Comedian Pete Holmes on depression and negative emotion | Big Think


Everyone’s experience with depression is different,
but for comedian Pete Holmes the key to living
with depression has been to observe his own thoughts in an impartial way. Holmes’ method, taught to him by psychologist
and spiritual leader Ram Dass, is to connect to his base consciousness and think about
himself and his emotions in the third person. You
can’t push depression away, but
you can shift
your mindset to help better cope with depression, anxiety, and negative emotions. If you feel depressed, you
can connect with
a crisis counselor anytime in the US.

32 thoughts on “Comedian Pete Holmes on depression and negative emotion | Big Think

  1. wow he explained these ideas in a very easy to understand way. i’ve heard what he’s trying to say a million times in eastern spirituality and books like the power of now, but he explained it in a way that made me understand a little more.

  2. You should be so lucky to be an active artist, and also be able to implement these tools of awareness in daily life…. Go Pete!

  3. I literally don’t understand depression. I didn’t believe that it existed at 1st but from the huge amounts of people that complain about depression it became alarming and wanted to learn and understand more of it . My only thing is what if it’s the doctors creating the depression effects ; kinda like a placebo effect of depression and maybe the pills make it worse or even real .

  4. I am 54 and have lived with clinical depression all of my life. It has impeded everything. What helped me immensely was learning philosophy, but there is a personality trait of philosophers which I have, while others may have no interest. Philosophy has helped me learn to check my premises and eliminate cognitive contradictions. Cognitive contradictions cause anxiety through the hypothalamic pituitary adrenal axis in the brain. This creates anxiety and neurosis.

    I also have learned to live in the moment after being homeless in India. This is now a normal state of mind for me. If one allows themselves to ruminate in the past or fantasize about the future, one is projecting their consciousness outside of the present moment.

    Setting the philosophy aside, I also spent a great deal of time studying neuroscience. This has allowed me to connect what I am feeling to brain activity. Now my thoughts and feelings aren't intrusive mysteries. I also take three different medications at the minimal effective dose. However, there remains a persistent component, like a hand holding me back wherein simple tasks like, bathing, preparing meals, doing laundry feels overwhelming, but I rarely have the self-loathing and or suicidal thoughts due to my medications.

    Robert Sapolsky makes a good point about depression. When people get cancer or another terminal disease they often remark how it has changed their life for the better. Depression does exactly the opposite, and in that it may be one of the worst diseases humans face. People with serious illnesses fight to live while depression invites death to relieve it's exquisite pain.

  5. I love you Pete for your openness and honesty. Loved your book too! Your journey has enlightened me in so many ways.

  6. Hey, Pete! You rock! Thanks for this. It makes sense (sometimes) when I can find that neutral place. It’s hard because life moves a million miles an hour. Your videos are beautiful.

  7. This is really cool. But, who speaks on the behalf of this neutral observer/consciousness? If it is the neutrality speaking from it essence, how would it be able to describe itself, if it is completely neutral? This is the first option. The second option is that we lend our voice to the neutral observer. But how can we then prove, that it exists on its own if it cannot make an appearance of its own? How can we prove that this quiet place is not merely an element of our story – our ego? This does make sense, because you can apply something, that is believed to be a fundamental principle of existence – thus not requiring any further or external evidence to prove its existence – to everyone.
    I adore the idea and I believe anyone can make it work. Then you might say, if it is efficient, why does it matter, where it comes from? I don't think it does, if we manage to conceal it so cunningly. I just had a thought. You know, what if we as conscious beings don't extend so far as we do by this explanation? What if this is simply our little bubble and we haven't tapped into something eternally redeeming? This is our default and outside of it there is a way to percieve ourselves and everything else that is to us completely inconceivable. I understand there is no utility to this – at least not one I could think of.
    I just had a thought.

  8. Thank you for this Pete Holmes. I appreciate the sincerity with which he talks about depression. This is a very good take on mental health that I think should be heard. Love you Pete!

  9. He is really right. In all honesty, you can have the best therapists, friends, and parents to help you get out of your depression. But at best they can only do half the battle for you.

  10. "Cancel everything you're doing today, it's time to take a sad-shower.." lol really just me when Im too lazy to make a bath and want to waste more running water

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