• New Sponsor: ShipNerd, Ship Your Gear with Us... for less! Click Here.

Steve Vai thoughts on ego vs reality (working through depression)

Mark White

Member
Messages
1,311
There is no lack of people and organizations dilligently operating to separate miserable people from any $ they have. Be very careful out there.

Also the opinion of my parents when I revealed to them that I'd been in therapy on and off for 14 years, and firmly believed it was the only thing that stopped me from killing myself. But they still thought I'd been roped in by some con-man.

So for balance: while con-men exist, so do caring professionals who want to help people through their dark times. And yes, be careful when choosing.
 

Mark White

Member
Messages
1,311
This is absolutely spot on

I try not to spout unhelpful crap. But should have said "result in" not "guarantee". It's been quoted now, so I won't change it.

Finding one's own path out of the mire of depression often requires customization.

And for the majority of people suffering from the normal human condition, there is a path that leads out. And there are people who will walk beside you through the darkness while you figure your path out for yourself.
 

RockinRob

Member
Messages
1,026
This being an example of how the ego drives thoughts and resultant actions. The "I think" is the giveaway. This is mentioned because of Steve's focus on the ego in the video.



Absolutely. It's completely anathema to many. A person's view can range from strongly disbelieving, to strongly believing, and any opinion from the countless in-betweens are all perfectly valid.

The dude who came up with some of the techniques and formalities that Steve describes basically said to judge any path by it's results: essentially "Don't take my word for it. Try it out for yourselves and come to your own conclusions". Many people will prefer to jump to a conclusion, whether informed or uninformed. That's up to them.



I'm genuinely delighted you can say that about yourself. It's a place many people don't get close to during their lifetimes. And maybe I missed some things in the video, but he talks more about not being unhappy, and suffering less. That's very different from seeking happiness: the absence of something does not necessarily guarantee the presence of it's opposite, nor is it necessarily sought after.

I'm also genuinely delighted that Steve put this video out there to provide some advice and possible direction for those who do not feel they are happy and don't know why, and don't know what to do with it. If one person is helped by what the video, it's a Good Thing. Especially if it's someone who would normally reject these sorts of new-agey-cool-aidy-slightly-out-there ideas but watches the videos because they think Steve is a cool guy.


The ego is the component of personality that is responsible for dealing with reality. Reality is simply the construct upon which we walk our lives through. Understanding this does not have to be a convoluted process. While I agree that the absence of one thing does not mean the presence of the opposite, it is certainly a great start. Happiness is a simple, simple process, and the innate refusal to believe this is what causes so many people to be unhappy. Sure you can say this is great it works for you, but then you have already denied it is the truth. Denial of the truth results in unhappiness. It doesn't have to be argued, and yet so many want to argue it.
 
Messages
121
The ego is the component of personality that is responsible for dealing with reality. Reality is simply the construct upon which we walk our lives through. Understanding this does not have to be a convoluted process. While I agree that the absence of one thing does not mean the presence of the opposite, it is certainly a great start. Happiness is a simple, simple process, and the innate refusal to believe this is what causes so many people to be unhappy. Sure you can say this is great it works for you, but then you have already denied it is the truth. Denial of the truth results in unhappiness. It doesn't have to be argued, and yet so many want to argue it.

I have seen depression in people close to me.

I can assure you that hapiness is not always a "simple, simple process".
 

Mark White

Member
Messages
1,311
The ego is the component of personality that is responsible for dealing with reality.

And a healthy (well-formed might be better?) ego allows us to interpret reality as transparently as possible. An unhealthy ego will colour our perception of reality in a way that presents a twisted or malformed understanding, and this can restricts us.

Reality is simply the construct upon which we walk our lives through. Understanding this does not have to be a convoluted process.

Though it is a construct of our own making, coloured by our widely varying egos. Many people do have unadulterated perceptions of reality at times in their lives. This can be generally fleeting and specific, like losing yourself in a piece of music you're playing, or fleeting but more encompassing, like the unity experience.

