FEMALE SPEAKER:
Welcome, everyone. My name is Ruchika, and I work
in the well-being learning team here at Google, a
team that brings you well-being learning programs
like Search Inside Yourself. Thank you to Meng,
who is here with us today, for creating that program
and G-Pause, G-Calm, et cetera. We are very fortunate to have
Dr. James Doty join us today. He is a professor in the
Department of Neurosurgery and the founder and director
of Center for Compassion and Altruism Research
and Education, which is also known
as CCARE more simply at Stanford School of Medicine. He collaborates with scientists
from a number of disciplines examining the neural basis
for compassion and altruism. He’s an inventor
and entrepreneur and a philanthropist. His work has been published in
a variety of research journals. You wouldn’t know it
from meeting him today, but Dr. Doty had a rather
challenging childhood, a poignant memoir of
which he has shared so authentically in
his book– that you can get a copy of outside. When he was 12 years old, he
wandered into a magic shop– literally– and met a woman
who saw the potential in him and taught him how to
manifest his greatest desires through a series of
techniques and meditative experiences. With her he learned
a unique relationship between the brain and the heart
that led to incredible success and happiness in life. I was personally blown
away by the book. I couldn’t put it down. I did the Audible
copy first and then I actually read through
the whole book again. With that I present
to you the author of “Into the Magic Shop–
a Neurosurgeon’s Quest to Discover the
Mysteries of the Brain and the Secrets of the
Heart,” Dr. James Doty. DR. JAMES R. DOTY: Well,
thank you for having me. I’m actually not going
to show any slides. I hope you’re not
too disappointed. So what I thought I would
sort of tell you a little bit about this book and sort of the
journey I had in that regard, but really at the end
of this, I basically want you to remember four words
and 10 letters of the alphabet. So the four words are suffering,
authenticity– oh– connection, and service. And then the letters of the
alphabet are C through L, and it’ll become more clear
as we come along here. One of the things that
many of us don’t appreciate is that all of us are suffering. And often times we get involved
with our own suffering, and it prevents us from actually
connecting with other people. And the prevention of
connecting with other people then doesn’t allow
us to truly connect. And as a species, that is how
we have evolved, and in fact, it’s this connection
that allows us to function at our best– both
mentally and physiologically. In regard to the book,
as Ruchika was kindly enough to describe, I had
a challenging childhood. Actually I grew up in poverty. My father was an alcoholic. My mother was an invalid–
she’d had a stroke. She was paralyzed. She was chronically depressed–
had attempted suicide on multiple occasions. Neither of my parents
had gone to college. And we were on public assistance
essentially my entire life. So this is typically not the
route to success in life. But a transformative
event occurred which really changed the
trajectory of my life at the age of 12. And what happened was I
walked into a magic shop in a strip mall. And I lived in the high
desert, and really I had no guidance or direction
and oftentimes would just take off on my bike. And I went into this shop. And as I walked in,
there was a woman who I describe as an earth mother. Now, depending on the audience,
if they’re under the age of 50, few of them know what
an earth mother is. If you’re over the
age of 50, you know. An earth mother– if you recall
the ’60s and the Beatles– there was this summer of love. And there were all
these people who were very much into–
sort of at that time the Beatles had brought
eastern religion. And they sort of embraced
this idea of loving everyone and peace, children, et cetera. Well, anyway, I would
describe this lady as that. She had this wavy gray
hair and had these glasses sitting on her nose. And by this time, I was
already becoming a delinquent. Because if you have
no hope or future, you have nothing to lose. And if you don’t have mentors,
access, financial resources, frankly in America
it’s actually very hard to overcome those
circumstances, especially if you are a minority. So this woman looked
up from her glasses– she was reading a
paperback book– and we began a conversation. And she had one of these–
and I’m sure each of you have met at times– people have
like a radiant smile that just as soon as you see them with
their smile, they embrace you. And you just feel very
comfortable with them. And she was that type of person. And frankly, I did not
advertise my personal situation, because I was ashamed of
it and was embarrassed. And over the course of
this brief conversation, though, she actually
asked me some quite penetrating
questions, which– this is my son back there. Asked me some
penetrating questions. And she said, you
know, I know nothing about the magic in this store. That’s my son’s thing. In fact, it turned out
she was just a place setter while her son
was doing an errand. And she said, I know nothing
about the magic in the store, but there is a magic
that I know that I think could change your life. Now, I wish I could tell you
as a 12-year-old I had any insight, because I didn’t. What she said to me next was,
I’m here for another six weeks. And if you show up, I’ll
teach you something. And if you really
practice it hard, everything will change for you. Well, then she offered
me some cookies. And we started chatting again. And the only reason I came
back was because I really wanted some more cookies. And as a 12-year-old,
she was so nice to me. And I had nothing else to do. It wasn’t because I had this
incredible self-awareness. So I showed up every
day for six weeks. And I tell people
that prior to that, I felt like a leaf being
blown by an ill wind. Because I had no
certainty about anything. You know, I wasn’t
sure if we would eat. I wasn’t sure if my
