Jim Doty: Cure Negative Self-Talk, Be More Mindful & Build Compassion

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Jim Doty is a clinical professor of neurosurgery at Stanford University and founder and director of the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education at Stanford. These days he spends his time researching compassion and the links to our brains. He is also the author of the self-help book called Into the Magic Shop: A Neurosurgeon’s Quest to Discover the Mysteries of the Brain and the Secrets of the Heart.

This conversation was fascinating in it we talk about a whole bunch of things including neuroscience, mindfulness, medical school, negative self-talk, compassion and meeting the Dalai Lama.



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I found that when I did this practice Where I looked through the lens that Everyone was suffering the world changed Once I stopped that type of narrative in My head I realized that people were Actually much more Kinder and thoughtful And it changed everything in terms of my Interactions now what you're about to Hear is an interview between me and Professor Jim Doty Jim is a professor of Neurosurgery at Stanford school of Medicine and he's also the founder and Director of Stanford's Center for Compassion and altruism research and Education of which the Dalai Lama is in Fact the founding benefactor I was Walking through Stanford one day and I Had got a vision of The Dalai lava met With him we had a 15-minute appointment And it ended up going for an hour and a Half or so he gave the largest donation At that time he'd ever given to a Non-tibetan cause Jim has had an Incredibly illustrious career like Starting from very very humble Beginnings then getting into medical School he also became an entrepreneur And through that he got ridiculously Rich and then also donated tens of Millions of dollars to philanthropic Jose now Jim's interest these days is in The topic of compassion and how can we Cultivate a sense of self-compassion as Well and remove that negative self-talk

That a lot of us have about ourselves And how can we also cultivate the Feeling of compassion towards others When you sit there and make statements I Can't it's not possible it won't happen You're starting to encase yourself in a Prison and as the walls get higher gets Darker if you're able to understand that And able to deal with your negative Self-talk and be kind to yourself and Realize everyone is suffering then you Have an extraordinary opportunity to Change yourself and actually change the World At the moment according to the YouTube Analytics 81 of you who are watching This on YouTube have not yet hit the Subscribe button and so if you're for Example in the now 81 of people who are Watching this on YouTube but who are not Subscribed to the channel I would love It if you could do so and would be Awesome to get that number down to 50 And it would be cool to get like 50 50 Sub non-sub ratio just just for fun when Dan sent me a voice note saying that You're sort of the The Compassion guy I I I'd never come across like the science Of compassion or anything like that and And so I'm just incredibly interested in That because clearly Part of a good life is that feeling of Outwardness and service and selflessness And compassion but I didn't realize

There was a whole sort of combining Neuroscience with that well it's Interesting because uh I'm sure you've Know about mindfulness and mindfulness Was brought to the West if you will by John Cabot said And um He created a mindfulness practice Uh to deal with people with chronic pain Issues primarily And Um he's not a physician he actually I Think is PhD in molecular biology or Something I may be wrong but but he Created this program I want to do Research on it and did And over the course of decade a few Decades If you looked at the literature There was essentially none and then Probably took 20 years to see this huge Uptake in the literature on how Mindfulness affects your physiology the Interesting aspect about that why I Think it's beneficial is One part of it is if you will relax in The body and or what we call a body Survey because what that does is with Intention you relax your muscles and a Lot of people don't appreciate that they Carry stress in their muscles right And then the next part of it is a Breathing exercise or technique and Also when you're doing that

There are all sorts of thoughts that are Passing you buy when you're doing this Practice and for most people Especially negative self-talk if it's Going on you sort of your mind stops and Grabs that and starts trying to deal With it and what he teaches is to just Let that pass And so the reality is that it allows you To be much more focused instead of being Distracted And from a physiologic point of view If you're not attending to this negative Self-talk It allows you to be more present And it helps your physiology shift from A stress mode or engagement of your Sympathetic nervous system to engagement Of your rest and digest system so like What is mindfulness like how how would You how would you define it my My uneducated understanding of it is That really it's a series of techniques To be more present in the moment and Devote your attention to the thing that You're doing or your surroundings rather Than it You've just reiterated what I've said in Your speak Okay so you're exactly right Here is the problem with it so yes it Allows you to be present because you're Not distracted by these ongoing negative Thoughts in your head the problem with

It is though that as an example if you Are a hedge fund manager It allows you to be very focused on Potentially being very ruthless Right because you're focused on that You're not thinking of potentially the Negative consequences you might create For others you're not thinking about Anything else other than your goal to Maximize your return So it can take a person especially a Type a person and make them more Ruthless And this has nothing to do with Compassion at all either for self or Others and in fact in some instances This is why Um these types of companies promote People to do mindfulness because it does One thing it shifts you over to this Engagement of your parasympathetic Nervous system which calms you It gives you access to your executive Control functions which are impaired by Engagement of your sympathetic nervous System so in that situation you are more Reactive and you don't have access to Information To make better decisions okay right so There's nothing in it explicit about Compassion for self and others right and I've had a number of conversations with John about this he says well let's Implicit but the fact of the matter is

