Many know him singularly as a comic actor, but the English author, presenter, activist and recovering addict Russell Brand is also one of the most engaging and intellectual speakers on the human condition.
Watching Brand engage in a philosophical debate with lofty intellectuals, talk show hosts and podcasters is an educational experience. The fact that he has the comedy credentials to offset the academia only adds to the entertainment.
Using his wit and his words, Brand has been able to communicate a powerful message to the world through his latest book, Recovery: Freedom from our Addictions. Here are five pieces of wisdom from the man himself:
1. We live in an age of addictive thinking
“Do you have that sense that something is missing? A feeling in your gut that you’re not good enough? That if you tick off some action, whether it’s eating a Twix, buying some shoes, smoking a joint or getting a good job, you will feel better? If you do, it’s hardly surprising because I believe we live in an age of addiction where addictive thinking has become almost totally immersive. It is the mode of our culture. Consumerism is stimulus and response as a design for life. The very idea that you can somehow make your life all right by attaining primitive material goals – whether it’s getting the ideal relationship, the ideal job, a beautiful Berber rug or forty quids’ worth of smack – the underlying idea, ‘if I could just get X, Y, Z, I would be okay’, is consistent and it is quite wrong.”
2. To justify your misery is to recommit to it
“In justifying our misery, we recommit to it. The odyssey of recovery begins in earnest when we become willing to truly change. Not content to rotate the object of addiction, we become ‘entirely ready for God to remove our defects of character.'”
3. Be free of your desires
“We have been taught that freedom is the freedom to pursue our petty, trivial desires. Real freedom is freedom from our petty, trivial desires.”
4. You are not the centre of the world
“Where I have found [the 12-step] program most rewarding, and yet most challenging, is in the way that it has unravelled my unquestioned faith that I was the centre of the universe, and that the purpose of my life was to fulfil my drives, or if that wasn’t possible, be miserable about it in colourful and creative ways. So whilst this program will work for you regardless of creed or lack of creed, it will also disabuse you of the notion, however conscious of it you are, that you and your drives are the defining motivations for your life. The reason I worked the 12 Steps was because I was desperate. The reason I continue to is because they have awakened me to the impossibility of happiness based on my previous world view: that I am the centre of the world and that what I want is important.”
5. Stuff won’t feed your spirit
“You can never quench your spiritual craving through material means.”