ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Five Inspirational YouTube Videos That Might Change Your Life

Updated on April 18, 2015
"Play" part of the YouTube trademark.
"Play" part of the YouTube trademark.
YouTube's early headquarters in San Mateo.
YouTube's early headquarters in San Mateo.

I remember a Roger Ebert film review where he said that rarely does a racist watch a film and have it change their mind.

Perhaps it is possible - when “Giant” came out in 1956 its story-line of a Texan man falling in love with a Mexican woman and its changing his father’s mind is quite potent stuff.

But “Showboat” had a story-line of miscegenation and the suffering of African Americans as early as 1927.

So nothing will work every time or rarely will things work quickly.

This being said, in the present overflow of articles and videos on the world wide web there are many that have touched me deeply or changed my mind about things.

People who are good overall most often try to be good and bad or so-called bad people do likewise, but some issues we remain ignorant of, and even the kindest people need reminders as well as examples that show, amongst the violence of nature and society, that others care.

Also, the web is wonderful for bringing together creative people and examples of creativity like never before, for enlivening the imagination and finding new ways to get inspired.

In this way, there are many great resources for people who are in pain, but I have not focussed (directly) on pain or suicide prevention here, but like any deeply interesting video, of which these are among my favourites as well as what I would regard to be the best, the themes of pain and living life well, as well as being creative and staying creative, are in some way at the heart of all of them.

Without any further ado, here are five YouTube videos that have greatly inspired me:

Everyone’s A Little Bit Racist - Avenue Q

Being a white man brought up in a lower-middle class family that worked its way to upper class - or just by being alive - conversations about race and racism or any other isms can be minefields fraught with dangerous moments and potential regrets.

Certainly, the trolls of the world - both online and off - have not helped the situation one iota.

Occasionally people find ways to make you feel a little better amid all the noise and negativity (or awkward striving) and perhaps to make you act a little better as well.

The take-away message from this clip, from the great musical "Avenue Q", is that while stereotypes might be born from facts in certain scenarios (and true facts ought never to be ignored), whoever you meet in life deserves to live free from presumptions (even if they have acted a certain way, perhaps a bad way when you've first met them or at a certain time in their life).

We are all climbing a hill and each of us has varied sides to our personalities and countless experiences that have informed our lives - often bad ones.

Ellen's message of "Be kind to each other" is something to bear in mind every day, and if we hate others for presumptions or vitriol or bad conduct, sometimes it is relevant to look at our own conduct and prejudices as well. I am not saying that every situation asks for us to "turn the other cheek", but there is a great deal of truth in the saying that "let he who is without sin cast the first stone."

The Most Astounding Fact - Neil deGrasse Tyson

Certainty in anything - even at its extreme end, in facts - can be elusive.

Mathematics and many scientific principles are sound, kindness is born of the spirit of "do unto others", but so much of life exists in uncertainty.

Sometimes, when we are working very hard or distracted by the day to day responsibilities of life, we forget that, as astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson observes in this clip - and his predecessor Carl Sagan observed before him - we are all "made of star stuff."

Everything living on the Earth exists from atoms born out of the Big Bang and the formations of the Universe's billions of stars since. When our bodies die our atoms rejoin the soil and life-forms on the planet and will be a part of the life that is to come both on the planet and off.

It is an unbelievable fact that we are alive and that we owe our cells and our existence to stars born billions (and billions, as Sagan would say) of years ago. Life is often troubling and disappointing, but there is something eternally stunning in the fact of existence itself.

Christopher Hitchens vs. Tony Blair Religion and God Debate

I have written about Christopher Hitchens elsewhere and will likely write about him again.

If the song from "Avenue Q" above demonstrates the power of YouTube bringing on-stage musicals to a wider audience - and "The Most Astounding Fact" the democratisation of video and words and their use creatively online - this shows the power and merits of bringing free debate to the masses.

Blair's arguments are in my view not as strong as Hitchens' - Hitchens had a well-deserved reputation for winning most if not all of the debates he was in - but this shows the nature of democracy in the West today and the fact that most people can explore any ideas they like on the web and make up their own minds.

It is unlikely to be Hitchens' best performance given the frequency with which he debated, but no one has spoken with such cogency and force and detail about such a wide variety of subjects, and here he tackles the wider themes and intimate details of the biggest subjects of all.

Too Many Cooks - Adult Swim

Adult Swim is known for its peculiar videos, and this is one of their strangest - an epic that transcends expectations of what an online video can be.

Just when you think all ideas are exhausted, the filmmakers take the video on a strange new unexpected course, and at heart make you think differently about the nature of videos, sitcoms and what viewers expect from YouTube.

Most videographers on sharing sites try to make a viral video, but the makers of "Too Many Cooks" wanted to challenge notions of society at large and to explore every conceivable angle on a topic. This took many months to make, and it shows that with the will and a little know-how anyone can make a video worth sharing with a global audience via YouTube.

Earthlings - Full length documentary

It is not difficult to understand why some people, if not most people, avoid watching the suffering of nonhuman animals - whether in nature or by the hands of man, most people it would seem are more comfortable (or less uncomfortable) watching the suffering of people than other species.

(Michael Moore observed that he received many complaints regarding violence in his documentary film "Roger & Me" - about the skinning of a rabbit, and not the shooting of a man moments before.)

But "Earthlings" documents the suffering that people are causing.

I know countless people that have stopped buying leather shoes and bought nonleather options instead, people that now buy rice and coconut and soy milk instead of dairy, people that no longer go to circuses with performing tigers and monkeys, and others that seek to stop various forms of nonhuman animal suffering around the world.

The truth is the truth, and some people persuade themselves that they are all right causing suffering because of products or foods that they have grown accustomed to buying, both because they like them or because many or in some situations most other people around them are buying them.

Suffering is a terrible thing though, and its objects deserve our paying attention to them (regardless of species), watching what is taking place around the world and seeking the truth, perhaps changing the way we behave in the world.

If "Earthlings" is too tough I also recommend the documentaries "Cowspiracy" (about the environment) and "Forks Over Knives" (about health), which are not on YouTube, but sections of these films and discussions about them are.

BONUS #6: Alan Watts - Becoming Nothing

This clip is my favourite on YouTube. It takes the idea of democratisation on the web further - what more do you need apart from beautiful music and images and some insightful words to make a meaningful video?

Anyone with access to the simplest camera and a computer can make a clip like this, and brighten someone's day on another part of the planet, or make them think differently about their deepest fears or philosophical quandaries.

It all comes back to kindness again; there's wisdom in simplicity and amongst all the noise as well as the negativity online there are some truly insightful and beautiful things as well.

YouTube's HQ in San Bruno, California.
YouTube's HQ in San Bruno, California.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • NonCopyBook profile imageAUTHOR

      Nicholas Daly 

      5 years ago from NSW Australia

      FlourishAnyway - agree!

    • FlourishAnyway profile image


      5 years ago from USA

      That Avenue Q/everyone is a little bit racist video was awesome.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)