Notes & Quotes: Into the Magic Shop by James Doty MD

The following are my favorite quotes from James Doty MD's Into the Magic Shop: A Neurosurgeon's Quest to Discover the Mysteries of the Brain and the Secrets of the Heart.
  1. From Dale Carnegie's How to Win Friends and Influence People, six ways to get people to like you:
    1. Become genuinely interested in other people.
    2. Smile.
    3. Remember that a person's name is, to that person, the sweetest and most important sound in any language.
    4. Be a good listener.
    5. Encourage others to talk about themselves.
    6. Talk in terms of the other person's interest. Make the other person feel important -- and do it sincerely.
  2. Extraordinarily, each of us has the ability to change the circuitry of our brain.
  3. In World War II there were special decks of cards that were made and sent to prisoners of war in Germany. Each card could be peeled apart and hidden inside was a section of a map that, if you pieced it all together, showed a secret escape route for the prisoners. Now that was an amazing magic trick.
  4. Breath and relaxation are the first steps toward taming the mind.
  5. Everyone has a story, and I have learned that, at the core of it, most of our stories are more similar than not.
  6. She taught me the pointlessness of wishing for a different past and the futility of worrying about all the frightening futures over which I had no control.
  7. The reward for taming the mind is clarity of thought.
  8. Each of us chooses what is acceptable in our lives. As kids, we don't get a lot of choice. We are born into families and situations, and it's all really out of our control. But as we get older, we choose. Consciously or unconsciously, we decide how we are going to allow ourselves to be treated. What will you accept? What won't you accept? You're going to have to choose, and you're going to have to stand up for yourself. No one else can do it for you.
  9. You need to understand that what you think you want isn't always what's best for you and others.
  10. I believe we learn what we are meant to learn, and some of us are simply meant to learn things the hard way.
  11. What matters is that you have an open heart. An open heart connects with others, and that changes everything.
  12. You have to believe in your own magic. This is what makes a magician great. He believes the story he is telling to the audience, he believes in himself.
  13. It is a lot of work, but that's the trick. You can have anything you want by visualizing that it's already yours. It's that simple and that hard, all at the same time.
  14. There is an old saying: "When the student is ready, the teacher appears."
  15. Is it your thoughts that create reality. Others can create your reality only if you don't create it yourself.
  16. It is with clarity of intent that vision becomes a reality.
  17. When our brain changes, we change. That is a truth proven by science. But an even greater truth is that when our heart changes, everything changes. And that change is not only in how we see the world but in how the world sees us. And in how the world responds to us.
  18. We are born and we die, and everything that happens between the two can feel so random it defies logic. The only choice we have is in how we respond in each precious moment we are given.
  19. Unfortunately, so many people allow others to decide what they can or cannot do. This was another gift that Ruth gave me -- the ability to believe in myself and accept that not everyone will want me to succeed or accomplish great things. And how to be okay with that reality and not react to it. 
  20. I wasn't worried about the outcome, I had learned to visualize what I wanted and yet detach myself from the end result. It would happen, one way or another. That's all I knew. I did my footwork and trusted the details to unfold however they were meant to unfold.
  21. It informed my absolute belief that who we are today doesn't have to be who we are tomorrow and that we are not connected to everything and everyone.
  22. There's only one way for wealth to bring happiness -- and that's by giving it away.
  23. The mind wants to divide and keep us separate. It will teach us to compare ourselves, to differentiate ourselves, to get what's ours because there is only so much to go around. The heart, however, wants to connect us and wants to share. It wants to show us that there are no differences and that ultimately we are all the same. The heart has an intelligence of its own, and if we learn from it we will know that we keep what have only by giving it away. If we want to be happy, we make others happy. If we want love, we have to give love. If we want joy, we need to make others joyful. If we want forgiveness, we have to forgive. If we want peace, we have to create it in the world around us.
  24. The Alphabet of the Heart: 
    1. Compassion.
    2. Dignity.
    3. Equanimity.
    4. Forgiveness.
    5. Gratitude.
    6. Integrity.
    7. Justice.
    8. Kindness.
    9. Love.
  25. Until one is truly kind to oneself, giving love and kindness to others is often impossible.
  26. When we look at others and see ourselves, we want to connect and help.
  27. It is our responsibility to seek justice for the vulnerable, to care for the weak, to give to the poor. That is what defines our society and our humanity and gives meaning to one's life.
  28. Each of them had a backstory, just like me. Each of them was walking a path. Each of them struggled and suffered at times. From the person with the least to the person with the most, they were just like me.
  29. When we give to others, it lights up the pleasure and reward centers in the brain, even more so than when someone gives to us.
  30. In the end, how well we love each other and how well we take care of each other will be what determines the survival of our planet and our species.
  31. You will see what one human is capable of inflicting upon another and even more sadly what one human is capable of inflicting on himself.
  32. The brain and the heart, working together, can make the most extraordinary magic there is.