father would come home. I wasn’t sure if
I would come home and my mother would have
been taken to the hospital, because she had
attempted suicide. So it was a very chaotic,
unpredictable situation. When you’re in that
situation, what happens– there’s now something
that we describe as adolescent or adverse
childhood experiences. I don’t know if
you’ve heard of it. It’s called ACEs. And it really has
had a profound effect on how we look at
childhood experiences, especially children of poverty. Because many of them have
these experiences which actually– from a emotional
response point of view– is very much like
post-traumatic stress disorder. And it very negatively impacts
health, wellness, and actually your ability to succeed in life. And I was one of those
children, although certainly at that time, I
didn’t recognize it. So over the course of this
period, the first thing that she taught me– and
I actually describe it in the book as ruse for tricks. Now remember, this was 1968. I know I don’t look that old. But the terms mindfulness,
meditation, or neuroplasticity were really unknown
and certainly not in the popular conversation. But the first
thing she taught me was number one– that unless
you have attention and focus, you can’t succeed. And one of the preventers
of attention and focus is that emotionally
you’re wound up. And this winding up of
you or this response to this emotional state–
and in my case, it was anger. It was hostility. It was a sense of hopelessness–
has an effect on your body. So she spent a
great amount of time teaching me this idea
of relaxing the body and getting attention and focus. And we now know that this is
one of the first paths that is necessary to gain insight,
awareness, and control of your mental state. Because without
those two things, it’s hard to progress on. So over the period of time, she
taught me how to relax my body. And what I used
ultimately was a mantra. But she also taught me
how to look at a candle. And both of these
methods are quite effective in sort of getting
you into this position. And this is really
one of the first steps in traditional
mindfulness practice. And once I had felt that
I had understood that and began practicing it, the
next thing that she taught me was something that I
call taming the mind. Now how this is
slightly different from a traditional
mindfulness practice is that in that context,
the analogy that I use is that we have a dialogue
going on in our head. And I call it a radio
station, if you will. And for me– and
like many people who are suffering or even
just living a regular life but have not been
able to manifest how to fulfill their potential–
the dialogue that they have going on in
their head is not one which is a benefit to them. It is a creation
that they accept as equivalent to who they are. And often times it is negative. It is critical. It is certainly is
not self-affirming. And when that is present, it
is hard for you to be present. And it’s interesting also,
because what many of us don’t appreciate is
as a human species, we have the unique ability to
have an awareness of a past and a perception of a future. But what that also does
is it results in us not being present. And in fact, surveys
have been done, and between 45% and 78% percent
of people– like in this room, probably– you’re not with me. You’re thinking about
what you should have done, could have done, didn’t
do, or what you’re supposed to do after this lecture. Is anybody in that
position at all? Nobody. That’s wonderful. And the problem is when
you’re in this position, you cannot absolutely–
authentically– connect. And this also– these two things
which you were fighting– also results in you
worrying about what is going to happen to you or
your future or who you are or if you’re good,
et cetera, et cetera. And as a result, what many
of us don’t appreciate is this dialogue– this
negative dialogue– has an effect on your
autonomic nervous system. And it’s divided into the
sympathetic nervous system and to the parasympathetic
nervous system. When you engage in
negative dialogue, often times it has an
effect by increasing your sympathetic
nervous system output. And when that happens, you
have this release of hormones that if you were on
the savanna in African and you see a lion would allow
you to run away and climb up a tree. Your sphincters would tighten
up– at least mine would. I don’t know about you guys. But your blood flow
would be diverted to your skeletal muscle. Your pupils would dilate. And if you survive, great. If you didn’t, it
probably didn’t matter. Right? But in modern society, these
are engaged on a low level with this type of dialogue. And so your emotional state
has a huge impact on this. When you have the
chronic release of these types of hormones–
cortisol, epinephrine, norepinephrine– it
suppresses your immune system. It increases your
blood pressure, increases your heart rate,
and is very, very deleterious to your health in the long term. So one of the bases
of mindfulness is that you have this
non-judgmental response to these events
that are occurring. But what you can do
over time– and what she taught me– was
you can actually change that dialogue
to one of sort of this negative stuff
that is flowing along, which oftentimes
you identify as you, and recognize that
it is not you at all. And it is in your capacity
to change the conversation– or if you will,
change the channel– to one of self-compassion
and one of self-affirmation. And when you do that,
it has this huge effect on your physiology. And actually it
allows for these parts of the brain– as an example,
the executive control area– to function better. And when your executive
control area functions better, instead of when you’re
stressed or anxious, you make reactive
decisions– and I’m sure nobody here is
stressed or anxious. You know, it’s interesting
in the Silicon Valley, one of the biggest causes
of health care expenditure is stress, anxiety,
depression, and then all the effects on the
body from those, which are gastrointestinal upset,
