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on 6 July 2013
Brilliant Book. I read it with Ruby's voice in my head which made it easy and amusing. I wish she had written this book when I was 14, it would have saved me years of heart/head ache.. A must read for those who want to find out more about themselves and those around them. Thank you Ms Wax, I am only sorry that you had to suffer first in order to get tothis point in your life...
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on 20 September 2014
I wish I'd known ages ago that with simple training you can change how you feel by changing your thoughts which changes your brain physiology and anatomy. She backs it up with empirical evidence based in science and research.

What I love about the techniques is that you're not trying to overrule or change unwanted or negative thought patterns (think positive!...yeah, like that's possible if you're feeling traumatised, stressed or depressed, and she proves why it isn't possible to tackle it that way as well). It's done using simple awareness and focussing exercises. Sounds too easy doesn't it? well it is easy and I'm personally flabbergasted at the amazing results I've experienced already.

Like a lot of people I've tried various self help books and manuals and had counselling for my issues but none have been as effective as this approach. It's completely changed my perspective on how we tend to view thoughts as the self and defining rather than 'brain events' as she describes.

If you've explored your own issues but still find your mind, thoughts and mood hostage to them then I can't recommend this book highly enough to you. It works and the science backs it up so I guess that's why it works.
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on 7 June 2013
I've read a lot of books about neurology, psychology and psychotherapy. Just put this one down having finished the last page. This one is a bit special because it has been written by someone who writes from the heart, with an honesty that's compelling. It has been said that there is no owner's manual that comes with each brain. This one provides a pretty good idea of what to do if you feel that your own brain is not quite getting you through your life the way you'd like. Highly recommended. I've always liked the author as a comedienne... I like her even better as an author and educator.
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on 13 February 2015
A book of two halves. If you can put up with all the autobiographical stuff (showbiz excesses, maternal deprivation, shopping fixations...) and rather flippant and harsh tone (she makes snide remarks about other celebs and historical figures, doesn't conceal her contempt for anything to do with mysticism or religion and admits to bullying other students on her therapy course) in the first half, it does improve when she gets onto neuroscience and how thoughts affect the structure of the brain. It's particularly good on how the practice of mindfulness can help to deal with depression and negative thinking, and gives us a range of practical techniques we can apply in our daily lives. So if you do buy the book, stick with it!
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on 10 June 2013
What's the one thing we all say when asked what we'd wish ourselves or our children and loved ones? A happy life. This excellent book isn't just for those people with a mental health diagnosis. It's a book for any human being who wants a happier life. A manual for improved life quality - improved thinking, feeling and behaviour. I want to send one each to all our children.

Here's a modified something I wrote on Ruby Wax's website ( today.

"I'm glad the Irish Sane New World Tour went so well. My work hours were reduced from 36 to 12 per week when I had to have time off for an episode and the doctor's certificate showed 'bipolar depression'. That's a 2/3 cut in my salary. We moved area and I now work from home doing something I love. But mental illness can still hit us in the pocket and lower self-esteem further in this way, as you mention in SNW. The law definitely needs changing. We can never have too many people being open and honest about their experiences.

I'm now told by my e-reader I'm at '94 of 150' and thus at Part 4 of Sane New World. Although I took two NHS Mindfulness courses, the brain part was only explained in that we can change our thinking and thus feeling and behaviours. There simply wasn't the budget or time on the NHS to go into that detail and we concentrated on the actual practice.

So, at very long last, someone has explained for me in layman's/Joe Public human terms what scientists and scholars actually know, from all the research we have up to now (and clearly more needs doing), about our brains and minds. I knew Mindfulness was doing me good, making life richer and me more content, but the info in SNW's been a revelation to me. How complex is the brain! No wonder it's taking time to work it all out. And each brain is unique. So Ruby's down-to-earth and often funny and recognisable explanations helped me see why I've been stuck with certain thoughts, beliefs and attitudes for too many years.

I've had to read some parts twice - which gave me priceless ah-ha moments galore - and look up a few words but you've made this topic so accessible for those who want to do something about their mental health/thinking/life problems but may not understand why Mindfulness (and mindfulness-based CBT) is worth learning and practising and sticking at. For ANYone!

One practical course of Mindfulness would be great, if daily practise follows. Doing a course, then forgetting about it probably wouldn't help. A course or other complementary works such as Mindfulness: A practical guide to finding peace in a frantic world by Williams & Penman - based on Kabat-Zinn's work - and then practising daily, begins to pay dividends. I wouldn't be writing this if I doubted it. I don't do many reviews. I have to feel very strongly. And this is fundamental stuff to help with our lives.

Of course there are crappy and traumatic times; Ruby Wax doesn't deny that (especially by being open in the book about her own struggles) - but we can observe those times, thoughts and feelings with mindful practice, and recover in a healthier way than the negative things we often do, beating ourselves up, being unkind to ourselves, overloading ourselves to breaking point, etc. This book has explained to me what's going on; how with Mindfulness I'm rewiring my brain to positive effect. I was honestly at the point where I couldn't afford NOT to.

