About the Book
It took us 4 billion years to evolve to where we are now. No question, anyone reading this has won the evolutionary Hunger Games by the fact you’re on all twos and not some fossil. This should make us all the happiest species alive – most of us aren’t, what’s gone wrong? We’ve started treating ourselves more like machines and less like humans. We’re so used to upgrading things like our iPhones: as soon as the new one comes out, we don’t think twice, we dump it. (Many people I know are now on iWife4 or iHusband8, the motto being, if it’s new, it’s better.)
We can’t stop the future from arriving, no matter what drugs we’re on. But even if nearly every part of us becomes robotic, we’ll still, fingers crossed, have our minds, which, hopefully, we’ll be able use for things like compassion, rather than chasing what’s ‘better’, and if we can do that we’re on the yellow brick road to happiness.
I wrote this book with a little help from a monk, who explains how the mind works, and also gives some mindfulness exercises, and a neuroscientist who explains what makes us ‘us’ in the brain. We answer every question you’ve ever had about: evolution, thoughts, emotions, the body, addictions, relationships, kids, the future and compassion. How to be Human is extremely funny, true and the only manual you’ll need to help you upgrade your mind as much as you’ve upgraded your iPhone.
I’ve had this book on my TBR for quite a while now so I added it to my non-fiction November TBR and wanted to make sure I got to it this month. I actually ended up reading it in one sitting yesterday afternoon!
How to be Human is a really honest look at how the stress in our lives affects us and what we can do about it. Ruby Wax has written this book in conjunction with a neuroscientist and a monk so it really does give a really good perspective on how we can better understand and help ourselves.
The book is set out in chapters each covering a different topic from relationships to parenthood to forgiveness. We get an overview of the topic from Ruby and then a few pages of Ruby, the monk and the neuroscientist discussing the issue. These conversations are both funny and helpful, which I liked. It’s nice to read a book that has light-hearted take on a serious issue as it makes it easier to take in the information, especially if you’re struggling with your mental health at the time.
At the end of each chapter Ruby Wax refers you to chapter 11 where you get a whole corresponding section with various mindfulness and mediation exercises to help you with the thing you’re struggling with.
I’m going to be honest and say that I didn’t get as much out of this book as I’d hoped but that could be because I’m in a good mental health place these days and I’ve already discovered the huge benefits of regular mindfulness. I will say that the exercises in the back of the book are excellent – a lot of them are already a part of my daily mediation routine and I highly recommend them. Some are things you can do in the time it takes you to brush your teeth on a morning, and others requite a little longer but all will benefit your state of mind in time.
The chapter that I did find really helpful was the one at the end on forgiveness. Ruby Wax alludes to an awful relationship with her mother earlier in the book and in the forgiveness chapter she discovers more about her family in past generations. This journey and the subsequent conversation with the monk and the neuroscientist were illuminating for me. I struggle with forgiveness when someone has done something truly despicable but this book reminded me again that sometimes you have to forgive for your own sake but that doesn’t mean you have to have a relationship with the person who hurt you, or even tell them they’re forgiven. It’s an important reminder, and one we perhaps all need from time to time.
I would definitely recommend How to be Human particularly if you’re struggling with your mental health a little bit and want some really easy to follow guidance on why mindfulness can help and how to go about learning to do it.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher. All thoughts are my own.
How to be human is out now and available here.
10 thoughts on “How to be Human: The Manual by Ruby Wax with a Neuroscientist and a Monk #NonFiction #NonFictionNovember”
Interesting, I wonder if she’s got a bit kinder in her writing since she did A Mindfulness Guide for the Frazzled. Have you read that? Someone commented on my review of Frazzled that this one was much better and I hope so (my review here https://librofulltime.wordpress.com/2018/03/12/book-review-ruby-wax-a-mindfulness-guide-for-the-frazzled/ if you’re interested). If this is good, I might buy it for my husband, as he’s exploring mindfulness at the moment. I’m lucky to get huge wodges of it on my runs, even with others, noticing all the sights, sounds, smells etc as we go.
I hope your own mental health improves soon Hayley. Hopefully you have some sunshine where you are today. I find that helps.
Sounds like this might be useful for me at the moment. Finding it very hard to forgive and tone down my anger.
Not my kinda read… I am awed by your review. I never know how to review non fiction
This does sound interesting, any strategies for dealing with forgiveness and anger can be useful, if not for oneself even just in considering how others approach them. I’m hesitant because I always shy away from things with a self-help tone and prefer it’s a little more scientific, it sounds like this one is a bit of a mix? Thanks for the introduction to it!
I really like approach in this book. Learning to cope with stress, let go, and grow is so important. And I like the positive (if that’s the word) approach. Sounds like something we could all benefit from thinking about, really.
I’ve seen How to be Human around but didn’t know what it was about. I guess I was always too busy to take a look – that says a lot about the stress in our lives. We all need to let go of certain negative emotions and stress. Thanks for sharing this!
I like the sound of this one – and given I definitely need to continue working on my own Mindfulness and work/life balance, it might be one to get hold of. Thank you for a really well written, useful review, Hayley:)
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