back pain, neck pain, muscle spasm, and headache. I’m sure none of you guys
have had any of those, right? So what happens is,
though, when you have that type of
emotional response, it’s very deleterious. But if you’re able
to change the channel and shift from engaging your
sympathetic nervous system to your parasympathetic
nervous system, it has a huge, huge positive
effect on your health. And so we talked
about suffering. The other part of this
was also a recognition that it wasn’t just about me. You know, I would go
around through my day and say, oh, my life sucks–
if only this would happen. Gosh, why can’t this happen? Why couldn’t I have been born
into this family, et cetera, et cetera? And she gave me the
insight, though, to understand– as
an example, I used to have an immense amount
of anger and hostility towards my parents. Because my view was that
they were failures– that they had failed me,
that I deserved better. And while on some
level, maybe that was true, if I actually looked
at them in a different way and said, what is causing
their own suffering? Like as an example, my
father’s background– it turned out– was one
which was very difficult. And he had a very
demanding father who made his life miserable
and always told him he would not be successful. So his actions as an
adult were playing out from his own suffering. So once I recognized
and had the ability to perceive that other people
were suffering, not just me– my parents– and
also to be able to attend to my own suffering by being
compassionate to myself, giving myself
self-affirmation, it allowed me to no longer
have an emotional response and to be able to
more thoughtfully or discerningly think
through interactions. And in fact, many of you
read Viktor Frankl’s book? This is a psychiatrist who
was a victim of the Holocaust and was in a concentration camp. And basically the
summation of his experience was that he could
tell essentially in just a short
conversation with somebody if they were going to survive
in the concentration camp. The most important
determinant of that was that they had
meaning and a purpose. OK? But the other thing
he talked about was this idea of
stimulus and response. And this is the aspect
of the second lesson that Ruth taught me, which was–
and let me give you an example. Have any of you had anybody
cut you off on the freeway? Now you usually do two things. One is a hand movement, right? Meng’s is to wave. But he’s enlightened. But the other one
is usually some sort of an expletive that
comes out of your mouth. And so this event occurs. You have this immediate
emotional response. And then you do something. And oftentimes it’s
not helpful, is it? Now, let’s say, though,
if I taught you to look at the world a different way. As an example, the
person who cut you off– instead of thinking that they’re
a jerk, what if you reframed it and said, well, what if the
person driving that car– his wife is sitting next to him. She’s nine months pregnant. She broke her water. She’s bleeding. He’s trying to get
her to the hospital. Would you feel the same way
about your hand movement or the way you were
thinking about them? And so in this short
little exercise here, you’ve already seen the world
a completely different way. And you see, it’s seeing
this world– we give people the benefit of the doubt. You look at it in a
completely different way. It’s one of the
most powerful gifts that you can give to somebody. Because most of the time,
the negative interactions that you have with
people oftentimes have nothing to do with you. Somebody comes up
to you aggressively. And what do you do again? How do most of us react
when somebody comes up to us aggressively? We react aggressively, don’t we? True? But if you then looked
at the person and said, jeez, this is not
their normal behavior. Why would they be
acting this way? And you said to them, jeez, Mike
or Jim or whoever, you know, it’s so unusual to act this way. What’s wrong with you? Again, you reframe it. Again, because you’re
taking the time. And when you take the
time with that pause, we know that that
allows– instead of having a reactive interaction
associated with engagement of your sympathetic
nervous system, it allows for engagement of your
parasympathetic nervous system, which is affiliative–
wants to connect and is when your executive
control area works best. And you are more thoughtful. You are more discerning. And of course, when you do that
the outcome is much better. So this was this idea of taming
the mind that Ruth taught me as the next part. And, of course, you
know that it’s hard if you’re wrapped up
in your own suffering– in your own issues– to
care for other people. Because it’s hard to be present
and you’re focused on yourself, which doesn’t allow you to
give attention to other people. So the third thing
that she taught me was this idea of
opening the heart. Now, opening the
heart can be very challenging for some
people, and some people don’t know what
that means exactly. It gets back to what
I was just talking to, which is this idea of looking
at people in a different way. Now certainly it’s easy for
all of us in this room– well, maybe not always
with your spouse– but for most of us for our
children, as an example, it’s easy to give them
unconditional love. And hopefully you also
do this with your partner or your spouse. But even that can be hard. It can be challenging, can’t it? I mean, have any
of you gotten upset with your partner or spouse? Oh, come on here. They must have something
in the water at Google that makes everybody
just love each other. But all of us have gotten
upset with our spouses. And so imagine if it’s
easy to do that, then what about giving compassion or
unconditional love to someone who you don’t know? And then the next
step is giving it to someone who you may have a
negative feeling about that? And these are big,
big challenges. But what we do know
from science is that when you mentally
function that way– where that is your
default mode– again, this is when you connect most,
which is our default mode. This is when your
physiology works the best. Now one of the
