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Stanford University School of Medicine

Stanford neurosurgeon-writer encourages people to practice kindness and compassion

Jim Doty's life might have turned out very differently had it not been for a chance meeting in a magic shop when he was 12 years old. It was there that the Stanford neurosurgeon met Ruth, who taught him how to harness the power of his mind, open his heart, and eventually transform the trajectory of his life.

Doty's journey is chronicled in his book, Into the Magic Shop, and highlighted in a recent piece on Quartz. Doty, MD, founder and director of the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education, says that the magic lies in practicing kindness and compassion, and by creating a positive narrative in our minds:

We internally criticize ourselves for a variety of things, and very often for making small mistakes or forgetting something inconsequential. Doty explained: 'The part that you’re beating yourself up about might make up 1% and you’re focused on that, and not looking at the 99%, which is beautiful, wonderful, caring, giving, and has the potential to change the world and change every life around yourself. When you can change that narrative to understand this reality and change it to one in which you’re overflowing with gratitude, goodness, kindness—where you want to embrace everybody—remarkable things happen.'

There are clear health benefits of what Doty is advocating: "Doty pointed out that there is an ever-growing body of science showing that you’re both happier and healthier when you practice generosity and gratitude with intention."

The writer was clearly inspired after meeting Doty, and I, too, felt moved and wanting to take a quiet moment and just be after reading the piece. “Turning yourself off, being self reflective, slowing down, breathing, and just being with yourself, and not trying to process anything, not trying to solve any problem, just being there and thinking of your best self." It's as simple as that, Doty says.

Previously: Into the Magic Shop: Stanford neurosurgeon Jim Doty's captivating memoirHow being compassionate can influence your healthThe Dalai Lama talks business, compassion and happiness and Dalai Lama and Stanford researchers explore science of compassion and altruism
Photo by Mitchell Joyce

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