That's not necessarily the case And what I have done is to create a Technique which I think is now adopted Uh and in fact you probably don't know This but as I was talking about Mindfulness that became the new buzzword Right now over the last few years it's Always compassion and mindfulness okay Right it gets together yes and and and I Would take some credit for uh uh making That a reality and don't get me wrong There are a number of other people Working in this area in the same area But when I started looking at this at Stanford in 2008 And I spoke to academics about you know I'm interested in understanding the Neuroscience of compassion and the Psychology behind it I was told that the Study of compassion from an academic Perspective was a dead end oh why uh Because many people felt that it is weak And unlike quantitative science Psychology is qualitative science right And and some people can dismiss that so What I did was I gathered a group of Academics together simply to Explore this and have a discussion then It turned into sort of a journal club And I was fortunate in that I had the Resources To fund these guys and pay for some Research which always gets the attention

Of academics who you know live for you Know how do I survive so and what Happened is I gathered a group of people Together and over a period of a few Years they were quite impressed not only With literature that was being published Or had been published but work that we Had done And in fact two of them switched their Focus to focusing on compassion Okay so it's very very powerful and I Mentioned uh a few years ago I think in 2017 maybe 2018 Uh I uh was a senior editor on a book Um published by Oxford University press Called the handbook of compassion Science And so uh which covers the whole gamut Of of this field how did you get Interested in compassion in the first Place because it seemed to me a like If you if you're a professor of Psychology or even neurology I might Have I was okay you know recently but Like going from neurosurgery to then Compassion like what what was the Connection for you Sure All of us are manifestations of our past Right you know we're just talking about Your background you I'm sure was were Heavily at fluids by your parents or Your environment or the people you were Around and I think that's true of

Everyone So in my case there is often an Assumption That if you're a neurosurgeon or a Highly educated that you come from an Affluent background so that was not the Case with me and it's interesting Because especially if you're white and You dress the part you speak the part And you act the part then you get into The club yeah that's just the way And that was evident to me Um so I grew up uh in poverty my father Was an alcoholic my mother when I was Young had a stroke and uh was partially Paralyzed it was hemiplegic and um She had a seizure disorder and she was Chronically depressed and attempted Suicide wow uh we were actually evicted From multiple residences and as you well Know when children grow up in that type Of an environment the likelihood for Them to achieve Success in what is defined by Western Society is quite low and that's why you Have this Measuring system called adverse Childhood experiences right where you You know say it was there drug and Alcohol abuse uh was there mental Illness was their poverty et cetera et Cetera and the higher that number The less likely you are going to achieve And the more likely you're going to be

Uh a drug or alcohol addict or uh Mentally ill or in poverty and so Um At the age of 12 uh even though I was Reasonably bright I did not have either Parents who Had the ability to guide me Nor resources nor mentors And so I had a feeling of hopelessness and Despair for obvious reasons And what changed was that when things Got particularly difficult at my house I would get on my bicycle and ride as Far in as fast as way as I could And one time I did that and I ended up At us what we call a strip mall in the United States I don't know dude what do You call them here these so it's a Collection of shops shopping mall or Shopping Center yeah yeah and so I I Ended up at one of those and and there Was a magic shop there And Um I had been interested in Magic Um so I went in and there was a woman There at the counter in her probably Mid-50s early 50s And Um she greeted me with A radiant smile And she was you know I still remember This very well she was a bit overweight She was wearing a a blue moo moo do you

Know what a moomoo is it's like a it's a Sheet that basically The basically hide your curves okay but It was very popular the the the 60s and 70s but anyway uh and she had this long Flowing gray hair and she had these Glasses on the end of her nose with you Know a chain in the back and was reading This thick paper back and so she looked Up at me and she greeted me with this Incredible smile and uh I started asking Her some questions about magic and she Said Don't ask me any questions about magic Because this is my son's store he's Running an errand and uh uh I'm just Minding the store But we ended up chatting and it turned Out that she was there for six weeks During the summer and um for somebody Like me in that situation you Already appreciate at least if you have Insight and self-awareness that you're You're being judged right by the way You're dressed Uh uh uh and a whole sort a whole number Of other cues that people use to assess Who you are or at least who they think You are and you know it's a shortcutting System that Anomaly allows you to be more efficient In your assessments right uh but it Certainly has some shortcuts but anyway Uh we began a conversation