things I mentioned earlier was these four words. Does anybody remember them? As a neurosurgeon, we test
people on short term memory. You all failed. So suffering, authenticity,
connection, service. OK. So when we talk
about authenticity, this is also a
challenge for people. Because– especially at a place
like Google– because most of the people who I know who
work at Google– with maybe one or two exceptions, I’m just
kidding– are exceptions. Those are two of
them right– no. With few exceptions are actually
incredibly accomplished people. But you know one– I guess no
one else in the room thinks so, and I’m sorry. But– are you guys
OK over there? Yes. But the thing, though,
is that I can’t tell you the number of times when I’ve
been at Google– and with Meng and others– and
oftentimes there’s a compulsion by some to sit
there and say, you know, I’m from Harvard. And I graduated with a 4.8,
and I was the top of my class. Well, that’s not even related
to the conversation here. And the problem is– or
the challenge of this oftentimes– is why do
people say things like that? Because they want to
project what they think is their best self to you. And there’s a great cartoon. And it’s two people,
and they’re just meeting each other
up in whatever– where the writing is. It says, jeez, their
projection of themselves was so impressive
now I have to create my own projection to compete
with their projection. Right? And the problem is that everyone
in this room is suffering. They have had failures. They have done things that
they’re not proud of themselves about. They have hurt other people. Because that is the
nature of our humanity. And the problem is, though, that
if all you project to another person is your best self,
then you cannot connect authentically. And it’s this
authentic connection that empowers you to
be your best self. As an example, I know
that– and it’s interesting. Because I have
colleagues, and they’ll make these presentations about
the most horrible disasters in the world. And they just have
this monotone where there’s absolutely no emotional
content to what they’re saying. But if I give a talk and a part
of it– which you’ve already probably noticed here. There are certain times where my
voice has cracked a little bit or I may get emotional. As soon as I do that, you
sort of resonate with that. That’s who we really are. And it’s allowing
yourself to not be your best self–
allowing yourself to be exposed as the
frail fragile human being that you are–
that allows you to connect best with people. So this whole idea of
authenticity– and this is something that Brene Brown
has promoted and done research on– is extraordinarily powerful
and is important to have true relationships. And one of the reasons
that prevents us from that– do any of you
know about the blue zones? The green zones? The red zones? So there are parts of the world
where people live routinely to over a century, and these
are called the blue zones. And there’s been a lot of
work on why this is the case. And what’s extraordinary is
that in some of these places, you know these
people– they smoke. They drink. Yet they’re still living
to over a century. And what is it that they found
that’s the most important thing and that relates to
what I was just saying? It’s that in those
situations, those people live in small villages
or places where there are multigenerational
families where they have lived with the same
people their entire lives. And so what happens
in that situation? And why do those people
then live so long? Because that is how we were
meant to be as a species. Because in those situations–
unlike this idea where you’re presenting your best
self– if you’ve grown up there running around naked as
a child and everyone has seen you, if you’ve sort of done
all your juvenile delinquent things as a child and
everyone still loves you, what do you know? You know you’re loved
unconditionally. You know, I’ve
spent a lot of time with various religious and
spiritual leaders– the Dalai Lama, Thich Nhat Hanh,
Amma– and one of the things that I will tell
you about every one of them is that as soon as
you’re in their presence, there is a lightness
to your spirit and the sense of
unconditional love. Because what do you
know as soon as you walk into their presence? You know there’s no agenda. You know that they love
you unconditionally. And you no longer have to
carry this projection around that you promote
to other people. And the psychological weight of
that burden is incredibly huge. So we were then talking about
sort of opening your heart. And one of the challenges
I had growing up was I heard the first
two lessons that Ruth had taught me and the last one. And the last one was this
idea of clarity of intention. And the techniques that
I’ve talked about– which are outlined in the
book and you can find in other places as well–
this idea of visualization or clarity of intention
is incredibly important. And when you have this ability
to attend, to relax, to change the dialogue, and then utilize
this technique of clarity of intention, this on
a subconscious level imbues you with a ability to
be much, much more powerful than you can even imagine. And as a result,
[MUSIC PLAYING] music starts playing spontaneously
in any environment. It allows you to
achieve your goals. Now certainly, of course,
that’s in the context of they’re not harmful to
others, et cetera, et cetera. I’ll throw that karmic
requirement in there even though I’m an atheist. And this is actually
the technique that really allowed me
to have great success. So after this period
of time with Ruth over the six-week period,
my personal circumstances in no way changed whatsoever. What changed was how I reacted
to those circumstances. And this is the
case with all of us. It’s really not the events in
our lives that are the problem. It is our reaction
to those events. It is us who gives power to
those events, either to help us or to hinder us. And that’s really the idea
behind really pretty much all of the teaching that gave
me in addition to this aspect of actually opening your heart. And I’ll talk about
