Sane New World – Ruby Wax

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Published June 2013 by Hodder & Stoughton
Full title: Sane New World: Taming the Mind
Author: Ruby Wax
Genre: Non-fiction, mental health
Pages: 260
Star rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Opening line:

“This book is dedicated to my mind, which at one point left town, and to the rest of humanity, who perhaps at one time or another might have misplaced theirs.”

Goodreads synopsis:

Comedian, writer and mental health campaigner shows us why and how our minds can send us mad and how we can rewire our thinking, especially through mindfulness, to calm ourselves in a frenetic world. Ruby Wax – comedian, writer and mental health campaigner – shows us how our minds can jeopardize our sanity. With her own periods of depression and now a Masters from Oxford in Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy to draw from, she explains how our busy, chattering, self-critical thoughts drive us to anxiety and stress. If we are to break the cycle, we need to understand how our brains work, rewire our thinking and find calm in a frenetic world. Helping you become the master, not the slave, of your mind, here is the manual to saner living.

My review

This is the book I probably should have read before Frazzled, but it just turns out that I bought this one long after first hearing about it. This book came on my radar about the same time that I really started getting into mindfulness and thinking more about mental health in the modern world.

Sane New World helps us to put our mental capacity in perspective, by discussing society and the inner workings of the brain side by side to drive home the point that our brains just aren’t made for the stress and workloads that we have in the present day.

Wax is an advocate of mindfulness, and makes the point that practicing mindfulness can lead to changes in the chemicals in our brains, leading to less stress and anxiety. Frazzled concentrated more on the mindfulness stuff, but this one goes in depth to explain the mind and what goes on inside it, then offers ways to improve our mental health.

In her own words, this book is more of a manual on how to cope in the modern day, when your brain goes into overdrive. Wax is knowledgeable and had a Masters degree to prove it, but the way she explains the science-y bits is a mix of humour and facts. The brain is a lot easier to understand in a book like this than one you might get given in school. She only tells us about the things we really need to know about.

She also intervenes with stories from her own life, to demonstrate a real-life experience of what she is discussing. There are a few illustrations that are easy to understand, and comical in their own way. The book is packed with facts, and will actually make YOU feel like an expert after you’ve finished reading it.

“Many of us suffer from the pressure in today’s world that drive us from burnout to depression.”

The last third of the book includes a multitude of exercises that you can do in various situations to help with ‘taming your mind’. These are useful and clear on the page, so you can flick through and find them quite easily whenever you need.

There are also sections named ‘Mindfulness and…’ which takes us through ways in which mindfulness can help with different areas of life, or different feelings that we have on a regular basis.

The book is valuable to anyone who wants to learn more about the brain, more about the changes which occur in the brain due to mental health, what we can do to ‘tame’ it. I raced through it, because it’s a learning experience and I was on a quest for knowledge on this subject, and Ruby Wax gave me everything I could have wanted, all contained in one book.

Link to the book on Goodreads: Sane New World

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