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WISE WORDS: Bill Bailey On Why You Have To Find The Power To Say No

We spoke to the comedian, musician, actor, TV and radio presenter and author.

09/08/2016 16:05 | Updated 11 August 2016

For the latest in our WISE WORDS interview series - where stars from a whole range of fields share the important life lessons they’ve learned along the way - we’re posing some of the big questions to comedian BILL BAILEY. 

Bill Bailey has been considered one of our very top comics over the past 15 years, in frequent demand as a TV and radio panelist, besides his stand-up routine. He also starred in ‘Black Books’. 

In 2010, he was voted the 7th greatest stand-up comic on Channel 4’s 100 Greatest Stand-Ups. Today, he’s on duty as an ambassador for Sony Playstation, and talks to HuffPostUK about some of the hardest lessons he’s had to learn along the way, and also considers life’s simple pleasures...

Matthew Baker via Getty Images
Bill Bailey has been regularly voted as one of our very top comics, but his talents stretch to other fields

What do you do to switch off from the world?
I do stand-up paddle boarding. It’s a sport and a pastime. I got into it a fair while ago and now I try to do it as often as possible, wherever I can find flat water. It’s tough, physical and you have to concentrate to stay upright, so it stops you thinking about other things. 

How do you deal with negativity?
You have to talk about it. If you pretend something hasn’t affected you, it will find a way of weeding its way into your mind. Bring it out into the open, kick it about a bit, confront it. 

When and where are you happiest?
On a family holiday in the Lakes, camping, sitting around a fire, toasting marshmallows. It’s a cliche, but it’s the simple stuff. 

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Not to give up, but to find the power to stay with something. It applies to all aspects of my life. People give up too easily, you have to commit.

What has been the hardest lesson you’ve learned?
Not to overstretch myself. I find it hard to say no, but you have to find it in you, as saying yes to too many things can be counter-productive. You can’t please everyone. 

What would you tell your 13-year-old self?
Have fun. Don’t worry. It will be all right. 

What 3 things are at the top of your to-do list?
Write a serious piece of work, something different from all the comedy;
Write a musical;
Complete a big, physical challenge, some milestone, like paddleboarding around the UK or something on a similar scale. 

What do you think happens when we die?
I think that’s it, but the energy you expand in life can continue to affect everyone and everything around you. All of that influence can carry on, it’s a legacy.

When do you feel a sense that we live in the presence of something bigger than ourselves?
In places of great beauty. I visited the Alps a year ago, saw a red bird of paradise, and then a blue whale. It’s moments like that stay with you. 

What do you try to bring to your relationships?
Kindness, and I believe it’s reciprocated if you pay it out. 

What keeps you grounded?
Family, and having good friends. I have lots of friends outside the business, and they become more and more important the older I get. 

What was the last good deed or act of kindness you received?
I was staying at a guesthouse in the Lakes, and a lady came over to tell me, ‘My daughter’s drawn a picture of you.’ She was only about two. It meant a lot. It didn’t look like me at all, but it’s the thought that counts. 

 

Bill Bailey is working with PlayStation to celebrate the new No Man’s Sky game, out on 10 August.

 

 

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