that a little more and how I ignored it. The thing, though, about
clarity of intention, though, is many of us would like
the simple way– which is jeez, I used this technique. I really practiced it. I have this point here. I want to go to point
B. It’s going to be this smooth, straight line. It will all happen as fast
as I want it to happen. The reality is it
doesn’t work that way. Even in the face of those
best techniques, typically it is not a straight line. It is an up and down valley
with detours and setbacks. And I give many
examples in the book. At least for me, it did allow me
to ultimately get from point A to point B. Let’s see. We covered– what
are the four things? AUDIENCE: Suffering. Authenticity. Connection. DR. JAMES R. DOTY: Connection. So we covered connection–
the power of connection. Why do we want to connect,
or why physiologically does that happen for us? Why is it important? Well, there are three
parts of us– our species– that we evolved and
which were necessary. And as a result, it was
critically important that we connect. And that was something
called theory of mind, abstract thinking,
and complex language. The requirement for that
was an enlarged cortex, but the other aspect of
it was that our species, unlike other species–
what has to happen? We do not just run off into
the forest or swim away. We have to be
attended to for, what, 15, 20 years– in my case, over
30 years– to our offspring. Right? If our offspring are not cared
for for a decade and a half or two decades, they will not
survive in a harsh environment. So what are the critical parts? Many of you have heard
of the mirror neuron system, which allows
our species to mirror the behaviors of others. But it is critical, and it
takes immense amounts of time. But what would be the
reward for the parent to put so much energy and
resources to our offspring unless there was something
that they got from it? And what they get from it is
we are rewarded with oxytocin. OK? When we get these
drips of oxytocin, it causes our pleasure
centers and our reward centers to increase
their metabolism. And we are getting
benefit from caring. The other aspect is
that as a species, to care for our
offspring we have to be able to understand
their emotional state in a microsecond and attend
to their suffering or pain. And this is why–
and Paul Ekman has done this work on micro
facial expressions. There’s a body of
work on body posture. And let me give you an example. Any of you who has
lived with someone for a long period of time,
if they walk into a room and don’t say a word,
generally speaking you can tell if there’s
something going on. You can tell if they’re happy. You can tell if they’re sad. You can tell if they’re hurt. And this is this thing
that oftentimes we don’t appreciate
that we have and we get distracted from because
we are not attending. OK? And this is how we evolved. When we attend,
science has shown that our physiology
works at its best and that is what we
are designed to do. Amazingly the same traits
were critically important as we went from
the nuclear family to the hunter gatherer tribes. Remember, that was our
primary survival strategy until 6,000 to 8,000 years
ago in groups of 10 to 50. If a person did not live up
to their responsibilities in that group and put
the group at risk, then potentially bad
things would happen. So an individual being able
to see the suffering of one of their members of their tribe
and alleviate that suffering– again, critical to our survival. And then, of course, we
evolved to culture, religion, and what we know as
today’s modern society, of which we were never
meant to live in, right? Evolution is a
very slow process. It takes millions of years,
while technological development simply takes less
than a decade or two. So you see this exponential
growth here and us here. So we have to basically live
with our baggage from evolution and be our best person. And that baggage includes
what we’re talking about, which is this flight or fight
response which is characterized by activation of our sympathetic
nervous system, which can be deleterious to our health. It is this tendency
to have a desire to connect with people who
look like you, act like you, think like you. And this is called tribalism. And we see this playing out
in the political process, don’t we? And where people– if you
activate their fear mechanism, then they go off into tribalism. And then they want to
exclude other people. And this is a negative
part of our baggage. The positive part of our baggage
is this caring, nurturing part, which is really
our default mode. These other two parts actually
are very negative towards us. But these types of
practices I described to you can overcome those. And as long as you
have a self-awareness and also understand
your own cognitive biases towards being
these other ways, it can allow you to reach
your full potential. So coming from the environment
which I described to you, I was able to go to
college, to medical school, become a neurosurgeon, become
a professor at Stanford, run a technology company– a
medical device company– that went public for $1.3 billion. But the thing I did not connect
with all of this at the time and that I was reacting
to– because I really believed that what would
make me happy was what? Money. Because my life as a
child was out of control. So I believed that money
would give me control, and therefore, control
would give me happiness. And along this path I
took, I ended up not actually opening
my heart, really, the way that I had
been taught by Ruth. And it had a very negative
effect ultimately. So here I was, theoretically
at the pinnacle of my success, where I had Ferraris and
Porsches and big houses and traveling all over
the place in private jets, and I had never been so
miserable in my entire life. Because what I thought
that would give me sustenance was a chimera. It only led to more emptiness. And finally, when I was in a
position and self-reflected on what was really important–
which actually took me back to this magic shop with this