You may be saying the same in the first sentence. What may be more apt here is that many people *do not know this*. Videos like Steve's might help people to understand.

While I agree that the absence of one thing does not mean the presence of the opposite, it is certainly a great start.

Though that's not really what you said before. So I think you're agreeing with me here :)

Happiness is a simple, simple process, and the innate refusal to believe this is what causes so many people to be unhappy.

I had problems with my chest when I was very young. I spent time in hospitals a lot and ended up on medication for asthma into adulthood. It was less common than it is now, and doctors didn't always have great guidance or advice to give. So I got to about 35 and ended up on a course teaching a breathing technique that was supposed to help. And the instructor used the phrase 'Breathing out is free', in that you breathe in using your diaphragm to cause negative pressure in the chest cavity and the lungs fill with air as a result, and you relax and the weight of the ribs pushes the air out in a natural exhalation.

This was news to me because when I was little, the doctors would tell me to breath in from my ribs, and forcible exhale by contracting my ribs. I'd been making breathing really, really difficult for myself as a result. Shortly after this I stopped using medication for asthma and have only had to resort to it once in the last 15 years.

What could be simpler than breathing? But still, I'd learnt to do it "wrong". It wasn't a refusal to do it right, it was just that I'd never understood the doctors only want that forced inhale/exhale so they can hear what my chest was doing: I wasn't supposed to do it all of the time.

Hopefully you get my point. People are often raised to be unhappy, and sometimes they need other people to help them understand what they are doing to themselves. After my epiphany I remember sitting with a group of friends and trying to explain the same idea that you're saying here - that is is simple and all they need to do is just do it. And one friend got quite upset and said "It's alright for you, but it's not the same for me." And he was right. And I missed that totally at the time, and maybe you're missing that here too.

It doesn't have to be argued, and yet so many want to argue it.

I hope we're not arguing. I don't get to have many decent conversations about this, and I'm enjoying this.

And really, fair play to you if happiness is this easy for you. But that "walk a mile in another man's shoes" thing is terribly relevant when it comes to making blanket assertions about mental health. And I'm making gross oversimplifications here too.
 

RockinRob

Member
Messages
1,026
And a healthy (well-formed might be better?) ego allows us to interpret reality as transparently as possible. An unhealthy ego will colour our perception of reality in a way that presents a twisted or malformed understanding, and this can restricts us.



Though it is a construct of our own making, coloured by our widely varying egos. Many people do have unadulterated perceptions of reality at times in their lives. This can be generally fleeting and specific, like losing yourself in a piece of music you're playing, or fleeting but more encompassing, like the unity experience.

You may be saying the same in the first sentence. What may be more apt here is that many people *do not know this*. Videos like Steve's might help people to understand.



Though that's not really what you said before. So I think you're agreeing with me here :)



I had problems with my chest when I was very young. I spent time in hospitals a lot and ended up on medication for asthma into adulthood. It was less common than it is now, and doctors didn't always have great guidance or advice to give. So I got to about 35 and ended up on a course teaching a breathing technique that was supposed to help. And the instructor used the phrase 'Breathing out is free', in that you breathe in using your diaphragm to cause negative pressure in the chest cavity and the lungs fill with air as a result, and you relax and the weight of the ribs pushes the air out in a natural exhalation.

This was news to me because when I was little, the doctors would tell me to breath in from my ribs, and forcible exhale by contracting my ribs. I'd been making breathing really, really difficult for myself as a result. Shortly after this I stopped using medication for asthma and have only had to resort to it once in the last 15 years.

What could be simpler than breathing? But still, I'd learnt to do it "wrong". It wasn't a refusal to do it right, it was just that I'd never understood the doctors only want that forced inhale/exhale so they can hear what my chest was doing: I wasn't supposed to do it all of the time.

