Russell Brand has been a bit of a handful in the past - anarchic comedian, political activist, ex-addict of booze, drugs and sex - but today he is upbeat and, well, happier than he has seemed in a long time.

Marriage - to Laura Gallacher (sister of TV sports presenter Kirsty and daughter of golfer Bernard) - is obviously suiting him well, and he is loving fatherhood (he and Laura have an 11-month-old daughter, Mabel).

"Fatherhood has changed me because I've got this whole new person in my life that I'm completely in love with, two people that I'm completely in love with, in fact, three including me - it's a good thing I put myself last," he says dryly.

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Last time we met, Brand didn't seem quite so happy. He had divorced his first wife, singer Katie Perry, had reportedly been in an on-off relationship with Jemima Khan and was promoting his 2014 book Revolution - a rant calling for a global revolution involving radical wealth redistribution and spiritualism, squeezing all his meanderings about celebrity, politics and corruption in between.

Today, he seems in a calmer and more positive place as he discusses his latest book, Recovery, a self-help guide which follows the 12 Step program he applied to his own drugs and alcohol addiction, but which he says can actually help in all aspects of life, whatever your issue, from relationship problems to just simply seeking changes that'll make you happier.

Brand, who has been drug-free for 14 years, explains: "My relationships with other people can be problematic and the 12 Steps tool helps you to deal with people and with yourself. Everyone's got to deal with the problem, whether it's heroin or food or gambling, or you're in a job or relationship that you don't really like."

He's self-deprecating and funny in the book, admitting his own numerous flaws and weaknesses, and recounting incidents when he behaved like an indulgent, spoilt brat, as he tries to guide the reader on the path to happiness.

But there's a chapter towards the end in which he writes movingly and poignantly about the birth of his daughter, which shows a different side to this often disarming character.

"Little Mabes was born when I was in the middle of writing the book, so it was obviously a vivid experience. I got into a position psychologically and emotionally because of this program, so that it was possible that the best thing in the world could happen to me - and that was becoming a father."

He says he feels more settled with a family.

"Well, I feel better than I ever have done. I have my moments, but generally speaking, I feel very connected with who I am and very grateful. I really love my wife and I love my daughter and I love my friends. There's a lot of love in my life. My life is defined mostly by love, whereas a lot of times, my life has been defined by anger and self-pity."

So, has he mellowed?

"People change over time but I still have quite a lot of passion. The family is because of the program, the mellowing is because of the program, the loving myself is because of the program.

"I've long wanted to know for a fact that I'm not the most important person in the world, and to see that, that's a beautiful thing, not a terrifying thing."

The madcap comedic thoughts are never far from his stream of consciousness, although he practices Transcendental Meditation every day, as well as praying, which perhaps help him reach a place of calm.

But there's still the wild, can't-sit-still side of the outspoken comedian, as he continues his mammoth stand-up tour Re: Birth, taking Laura and Mabel with him.

"We go on the road like travellers," he enthuses. "The baby comes, Laura comes. We are all jammed up in the car with saucepans, like The Beverly Hillbillies. There's stuff clattering up on the roof, the dog's barking, it's mental.

"Laura's a very compassionate woman, I mean she'd have to be, wouldn't she?" he continues. "She's got a hell of a halo around her head."

He's already completed one leg of the tour in the UK and has recently been in the US with the family. He says the situation is better than it used to be after shows.

"I still really love comedy. I've just calmed down now by changing nappies and staring at one person. Nowadays, I come off stage and I go home to my wife and baby or back to a hotel with them - and my dog, if we're in the UK.

"In the old days, I used to go crawling though the night, like a vampire trundling down from his castle looking for the villagers."

He admits in the book that he has many flaws. What's his greatest one?

"A tendency to return to a selfish perspective if I don't keep an eye on myself. If I don't work this program, I start caring only about the way that I feel and what I want very quickly."

Steps eight and nine, he points out, deal with identifying when you've done something wrong and making amends by apologising. He also advises readers to make a list of people they have harmed.

"Mine was like a bible, or the Yellow Pages." He says he took advice on the most appropriate way to make amends, unless to do so would injure the person or others.

"It has to be appropriate. You don't knock on someone's front door and say, 'Is your wife in, because I was having an affair with her and I just want to apologise?'

"The list is all done! I don't have regrets. You accept that you are the person that you are and your experiences made you what you are. Regret is like wanting something that can never happen - the past can't change."

  • Recovery: Freedom From Our Addictions by Russell Brand is published by Bluebird, priced £20. Available now.