woman and dissecting everything that she had taught
me– I realized the most important thing
was this opening the heart and having connection. And it led me ultimately in the
face of actually financially losing everything to giving
away the last asset that I had, which was stock
in a company that had not gone public to charity. Because I had made some
commitments to charity, even though I was
essentially $3 million in the hole from being bankrupt. Because I lost everything
during the dot com thing. But that then allowed
me to create the center that I run at Stanford,
to connect with the Dalai Lama and a variety of other
spiritual and religious leaders, and really
changed my view. So I talked about
connection, but this is where service comes in. It has been shown, and
I’ll give you an example. There is a Wisconsin
longitudinal study. And this is a
study that was done in people over the age of 65. And one group committed to
a certain minimum amount of service to others. The other group was a
control group and did not. And it shows you the power
of connecting to others and being of service
to others and caring. The people who did a
minimum number of hours over a period of time
compared to the control group had a 1.9 X increase
in longevity compared to the other group. 1.9. Huge, huge. Now, there were a
couple exceptions. The exceptions related
to when the people who did the service–
they did not receive the benefit– a
subset– and those were people who were
doing it for self benefit. They wanted to get
a reward, or they wanted to impress other people. You can’t fake these things. You have to care. So that is the power of service. That is the power of connection. That is the power
of authenticity and the recognition that
everyone in this room is suffering in
some way or another. And even the person who
appears the most prominent, the most successful– many
times those people are alone in a room crying. Now I told you about 10
letters of the alphabet. And I’ll finish up with that. Do I have enough
time to do that? Great. I was asked to give a talk– and
it was quite an honor for me– to my medical school. Because, believe it or not,
my medical school actually let me into medical
school without a degree and with a GPA of
2.53 out of four. And that’s a long story. It’s in the book,
so read the book. But I ultimately– at
the end of the day– I was the last person
who probably would be accepted to medical school. And in fact, I was
just with the president of the university and the
dean, and they told me I still have the record
for the lowest GPA and not getting a degree. So it’s necessarily
I’m something proud of, but I had a few
distractors in there. But I want to talk
about this– what I call the alphabet of the heart. And I’ll tell you the story
about the medical school really quick. So they did accept me, and it
is a very unusual situation. But what happened is– and
this is also to show you– you can never predict the
trajectory of someone’s life. I became a very
successful entrepreneur as I indicated to you. After Hurricane Katrina, the
medical school was flooded. They moved the medical
school to Baylor in Houston. The present dean– he got
so depressed about this, he resigned. They had no dean. The library was damaged. So they were trying
to recruit a dean, and they wanted a
fellow from Harvard. But he wanted an endowed chair. Well, I was in the
position to endow his chair and repair the library. And I set up a multimillion
dollar scholarship for students who were going into service. Yet, I was the last person
who you would probably think would be accepted
to medical school. And so I’m on the
Board of Governors, the President’s Council of
the university, the board of administrators, et cetera. My point is that you
can do amazing things, and you can never
predict the power you have over another
person to change their life like this
Ruth person did for me. And each of us– no
matter our position– if you recognize another
person and give them the gift of your
time or attention, you can change everything. But back to these 10
letters of the alphabet. So I was asked to give this
talk to the new medical students to try to inspire them
for a future in medicine. And I spent a lot of time
thinking about this, including my time with Ruth and all the
lessons that I had learned and all the science behind it. And I came up with 10
letters of the alphabet that I actually now use as
my own personal practice. And it starts with
C and ends with L. And I go through this with
intention multiple times a day, and it centers me and,
again, clarifies my intention as to who I wish to be. And that’s compassion
for self and others. Recognizing the dignity
of every person. Practicing equanimity. Practicing forgiveness. Because what
happens with so many is you hold these
emotions, because you think someone has wronged you. And it stops you
from connecting. And you always carry this. So forgiveness. Having gratitude. Science has now shown that
showing gratitude– having gratitude– is
one of the biggest effectors of your own health
and mental well-being. You know, so many
people in this area– they’re always looking up
about what others have. Yet if you look down and you see
what the rest of the world has, you’re one of the most
blessed people in the world. H is humility. I will tell you,
as a neurosurgeon, practicing humility is
probably the hardest. Nobody says anything. You’re supposed to laugh. Neurosurgeons are
not usually humble. It’s difficult,
but, you know, when you recognize– it’s hard to
be compassionate to another person, to care
for another person, if you’re looking down on them. These practices have
to be done eye to eye. Because no one is
better than you, and you’re better than no one. The other one is integrity
or having personal values that you live by. Then one that is important
to me is justice. We have a responsibility
for our privileged position to care for those who
are most vulnerable. The last is the active
component of compassion, which is kindness. And all of this is
