Into the Magic Shop: A Neurosurgeon's Quest to Discover the Mysteries of the Brain and the Secrets of the Heart

Into the Magic Shop: A Neurosurgeon's Quest to Discover the Mysteries of the Brain and the Secrets of the Heart

by James R. Doty MD


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The award-winning New York Times bestseller about the extraordinary things that can happen when we harness the power of both the brain and the heart
Growing up in the high desert of California, Jim Doty was poor, with an alcoholic father and a mother chronically depressed and paralyzed by a stroke. Today he is the director of the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education (CCARE) at Stanford University, of which the Dalai Lama is a founding benefactor. But back then his life was at a dead end until at twelve he wandered into a magic shop looking for a plastic thumb. Instead he met Ruth, a woman who taught him a series of exercises to ease his own suffering and manifest his greatest desires. Her final mandate was that he keep his heart open and teach these techniques to others. She gave him his first glimpse of the unique relationship between the brain and the heart.
Doty would go on to put Ruth’s practices to work with extraordinary results—power and wealth that he could only imagine as a twelve-year-old, riding his orange Sting-Ray bike. But he neglects Ruth’s most important lesson, to keep his heart open, with disastrous results—until he has the opportunity to make a spectacular charitable contribution that will virtually ruin him. Part memoir, part science, part inspiration, and part practical instruction, Into the Magic Shop shows us how we can fundamentally change our lives by first changing our brains and our hearts.


Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781594632983
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 02/02/2016
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 324,104
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

James R. Doty, M.D., is a professor in the Department of Neurosurgery at Stanford University and the director of the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education (CCARE), where he researches the neuroscience of compassion and altruism. He is also a philanthropist funding health clinics throughout the world and has endowed scholarships and chairs at multiple universities. He serves on the board of a number of nonprofits, including the Charter for Compassion International and the Dalai Lama Foundation.

Read an Excerpt

The day I noticed my thumb was missing began like any other day the summer before I started eighth grade. I spent my days riding my bicycle around town, even though sometimes it was so hot the metal on my handlebars felt like a stove top. I could always taste the dust in my mouth—gritty and weedy like the rabbit brush and cacti that battled the desert sun and heat to survive. My family had little money, and I was often hungry. I didn’t like being hungry. I didn’t like being poor.
Lancaster’s greatest claim to fame was Chuck Yeager breaking the sound barrier at nearby Edwards Air Force Base some twenty years earlier. All day long planes would fly overhead, training pilots and testing aircraft. I wondered what it would be like to be Chuck Yeager flying the Bell X-1 at Mach 1, accomplishing what no human had ever done before. How small and desolate Lancaster must have looked to him from forty five thousand feet up going faster than anyone ever thought possible. It seemed small and desolate to me, and my feet were only a foot above the ground as I pedaled around on my bike.
I had noticed my thumb missing that morning. I kept a wooden box under my bed that had all my most prized possessions. A small notebook that held my doodles, some secret poetry, and random crazy facts I had learned—like twenty banks are robbed every day in the world, snails can sleep for three years, and it’s illegal to give a monkey a cigarette in Indiana. The box also held a worn copy of Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People, dog-eared on the pages that listed the six ways to get people to like you. I could recite the six things from memory.
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. Encourage others to talk about themselves.
5. Talk in terms of the other person’s interest.
6. Make the other person feel important—and do it sincerely.
I tried to do all of these things when I talked to anyone, but I always smiled with my mouth closed because when I was younger I had fallen and hit my upper lip on our coffee table, knocking out my front baby tooth. Because of that fall my front tooth grew in crooked and was discolored a dark brown. My parents didn’t have the money to get it fixed. I was embarrassed to smile and show my discolored crooked tooth, so I tried to keep my mouth closed at all times.
Besides the book, my wooden box also had all my magic tricks—a pack of marked cards, some gimmicked coins that I could change from nickels into dimes, and my most prized possession: a plastic thumb tip that could hide a silk scarf or a cigarette. That book and my magic tricks were very important to me—gifts from my father. I had spent hours and hours practicing with that thumb tip. Learning how to hold my hands so it wouldn’t be obvious and how to smoothly stuff the scarf or a cigarette inside it so that it would appear to magically disappear. I was able to fool my friends and our neighbors in the apartment complex. But today the thumb was missing.
Gone. Vanished. And I wasn’t too happy about it.
My brother, as usual, wasn’t home, but I figured maybe he had taken it or at least might know where it was. I didn’t know where he went every day, but I decided to get on my bike and go looking for him. That thumb tip was my most prized possession. Without it I was nothing. I needed my thumb back.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Beautiful Things 1

