are not inundated with bad news, unwanted or unwarranted transitions. It can be difficult to consider that there are still things that we can be grateful for. So for this year, let the challenge be this: Find something to be inspired about while allowing ourselves to find the gratitude in our lives.