contained by love. Those are the 10 letters now. I’ll end this with telling
you an interesting story about those 10 letters. About two months after I
got– or I gave– that talk, I got an email from a woman. She said, I’m the
spiritual director of the largest homeless
shelter in the United States. And she said, all my
friends had sent me notes because I was burned out. I couldn’t go to work anymore. I had resigned my position. And on my last day at work
after everything had failed, I saw your talk that
goes through these 10 letters of the alphabet. And it was so inspiring
to me, it gave me the strength to return to work. And I was, of course,
incredibly moved by that. And so I thanked
her for the note. And a few months later,
she said, you know, we started using
this on our clients. And it’s very powerful. We use it every morning
to start our day. And again, I’m
extraordinarily moved. She sent me another note. And she says, you know, my best
friend’s daughter makes beads. And she says, as you know,
in all religions beads are utilized for centering. She said, my friend’s
daughter made a set of beads with 10 wooden
beads, but she also added another bead, which was
to represent the golden rule. And she said, I’ve started using
this and carrying this around. And would you mind if we
sell this as a fundraiser? So then they did that. Then a few months passed. She sends me another email. And she says, we made a
video about these beads, because they’re so powerful. And it’s on YouTube. And it’s called
compassion beads, and it’s associated
also with her work at the San Antonio Peace Center. And it’s this
beautiful video that talks about how utilizing
these in practices. And this is clarity
of intention. It creates, if you will,
these compassion super-neural highways. And so this has gone
on, and now these are sold all over the world. But it’s really a
powerful statement. And I actually carry
them around with me, and it’s become actually
my own practice. Because at any time, I can
just touch one of those and it puts me into this mode
of self-reflection, connection, and sort of trying or
aspiring to be the best person that I can be. And I know that’s
what all of us want. So thank you. Do we have time for questions? Any? Oh, sure. FEMALE SPEAKER: Any questions? I’ll pass the mic around,
because this video is recorded. And if there are any
questions on the live stream, feel free to ping it to me. [email protected] and then I’ll be
happy to ask on your behalf. Any questions in
the audience first? DR. JAMES R. DOTY: I must
be the most cogent lecturer. AUDIENCE: So your talk
was very inspiring. DR. JAMES R. DOTY: Thank you. AUDIENCE: I want to
know about the woman that in the [INAUDIBLE]
shop– are you still in touch with her? Has she done anything
else for you after the– DR. JAMES R. DOTY:
Well, she would have to be– she
would have to be like in your longevity program,
because she’d be about 104 right now. So when I met her,
she was probably in her late 40s or early 50s. Actually a strange
part of that story is that after about nine months,
because this was so powerful for me, I wanted to go
back and see her and thank her and connect with her. And I went back
to the strip mall. And there was a fence around it,
and all the stores were closed. And it was very strange. This was in the high desert. And if you’ve ever lived
in the high desert, in the wee evenings
the skies can sort of get this dark blue
with different shades and wispy clouds. And I used to drive this
orange Stingray bike. And I pulled up there, and
I was reflecting on the fact that it was gone. She had completely disappeared. And as I’m sitting there on my
bike and thinking about this, this big tumbleweed
blows into my bicycle. It was like almost
this TV moment. But no, I never saw her again. Now, to research this book,
though, because many of us don’t appreciate that our
memories can– even though we have a clear memory
of something– can often not be real. And in fact, a wonderful
example– there’s a woman who used to tell a
story that her father died when she was 10. And she would go around
telling everybody, you know, I keep my
father in my heart. Because every night he would
read the same story to me. And then at some point, she
was telling somebody that, and she goes,
that’s not possible. She goes, what are
you talking about? She says, well,
the author who did that story didn’t write
it until five years after your father died. But she created a
narrative in her head. So actually at one point, as I
was going back and reflecting on all of my interactions
with this woman, I’m going, did I just make this up? And so I actually
got it investigated. And we researched it. We tracked down the grandson. And in fact, he said she was
exactly like I described. And she had had sort
of this background. And what’s interesting
about this, though it’s sad in some
ways, is that the guy who owned the store– he had
divorced his wife and the son lived with the wife. And that summer that
child who was my age was supposed to be with
them during the summer. And the parents got
into a big argument, and the mother
refused to send him. So I think I probably got the
benefit of that interaction. Any other questions? Yes, sir? AUDIENCE: Sort of an
anecdote, slash, question. I read your book last month. It was a great time
for me to read it, because five years ago I had
done a visualization exercise. And so it’s been five years. And everything had come to pass. And I was sort of doing this
reflection of, like, OK. I need to do my next five years. And now I’m scared shitless. This came to pass
and what do I do now? Like, the pressure
and the– seeing the power of these
techniques sort of puts me in this place where
I’m at an impasse of how do I actually
visualize the next set? And I was just
wondering– I don’t know that I have a direct question. But I was just– DR. JAMES R. DOTY: No, I
understand what you’re saying. Because sometimes
it can be scary, because you see
these events unfold before you, which
actually sometimes seem extraordinarily amazing. And I can say that with my own