Hopefully you get my point. People are often raised to be unhappy, and sometimes they need other people to help them understand what they are doing to themselves. After my epiphany I remember sitting with a group of friends and trying to explain the same idea that you're saying here - that is is simple and all they need to do is just do it. And one friend got quite upset and said "It's alright for you, but it's not the same for me." And he was right. And I missed that totally at the time, and maybe you're missing that here too.



I hope we're not arguing. I don't get to have many decent conversations about this, and I'm enjoying this.

And really, fair play to you if happiness is this easy for you. But that "walk a mile in another man's shoes" thing is terribly relevant when it comes to making blanket assertions about mental health. And I'm making gross oversimplifications here too.


I think my major point of contention is that you rely on medical issues to explain the problems people have, when in reality things like unhappiness and mental health are usually not medical issues at all. Most people have simply been duped into believing they are. I am not talking medicine, I am talking philosophy. So that should be made clear. The problem that I see (and I see it in Vai's dissertation here) is that you don't need to treat happiness and mental health like its this huge logical theorem to work out. It is not a syllogism that takes a tremendous amount of deductive reasoning to figure out. Happiness is a hypothesis that should be taken for granted, a self-evident truth. If you refuse to believe that (and I would argue one cannot truly refuse to believe the truth) then you have already lost the battle to be happy.
 
Messages
121
I think my major point of contention is that you rely on medical issues to explain the problems people have, when in reality things like unhappiness and mental health are usually not medical issues at all. Most people have simply been duped into believing they are. I am not talking medicine, I am talking philosophy. So that should be made clear. The problem that I see (and I see it in Vai's dissertation here) is that you don't need to treat happiness and mental health like its this huge logical theorem to work out. It is not a syllogism that takes a tremendous amount of deductive reasoning to figure out. Happiness is a hypothesis that should be taken for granted, a self-evident truth. If you refuse to believe that (and I would argue one cannot truly refuse to believe the truth) then you have already lost the battle to be happy.
Do you have any knowledge at all about say, the functions of dopamine, seratonin and noradrenaline?
 

PBGas

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
7,173
I sincerely hope that once things settle down a bit in the world and we get back to a new type of normalcy, he will again tour. I saw him when the Gravity Storm album was released and it was such an amazing show. I have always been a fan. My favorite habit of his is the middle finger salute when he pushes his glasses up during interviews. LOL.

It’s nice to hear the human side of these folks and how they deal with all of the real world stuff that we all have to work through.
 

RockinRob

Member
Messages
1,026
Do you have any knowledge at all about say, the functions of dopamine, seratonin and noradrenaline?
Did you once hear Vai complain about his dopamine levels? This is exactly the response people have been conditioned to have when it comes to mental health. We aren't all the same, we aren't all going to produce the same levels of these substances to meet someone else's idea of what happiness. I have met plenty of depressed people, and everyone of them knew what it meant to be happy. The question is how to get there. It starts with the effort it takes to STOP making it a problem, which should be very little. Look man, I am not saying that medical issues don't exist. I am saying that the pursuit of happiness is largely irrelevant to medical condition and analytical analysis. If you want to find it in a bottle, good luck sir.
 
Messages
121
Did you once hear Vai complain about his dopamine levels? This is exactly the response people have been conditioned to have when it comes to mental health. We aren't all the same, we aren't all going to produce the same levels of these substances to meet someone else's idea of what happiness. I have met plenty of depressed people, and everyone of them knew what it meant to be happy. The question is how to get there. It starts with the effort it takes to STOP making it a problem, which should be very little. Look man, I am not saying that medical issues don't exist. I am saying that the pursuit of happiness is largely irrelevant to medical condition and analytical analysis. If you want to find it in a bottle, good luck sir.
What you are dong. Sir. Is advocating that perhaps some people just should not live.
Wether you realize that or not is irrelevant.
As is, for me, anything further you have to say on the subject.
 

RockinRob

Member
Messages
1,026
What you are dong. Sir. Is advocating that perhaps some people just should not live.
Wether you realize that or not is irrelevant.
As is, for me, anything further you have to say on the subject.

