WWB BOOK WISE Winter 2018 (1)
WWB Book Wise Club

WWB Presents the BOOK WISE 2018 WINTER PICK ‘Into The Magic Shop’–Q&A with Author about the Real Power of Love, Kindness, & Compassion

 

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AUTHOR PROFILE: James Doty, MD, is a clinical professor in the Department of Neurosurgery at Stanford University and the director of the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education at Stanford University School of Medicine. He completed his undergraduate education at the University of CA, Irvine and medical school at Tulane University. He trained in neurosurgery at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and completed fellowships in pediatric neurosurgery at Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia (CHOP) and in neuroelectrophysiology focused on the use of evoked potentials to assess the integrity of neurological function. Dr. Doty is also an inventor, entrepreneur and philanthropist having given support to a number of charitable organizations including Children as the Peacemakers, Global Healing, the Pachamama Alliance and Family & Children Services of Silicon Valley.

 

Laura Connolly, Founder of WWB (aka Lauroly) Opening: Welcome Dr. Doty, it is my honor to have you join me for a Q&A at World Wise Beauty. Your book “Into the Magic Shop” has been out for two years but I just discovered it recently and just had to share it as a ‘Book Wise’ selection. The focus at World Wise Beauty is about cultivating wellness wisdom, with the understanding that each of us have our own unique journey in life. Your life story is a prime example of a ‘unique journey’ and cultivating wellness wisdom. There’s a beautiful speech you gave to medical students at Tulane University later in your career, that describes life’s ‘journey’ profoundly. You had tears in your eyes when you gave the speech and so did most of your audience. I would love to share it, but I think readers should discover it on their own when they read your book.  It will mean so much more once they read your very personal story.

There are so many well respected authors and visionaries from around the world who sing praises about your book. One expert called it “a moving memoir focused on the power of compassion and kindness”. It would be too simple to say your book is about your life journey and how sometimes we lose our way to find our way. It’s so much more than this. It’s an extremely honest story about how disconnecting from ourselves ( our feelings, heart and our pain) can lead us astray and eventually catch up with us in self-destructive ways. It’s also an inspirational story because you created magic in your life with little to no support and despite the huge obstacles you faced at every major junction in your life. What I kept thinking in my head as I read your book, was a Robert Frost quote, “The best way out is always through.” Sometimes we have to live through things to become wise and self-actualize. The other thing I noted early on when reading your book, was how you stated unequivocally that you loved your parents, and you knew they loved you even when they let you down. This made me smile. Love is powerful and it overcomes and compensates for many things in our life. So what I would like to do is start here with a focus on love, and your belief  that we are wired to ‘care, love and be kind’.

Lauroly Q- I know the protagonist in your book was “Ruth’ who demonstrated to you what unconditional kindness and compassion is, but what I found when reading your childhood memories is you had already possessed an abundance of love, kindness and compassion as a child. You were able to give love, and recognize love despite the turmoil of living with your dysfunctional family. You were also forgiving despite the real limitations of your alcoholic father. You were acutely aware of your parents challenges as a young boy, and you also knew they loved you. As I read your story, I kept thinking love has many languages and what is most important is that it is translated and understood. I love the chapter in your book “Alphabet of the Heart’. How did you know your parents loved you despite the disruptive turmoil in your home?

Dr. James Doty: When individuals are suffering and in pain very often they are self-focused and it is hard for them to be present and be emotionally available. This was case with my parents. As I mentioned, my father was an alcoholic and my mother had sustained a stroke and was frequently depressed to the point where she attempted suicide on multiple occasions. That being said, I remember my mother going out with what little money she had to buy something special for my brother, sister and myself at times. I was also a picky eater and when possible she would pack a special lunch for me that had things I liked. Even though my father was often distant, he still expressed his love for me. I remember having to bail him out of jail while in college which took all the money I had. I didn’t know what I was going to do or how I was going to pay my rent. A week before my rent was due, I received a note from my father and he had signed over a check he had received that not only paid for the bail but paid my rent for three months. He really had no money at that time but regardless he gave it to me. So in all these ways, my parents showed they cared as best they could.

Lauroly Q-  Thank you for your very sensitive and eloquent answer Dr. Doty. A wise quote from Plato that runs through my mind almost every day is “The part can never be well, unless the whole is well.” How many times have we seen public figures or celebrities fall apart or worse die, and wonder how could that be? They look fit, healthy and on top of the world and yet were literally crumbling inside because of either untreated mental illness, depression, lack of connection with both themselves and others around them, or struggling with severe drug addiction. Your inspiring story reminds us that mind, body and spirit must dance together. Herein lies the magic of our existence and the secret to living well. Do you think looking back at the young boy you were, you could really understand what Ruth meant by “letting your heart be your compass”? Perhaps your heart was just a bit over extended for a young boy? You had to grow up pretty fast didn’t you?

Dr. James Doty: My story as a boy is not an uncommon one in a family dynamic that suffers from mental illness, alcohol or drug abuse or poverty. Often children are put into position where they have responsibilities far beyond what they should be given. For some it builds strength that allows them to grow, others it creates anger and hostility and for others they descend into abuse of alcohol and drugs or develop mental disorders. But for the grace of God, I met Ruth who taught me how to see the world a different way and not to carry anger or hostility about my situation. And to also recognize that everyone is suffering. I was fortunate to have met someone who cared and took the time to teach me.

Lauroly Q- You were indeed fortunate to have met a special person like Ruth who shared her time and wisdom with you. This is the amazing thing about humans, that we can not only go through very painful experiences, but find forgiveness and go on to be compassionate human beings despite our past experiences. What do you think the catalyst is? Why can some hearts overcome and others completely close up? I want to say it is because somewhere along the way a person has to experience ‘kindness, compassion and love’. It may not be at home, but they have to know it, feel it, and experience it on their life journey. The younger the better. I always think about simple acts of kindness throughout my day interacting with people–how my kind actions however small can make a difference to a person traveling this journey of life.

Dr. James Doty: I think you’re right that to be compassionate often we have to have received compassion. It is hard to imagine that someone who has repeatedly suffered and never experienced love can give love and compassion to another. Usually such individuals carry not only deep pain but immense anger. They are also not self-compassionate as they believe that since they didn’t receive compassion or love that they don’t deserve it.

Lauroly Closing: Thank you so much again for joining me Dr. Doty, and for writing this inspirational book. It is truly inspiring and enlightening and it most certainly opens the heart. I hope all my World Wise Beauties read ‘Into the Magic Shop’ and share it as well. They should also visit your CCARES website (The Center for Compassion & Altruism Research and Education) and learn more about the great work you are doing advancing the study of Compassion and Altruism. Wishing you continued inner peace and kindness on your wonderful life journey…

Dr. James Doty Closing: Thank you, Laura for selecting and sharing my book. In closing we should remember that if you are reading this, you are more fortunate then the vast majority of people in the world. So many people create unhappiness within themselves because they look at others with more instead of looking at so many others with less and having gratitude. Contentment and happiness are choices. We should also never forget that regardless of our circumstance, within each of us is the capacity to make a positive impact on another person every day. Sometimes all it requires is a smile.

 

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