experience as you read about. But the challenge
for I think all of us is we create these types
of narratives in our head, but we become attached to them. And then we start grasping. And this is the
biggest challenge– is because while we may
with good intention– with clarity of intention–
desire something, when we attach to it very strongly,
actually that interferes many times with it
actually manifesting. And when it doesn’t
manifest, because you’re so emotionally attached to it,
it has very negative effect. As an example, I’ve been working
on a project for some time. And it has done very well. And I had manifested
that it was going to go on in a different way. And it appears as though
that’s not the case. And you know, my
initial response– because it was so important to
me– is to bemoan the– oh god. What did I do? What’s wrong with me? And the thing, though, is that
by not having an attachment to that and still being
joyous and thankful of what you already have,
then you’re liberated. Because what you’re describing
is a fear of success. But why would you have
a fear of success? So you have to
remember that you can be joyous in every situation. And it’s getting
back to it’s not the situation– it’s how you
respond to the situation. And that’s always,
always the case. And that’s one of the
greatest gifts you can have– is to see this reality. Because events have no power. It’s you only give them power. Any other questions? Yes, ma’am? AUDIENCE: You mentioned
on several occasions how we’ve used science to
inform compassion practices– so the longevity
studies and whatnot. Are we turning around
to use compassion to inform scientific research
or interaction with patients? How does it flip back over? DR. JAMES R. DOTY: Correct. We are doing that. Yes. In every domain of life. And this is why fundamentally
in every religious practice, compassion is at the base. Because it’s so, so important. If you look– not only
for the individual, which, in some ways, is what
we’re talking about today– but if you look at the
educational environment, a variety of studies that
with intent put compassion in the forefront, in the
educational environment with mindfulness
types of practices, this is having a significant
effect on attendance and academic performance
and decreasing violence. Now we’re still at the
early stages of this, so I don’t want
to make a blanket statement that jeez, mindfulness
is great for everything. Because it’s not. And mindfulness alone without
compassion definitely is not. But in general in regard to
the educational environment, if we look at the health
care environment– I just did a paper and a
blog in the “Huffington Post” called “Why Kindness Heals.” And I even tell my residents
that even though I’m in a very technologically
sophisticated specialty such as neurosurgery, my
successes, my outcomes, are just as much affected by
my connecting with the patient. And all of you have
been to doctors. The worst doctor you
can have is somebody who doesn’t look you in
the eye, who is brusque, sort of looking around here. You know he wants to be
somebody else or someplace else. But if you see a doctor
who leans forward, who touches you, who
says, take your time. I want to understand
what’s going on. It changes everything. Because you’re shifting
from the stressful mode you’re in, because seeing
a doctor is stressful, to one of calmness and
being with somebody who you feel you can
be authentic with, who you can trust. And that calms everything. In fact, we’re just
beginning a study on how these types of
practices affect wound healing in surgical patients. And we actually have a grant
with Dignity Health where we’re actually looking at how all
of these different types of engagements not only affect
patient outcomes, readmission rates, wound healing, et cetera,
but also how you can decrease health care worker burnout. And we’re also doing
these practices with some of the
medical students as well as the residents. So at Stanford we
have the center, which is the acronym CCARE. And we actually have developed a
compassion cultivation training program, which
has been validated in a variety of studies. And we also have
created something called the compassion skills
training program online, which can be used in
a variety of settings. In the business
environment, we know that the integration of
these types of practices have an effect, not only–
and again, multiple studies have shown this– if you look
at a publicly traded company and the integration of
these types of practices, in terms of shareholder
value and productivity– that goes up. In terms of expenditures
on health care, in regard to these areas we were
talking about earlier, in terms of HR costs, because people
are not leaving the company, they’re not not showing up. You know, there’s this
thing called absenteeism, but there’s also a thing
called presenteeism. Right? You’re here, but
you’re not here. And so then if you look in
the social justice arena, we have a disaster in the
juvenile justice system. We have a militarized
police force. Right? Those are not
compassionate environments. But we know– and
we were just talking about– what was her name? Bedi? Kiran Bedi, who from India–
she integrated these types of practices into
the prison system in the police department. Had a profound, profound
impact– to the point that they require it. That’s what we need to do here. And in fact, I’m
the vice chairman of an entity called the
Charter for Compassion. And there’s a compassionate
cities movement. And the mayor of Louisville–
believe it or not– Louisville, a bastion
of blue and red, he’s integrating all of
these types of things into the business environment,
educational environment, health care system, all of these. And the police system and
the juvenile justice– and very, very positive impact. In fact, he was re-elected
without an opponent based simply on being compassionate. That is the power of this. So again, to
emphasize, each of us has within our ability to
profoundly affect not only ourselves but
everyone around us. So thank you again.