We are human and fallible. Perfection we can never have but, using your book and the Mindfulness-based options (books/courses/cds and more) out there, we can improve our quality of life. And I think that's the best gift those of use with mental health issues can give ourselves. Thanks for making it all a lot clearer for me. :-)"

I don't always meditate daily (I can manage short ones quite well, even 5 minutes!) but I do try and consciously do a few daily things (washing up, anyone? Walking the dog?) in a mindful way, paying attention. Everyone will have their own preferences.

If you struggle with life, that the habitual negative thoughts you have affect your self-worth/your emotions and feelings/your behaviour and how you live life (anxious/suffering depressive/anxiety symptoms/obsessive thoughts and behaviours) and you sincerely wish to change this, well then, say no more, you are very human and Ruby's written a funny, accessible manual to help.

Life can only improve with this stuff. It *can* be happier if you want. But if your painful comfort-zone is the one you want to keep, you go ahead. You're welcome to it. But don't say I never tipped you the wink! ;-)
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on 19 April 2014
I bought this book as I have an interest into the workings of the mind - as powerful and feeble in equal measure as it can be - and thought that there may be some interesting insights into it in this book (having seen it publicised on The ONE Show recently). I must say that there are some interesting sections and snippets in the book, and found it an interesting read, however I fear that I may know more about the workings of Ruby's mind than my own, as it decends into mini-rants about her past at times; although these are entertaining, and you really can hear her voice as you read! I can't help but feel that if she'd have stuck to the workings, and examples other than her own it would have been a more insightful read. Still, interesting and entertaining none the less - well done Ms Wax, not bad - but feel the publisher could have pointed her into expanding some areas and reducing others to make it a better book.
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on 6 June 2013
this book is a gift to the world. it's a helpful book without being a 'self help book.' funny, insightful and a revelation. it makes the most impossible concepts accessible for everyone and will help anyone understand the intricate workings of the brain and the responses we have to life. a must have for anyone trying to navigate their way through all the madness. major thanks to miss wax...
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on 13 January 2015
I had no concept of who Ruby Wax when I began reading this book. I continue to hear all about the benefits of mindfulness in one’s life and the more I read on the subject, the more convinced I become that it is something I truly need to make a regular part of my daily routine. This book’s description sounded a self-help for depression crossed with advocacy for mindfulness; and so I gave it a try.

I soon realized that Ruby Wax was some sort of comedian. The jokes she inserted into the more serious text of the book weren’t really funny and sometimes added an air of hokiness to an otherwise highly informative read.
Having said that, I did enjoy the very personal experience that Ruby brought to the book. She disclosed very personal insights for the benefit of the reader, and that sort of bravery definitely deserves respect.

All joking aside, the book provides a very solid background and understanding of how the mind works. It offers some very sage advice and makes mindfulness seem very accessible and less new-agey.

I am glad to have read this book and fully intend to follow through with the exercises provided.
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on 3 June 2013
For anyone affected directly or indirectly by mental illness this is a must read. It is the first book that I have read on the subject that clearly explains how to turn around your thought process in laymen's terms. The technical details are explained clearly without being condescending.Sane New World: How to Tame the Mind
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on 23 September 2013
If you've not encountered how mindfulness techniques can help with depression before, this book by Ruby Wax is a good place to start. It explains the concepts simply and wittily, and provides useful exercises at the end to help put the theory into practice.

I found the second chapter - 'For the Normal-Mad' - superfluous (it seemed a case of stating the obvious to me) but still I'd recommend the book overall, especially if you're down. The short chapters make it easy to digest when concentration is poor (often a side effect of depression) and Ruby's willingness to expose her own vulnerabilities makes it feel as if you're in the company of a good friend as you read.

There are, it's true, other more fulsome books on mindfulness out there (I'd recommend 'The Mindful Way through Depression' by Williams, Teasdale, Segal and Kabat-Zinn if it's detail you're after) and there are more searing accounts of going through breakdown too (I'd cite Sally Brampton's 'Shoot The Damn Dog' and Gwynneth Lewis's 'Sunbathing in the Rain' as two of the best I've come across) but they don't detract from this book, which, as a cross between the two genres (part self-help tome, part memoir), aims to do something different.

Moreover, because Ruby Wax is a household name, there's every chance 'Sane New World' will find its way into the hands of people who might not otherwise read about depression, and that can be no bad thing. I have enormous respect for Ruby and admire what she's done (and continues to do) to raise awareness of mental illness. Indeed, as an aside, I'd go so far as to say the programmes she fronted for Channel 4 in 2012 acted as a source of inspiration to me personally. So thank you Ruby, for being brave enough to stand up and be a spokesperson for one in four; 'the Mad-Mad'. That takes even greater courage than stand-up comedy, and I'm sure I'm not alone in being grateful for your bravery.
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