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'It's like a sun behind the clouds' - How Ruby Wax stays positive, and why you should too

US comedian, performer and best-selling author Ruby Wax is on a mission to improve people's menta...
Jack Quann
Jack Quann

21.12 9 Oct 2020


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'It's like a sun behind the cl...

'It's like a sun behind the clouds' - How Ruby Wax stays positive, and why you should too

Jack Quann
Jack Quann

21.12 9 Oct 2020


Share this article


US comedian, performer and best-selling author Ruby Wax is on a mission to improve people's mental health.

Her new book is taking a look at the better side of the world.

She described 'And Now For The Good News: To The Future With Love' as "a Michelin guide" to positivity.

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She told The Hard Shoulder: "I'm not using the word 'fine' anymore, I think it's a cliché."

"It took me three years and I finished the night of lockdown.

"I wrote it because - let us remember: before the pandemic, we always were bombarded with bad news - this isn't a new phenomenon.

"So when one disaster was over, another wave would hit - and I thought where we put our attention, kind of defines our world view and who we are.

"So I thought 'Ruby, shift your attention' and I kind of went around the globe to find out where there were pockets of people - I call them the green shoots - reinventing things like education so our kids don't burn out, business working as a unit with purpose rather than just profit, education where they teach empathy, tech where it's working for humanity rather than sucking our information and selling us stuff, and community and health.

"And these are no small groups here, these are real world changers.

"So that made me very happy for the last three years".

"And it's all about community, every single section - from education to business to tech - is about working in community.

"The way we're going to survive is by working together, it's not each man for himself anymore: that didn't work".

She said the world has changed, but our reactions have not.

"So many things we have now really worked for us in the past, for example stress: we needed that in case we were attached by a predator [and] we had to take him on or get out of there - but then it always calmed down.

"That bubbling stress would calm down, usually because we'd all sit around the fire and have each other's backs."

'We look for the bad news'

"But on the other hand, because of the way the world was and the sake of our survival we had to always be on our toes - to be able to tell 'Is it a snake, is it a stick?'

"Like any animal we have to kind of look for the bad news: 'What's going to help us survive?'

"That is sort of inbred in our DNA: if you're happy, your memory doesn't really remember but bad news means 'What happened last time I did this?'

"Out of five thoughts somebody said four are negative - don't blame yourself, that's human nature.

"We're velcro for bad news, and teflon for positive news.

"So we have a proclivity to that, but humans also have a higher brain which we can train... we understand now that if we work together, compassion starts to pour out.

"So we can intentionally start to go towards those things".

'Changing the paradigm'

She said one such positive example are schools in the UK, known as REAch2.

"They're in really disadvantaged neighbourhoods, seriously damaged neigbourhoods, where the teachers are now teaching these kids empathy.

"And they're teaching them that there's no such thing as a stupid question - which would have made me flourish - so there's no low self-esteem.

"These are really revered as the creative thinkers".

"You really can see, when you start to look, people trying to change the paradigm."

"And I'll tell you something: in a few years there will be an app - cause I think millennials have had it - that they can tell if the product they're buying was made by a woman in China who got arthritis from sowing together their running shoes."

"So I could see that happening - it behooves business to work for the good, and also it makes them work better and harder".

"We have a tendency to go to the bad - nobody gets addicted to kale - but we are also smart enough to be able now to say 'OK, what's going to make the world improve?'

"We might ignore it and we might go to hell, but all I did with this book is to say there are people working on it.

"And just knowing they're there, and they will be there when this pandemic is over, it's like there's a sun behind the clouds for me".

Asked if her book is more important now than before the pandemic, she said: "Well now we're in the full World War Three, but remember we were lonely before the pandemic.

"We were frightened of uncertainty before the pandemic, now... I think maybe nature said 'Screw it, I've had enough'.

"Now you really need to know what's going on in the world that may, if we take our focus to it and nurture it, turn to the positive.

"There are schools now where you can send your kid, and they won't break their spirit.

"You just have to find them, there's a lot, and there's some in Ireland too".

'Stressed about stress'

"The world is better than it ever was, but there's a new phenomenon, and it's called frazzled.

"Frazzled is a neurobiological word - it's not stress, it's not anxiety - that's in the human palette.

"This frazzled thing is where we're getting stressed about stress, we're getting these thought things that say 'You're not good enough, you're a failure' - that is because of social media.

"That is because we're bombarded with bad news - but rather than blame it and sit there and go 'Well, I can't do anything about it', we can and this book shows that you can.

"If you focus on it and you want it, you'll go get it - if you want to roll your eyes and say 'The world's never going to change' don't buy my book", she said.

"If you do things that are kind, it's actually good for your health.

"So these things aren't too far away - if you need help, then hopefully there's enough kind people that will help you".

'It's like a sun behind the clouds' - How Ruby Wax stays positive, and why you should too

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Main image: American comedian and writer Ruby Wax at the 2013 Edinburgh International Book Festival. Picture by: DPA/DPA/PA Images

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And Now For The Good News: To The Future With Love Frazzled Mental Health Positivity Ruby Wax Stressed About Stress The Hard Shoulder

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