Part 1 Into the Magic Shop

1 Real Magic 13

2 A Body at Rest 25

3 Thinking About Thinking 57

4 Growing Pains 81

5 Three Wishes 107

Part 2 The Mysteries of the Brain

6 Apply Yourself 133

7 Unacceptable 153

8 It's Not Brain Surgery 177

9 The Sultan of Nothing 205

Part 3 The Secrets of the Heart

10 Giving Up 221

11 The Alphabet of the Heart 235

12 Manifesting Compassion 251

13 The Face of God 267

Acknowledgments 275

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Into the Magic Shop: A Neurosurgeon's Quest to Discover the Mysteries of the Brain and the Secrets of the Heart 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is the book on how to change your mindset, which will ultimately change your world! This story is inspiring, heartfelt, thought provoking, and lastly has such a positive impact on the reader when finished. It is a story that proves nothing is within reach if you have the right mindset! I would highly recommend this for anyone who needs to be uplifted and motivated to achieve their potential in life!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Some of the best advice for effective living. This is a gold mine for those seeking to better themselves and their lives. Easy,simple tools for developing skills to learn relaxation, focusing thoughts, clearing the mind and visualizing success. Olympic athletes utilize the same strategies. I want to give this book to everyone
Penmouse More than 1 year ago
Into the Magic Shop is a testament of how one person can change the life of another by making time to help someone in need of help. James R. Doty, MD was a poor kid growing up in Lancaster, California with a poor family background. Thanks to the compassion of Ruth, who he met at a local magic shop, his life was turned around. Doty's writing will keep you interested as it's lively and fast-paced. I stayed up far too late as I couldn't put his book down. Recommend. Review written after downloading a galley from NetGalley.
S-Car-Go More than 1 year ago
Excellent book! Highly recommend! Jim writes a compelling story about his life and draws you into his personal failures and triumphs in short order. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and have given the book to many friends. Ruth's tricks have helped me, especially when my frustration starts to build and anxiety. BTW: I can go to sleep more quickly when I use Ruth's tricks. Great book Jim! I wish you had another book to read that can inspire people to live and work better in their lives. Thank you for writing this book!
TheLiteraryPhoenix More than 1 year ago
I'm not all that impressed with Into the Magic Shop. While I can appreciate the anecdotal nature of the first part of the book where an old woman teaches a young Doty mindfulness under the guise of "magic", but I don't necessarily believe it. I believe that mindfulness is a great way to dispel and manage stress, but the way Doty presents it, honestly... this whole book feels like a humble brag. The entire second half of the book, after going through the steps of how suggests the reader practice mindfulness, follows with Doty discussion of how much money he is worth and how he just luckily stumbled into the position he is in by wishing for it. His narrative often made him sounds a little incompetent and impossibly lucky, and *that's* what I don't buy. Success takes some visualization, but it also takes a lot of hard work. Trust me, if you fail your classes and then visualize yourself getting into med school, you're not getting into med school, you know? The underlying themes are good here, but the writing and presentation are so egotistical. This wasn't the book for me.
Monique Tamayo More than 1 year ago
Amazing book. Was inspired by a BTS theory to read this and it's definitely helped me to achieve a better mindset. Overall good for people who strive to be a better person and to stay relaxed in stressful situations.