Compassion with Dr. James R. Doty & Erika Bennett

“Love is embracing the other, and recognizing that ultimately, the other is you. When you care for the other, you are actually caring for yourself.” —Dr. James Doty

Guest Bios

James R. Doty, M.D. is the founder and director of the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education (CCARE) at Stanford University of which His Holiness the Dalai Lama is the founding benefactor. He works with a variety of scientists from a number of disciplines examining the neural bases for compassion and altruism. Through CCARE, Dr. Doty has overseen the development of a variety of techniques, apps and programs to address issues of stress, anxiety and burnout through the lens of compassion that are used around the world and have positively changed the lives of hundreds of thousands.

He is also an adjunct professor in the Department of Neurosurgery at Stanford University School of Medicine. Dr. Doty is an inventor, entrepreneur, and philanthropist, having given support to charitable organizations supporting peace initiatives and providing healthcare throughout the world. He has supported research, provided scholarships, and endowed chairs at multiple universities.

Dr. Doty is on the Board of a number of nonprofits and is the former chairman of the Dalai Lama Foundation and the former vice-chair of the Charter for Compassion. He is the Senior Editor of the
Oxford Handbook of Compassion Science and is the author of the New York Times bestseller, “Into the Magic Shop: A Neurosurgeon's Quest to Discover the Mysteries of the Brain and the Secrets of the Heart” that has now been translated into 40 languages and served as the basis for the third album, Love Yourself: Tear of famous K-pop group, BTS. Dr. Doty’s work has been cited in numerous media including The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Washington Post, NBC, ABC and many others.

Erika Bennett is a 4th year medical student at Tulane School of Medicine, planning to go into Family Medicine. She grew up in Toronto, Canada and spent some time working in Shanghai, China, as well as Ottawa, Canada before moving to the US for medical school. She has an interest in the women's health and access to healthcare for the underserved. She is drawn to the topic of compassion for many reasons, one of which is that she feels more fulfilled the closer she is to working directly one-on-one with other humans and is interested in thinking about how compassion can be a driver for her work, and for community building.

Episode Pearls

A Summary of Dr. James Doty’s The Alphabet of the Heart:

C: Compassion: the recognition of the suffering of another with a desire to alleviate that suffering. This includes self-compassion.

D: Dignity. We have to look at another person and think: "They are just like me. They want what I want -- to be happy."

E: Equanimity is evenness of temperament even during difficult times, allowing for a clarity of mind and connection.

F: Forgiveness is one of the greatest gifts one can give to another, and to ourselves.

G: Gratitude: the recognition of the blessings of your life.

H: Humility: Every person has positive and negative attributes. It is only when we can look at each other as equals that we can truly connect.

I: Integrity requires intention. It requires defining and practicing your values in interactions with others.

J: Justice: recognition that within each of us there lives a desire to see that right be done.

K: Kindness: concern for others. Often thought of as the active component of compassion.

L: Love when given freely changes everyone and everything.


Further Reading

  • Into the Magic Shop by Dr. James Doty

  • Compassionomics: The Revolutionary Scientific Evidence That Caring Makes a Difference by Drs. Stephen Trzeciak and Anthony Mazzarelli

  • The Compassionate Connection: The Healing Power of Empathy and Mindful Listening by Dr. David Rakel

  • Awakening Compassion at Work: The Quiet Power That Elevates People and Organizations by Dr. Monica C. Worline and Jane E. Dutton

Reflection Questions

  1. Consider the Alphabet of the Heart, outlined above. Write down an example, from your own life, that comes to mind for each letter of the 10 included in the Alphabet. For compassion, be sure to include an example of both compassion towards another and towards yourself.

  2. What does having an open heart mean to you?

GOAL: What would you like to open your heart to this week?


Host: Dr. Rebekah Byrne, MD

Guest: Dr. James Doty, MD

Student Interviewer: Erika Bennett

Producer: Erika Bennett

Sound Design: Timothy Knowlton

Original Music (Composed & Performed): Timothy Knowlton