Ridiculous. YOU are part of the problem, not me. I find it so highly ironic that the best solution that people come up with to deal with mental health issues like depression is either a) take some drugs or b) stress out and overanalyze it all you can until you figure it out. Neither are paths to happiness, but pharmacies and quacks make a lot of money from it.
 

Mark White

Member
Messages
1,311
I think my major point of contention is that you rely on medical issues to explain the problems people have

Actually I don't, but I certainly should.

I'm not in the camp of rejecting all medical/psychiatric thoughts on the matter, but I do tend to believe that most people suffering from the "normal" human conditions (from ennui to depression, lack of confidence, neurosis, etc) can overcome these through pyschotherapeutic means. Whether that is counselling or therapy, or through personal spiritual growth and all that that encompasses.

I tend to talk about this because that's all I have experience of. I took anti-depressants on and off for a while, but they were always to 'take the edge off' when the depression as at it's worst and to give me some way of functioning somewhat normally. But I tend to caveat my way out of talking about people with medical root causes for their suffering because I have no real experience of that.

Unless I've fixated on a medical cause in a previous post, which I don't think I have, so please quote me and call me out if I've missed something here.

Most people have simply been duped into believing they are.

It doesn't matter. If people believe they are not happy, then the reality they've constructed for themselves is one where they are not happy. Whether this is as a result of being duped by society, or from constrains placed on them in their family when growing up, or other terrible life experiences that have shaped them there remains only the matter of "how can they best be helped".

I am not talking medicine, I am talking philosophy.

A philosophy is a viewpoint achieved at the end of logical or deductive reasoning and is the result of a conscious, willed act. A belief system/ego is developed as the result of a series of experiences over time, which very often are passive experiences. Certainly the experiences will be affected by the person's view of life: their philosophy. But the way people think about their lives is not the entire part of what really needs to be addressed in someone moving from a place of being unhealthy mentally, to being well. I think that includes moving to a place where there is less unhappiness, or more happiness if you prefer.

you don't need to treat happiness and mental health like its this huge logical theorem to work out.

Do you consider modern thoughts on psychology to be irrelevant?

(Though psychology tends to be based on experiential evidence, rather than logical theories IME).

Happiness is a hypothesis that should be taken for granted, a self-evident truth. If you refuse to believe that (and I would argue one cannot truly refuse to believe the truth) then you have already lost the battle to be happy.

Well we're going back on what people may or may not want here. When I was thinking about killing myself, I just wanted the pain to go away. It wasn't just that I wanted to be happy; it was more that I didn't want to suffer any more. I think this point is crucial (though from personal experience so may not apply widely, though I kind-of think it does).

The wider point is about what life consists of. I keep thinking of this so I'll link it:



So whereas you maintain happiness as being something that can be taken for granted. Yes, I'll go with this in that life is a constant variety of experiences that range from things that you respond to be being unhappy, and things that you respond to by being happy (and every variation of every emotion in between).

But happiness is not a constant, present state that can be guaranteed or expected. The ability to move through states of unhappiness, to cope with life's sh*t and move on knowing, really truly knowing, that tomorrow might bring a better day where you do have a chance of feeling better again, well that's a definitely a skill worth developing.

And I see Steve Vai's video as referring to this very thing. That there are many different ways of developing those skills (including having a good personal philosophy of life). And that everybody* can do it.

I don't think there's anything wrong with that at all.

*caveat on medical issues
 
Last edited:
Messages
12,568
If someone wants to know about depression, that's really the province of psychology, psychiatry and neurology.

Biology is the basis for everything in life, the foundation. Depression is always tied into biology.

Of course there are also cognitive, and behavioral, psychological aspects.

But beware of approaches that ignore or neglect biology, if we are talking about depression.

Happiness is a related but not identical topic, its own can of worms. It's kinda problematic as it's hard to define and ultimately understand. It can be unclear as an intellectual construct and theory.
 




Trending Topics

Top Bottom