How to be Human is written from Ruby Wax’s take on the world and what goes on in her brain. Featured throughout the book are conversations with the Neuroscientist Ashish Ranpura and the Monk Gelong Thubten, sharing their insight and wisdom drawn from their own experiences and expertise. This seemingly unlikely combination actually makes for a fascinating three-way discussion.
The book covers a wide range of topics ranging from our thoughts and feelings to our body; compassion, relationships, addiction and the future. In true Ruby Wax style, there is also a chapter on sex that has Ruby asking Thubten when was the last time he had sex? The monk’s reply of ‘25 years ago’ is then followed by two whole blank pages with Ruby concluding at the end of the third page, “well that about covers it”. So, there is insight, humour, self-reflection and honesty throughout this book that provides the reader with opportunity to delve into the mind of Ruby with interesting perspectives from the monk and the neuroscientist.
There is a whole section on mindfulness which includes exercises that link to each of the chapter themes and each exercise finishes with a story from Ruby’s life. The final chapter is on forgiveness, which interestingly is what she feels is the most difficult of all human traits to master.
I found the neuroscience content particularly helpful and it is presented in such a way that it is accessible and clear rather than being heavy and clinical which can sometimes be the case with this subject. And having this aspect alongside, what I want to call the ‘general public’, but really do need to say that with tongue in cheek with it being Ruby Wax, and the third aspect of a mindfulness approach really does makes this book a different, yet engaging and entertaining read.
Listen to Ruby talk more about the book here.