Everyday philosophy, Good Reads, Slow Thinking

»Sane new world« – Surviving the digital age with Ruby Wax’s british humour and neuroplasticity

2 min read

Who would have guessed there would come a time when books about madness would sell like hotcakes?

It’s a phenomenon that has been fascinating me for quite some time now: books about depression, mental health and mindfulness – suddenly they are everywhere. Let it be Mark Williams, Matt Haig, David Adam, Ruby Wax or even John Green; let them tell their stories from a scientific or personal view or even as a novel. Everyone is talking crazy today. And rave reviews show as as well as the sales figures: people love it.
Why? Maybe because some famous people seem more human and less enviable that way. But probably even more because they themselves can relate to those topics. No wonder: Why should everyone feel relaxed from head to toe in this frenetic world?

Who says talking about loosing it couldn’t be funny? Digging deeper into the subject with the wit and wisdom of Ruby Wax

While I don’t know any more why the title “Sane new world” was exactly the one that got into my hands (maybe because it doesn’t look like one of those sad “self-help-books”…), I do know that I liked it from the first sentence: “This book is dedicated to my mind, which at one point left town, and the rest of humanity, who perhaps at one time or another might have displaced theirs”. What a warm hearted and funny way to jump into the topic. I was intrigued.

Though less familiar in Germany, Ruby Wax is a big name in the UK, where she made a career  as a comedian in the 1990s and became famous for her interview shows for the BBC. But while she was entertaining and funny to the outside world, behind her private curtains she suffered from severe depression. After finally having a complete breakdown, she decided to look deeper into what was driving her crazy. More specifically: went to Oxford to study neuroscience and to understand the human brain.

Who would have thought we could change our brain just by ourselves? One may introduce: neuroplasticity

Besides Ruby’s unique humour and her brutal honesty about her own story it’s the scientific part that makes the book so interesting. Particularly when she talks  – in the context of mindfulness as a way of healing – about how we can influence the way we are thinking and the term neuroplasticity.

Neuroplasticity is the ability of our brain to change through everything we learn and experience. In dramatic contrast to what science believed until about 15 years ago, we are not “gene-wise hard-wired and imprisoned by our DNA”. We actually and actively can and do change and shape our brain – at every age, with every activity we undertake, by every sound, touch, taste or feeling.

Who says crazy peoples advice is only for crazy people? This book is for everyone.

So this is not just good news for those who feel like their brain actually needs to be put in better shape again. It’s also fascinating news for curious lifelong learners. Anyway the whole book is not just for those who want to tame their troubled mind through practicing mindfulness in times when we are “slaves to our own busyness”. It’s a terribly honest, smart and funny book for everyone with an interest in how our head works and how we find some peace in our fast paced world.