And she was actually giving me uh Feeding me uh Chips Ahoy chocolate chip Cookies and which of course garnered my Interest as well uh but um after a while She said to me she said you know what I Really like you and she had asked some Actually penetrating questions which I Would never typically answer for Somebody like where do you live uh what Do your parents do And and I answered them honestly and she Said so I'm here for another six weeks If you show up every day I'll teach you Something that I think could really help You And uh she didn't Define it necessarily And uh ultimately this was a Fundamentally a mindfulness practice oh Okay so what happened is I ended up Showing up every day And she taught me a Mindfulness practice which initially as We were actually talking about a little Bit earlier a relaxant relaxation Technique and I had never appreciated That I was tense all the time And what happens when you come from an Environment like mine it's chaotic right You never know what's going to happen You know your mate your father may break Through the door and drunk She may have a seizure you have to take Her to the emergency room So you never know so as a result you're

Like in a war zone all the time yeah and You're you're sitting there trying to Figure out and you can't attend or be Present because your mind is always Trying to figure out what's going to Happen next So the first thing she taught me was This relaxation technique really I mean Literally going from your toes to the Top of your head to relax your muscles Then she um taught me a breathing Exercise so the standard Um techniques for mindfulness practice And you have to remember though this was Before mindfulness was really discussed Anywhere and um And it turned out And I'm guessing I don't know this Actually Uh that she probably had some experience With Eastern religious practice and you Know it's the time of the summer of love And all of that stuff so it I'm sure it Had related to that but anyway she Taught me those two practices And uh and I have to say as a 12 year Old I mean to be bluntly honest with you I initially thought it was just a bunch Of BS right I've never been exposed and You know imagine sitting in the back Room with the woman yeah in her 50s yeah Wearing the Momo thing yeah yeah yeah no It's very bizarre but uh anyway uh I did Notice it started to have some effect I

Was being more relaxed I was able not to Get lost in my negative thoughts because When you grow up in those types of Environments you have a lot of negative Thoughts I'm not worthy I'm not good Enough you have a lot of Shame and Um and I would suggest everyone has that It's just that degrees to which they Have that but uh I never appreciated That And I thought those negative thoughts Were truth Right uh And I didn't realize that there was an Actually an evolutionary basis for it so In our Evolution as a species Uh as an example and remember our DNA Has not changed over the last 200 000 Years Uh on the Savannah in Africa as an Example if you saw the grass move you Assume there's probably a predator there What that does is that engages your Sympathetic nervous system with all the Consequences uh you know increasing your Heart rate increasing your blood Pressure release of catecholamines Increase stress hormones Shifting the uh Blood into your skeletal muscle from Your your GI tract and your pupils Dilate et cetera et cetera and you know You see that you run off and if you Survive if it worked and if it did it Didn't matter but anyway uh um so

We are Very Attuned to negativity because you see That puts us at risk if we don't attend To it the problem is that there's an Overlap between that and Negative self-talk and the negative Self-top talk sticks to you Very much so uh As a result I did not Understand that it is a creation it's Not necessarily truth so the she made me Aware that I could change the negative Self-talk To uh self-affirmation and positivity And what this ultimately translates into Is what Kristen Neff and Chris German a Variety of other people uh have studied Which is self-compassion Uh and so what does that do well when You're overwhelmed with negative Self-talk that stimulates your Sympathetic nervous system and what does That do it has the consequence of Increasing your heart rate increasing Your blood pressure releasing Catecholamines releasing stress hormones Uh depressing your immune system uh Resulting in the release of Uh inflammatory proteins which are Associated with chronic disease States And if you respond to the negative Self-talk obviously it has very bad Health consequences

So if you're able to be kind to yourself Give yourself words of affirmation yeah Then that shifts you over to engagement Of your parasympathetic nervous system So So I I get the kind of relaxing the Muscles thing and the breathing exercise Is bad when when does the So you know I'm I'm relaxed I'm going to Pass some parasympathetic state Where does the awareness of the Self-talk and the negative self-talk Come in and where does the sort of over Is it overriding that with positive Affirmations yeah yeah I mean it comes in when you start so the First step is relaxation the next step Is let's say the breathing exercise That's one technique the very nature of Doing the breathing exercises helps Shift you over to the parasympathetic Nervous system and it also uh helps Not respond to the negative self-talk But you can make it more powerful by With intention giving yourself positive Affirmations and once you engage the Parasympathetic nervous system Then you look through a different lens Because the one lens of sympathetic Nervous system engagement is the fierce State yeah right and you know this Flight fright or freeze mode well then If you shift if you will to the love Mode which is the for this bifurcation

When you have engaged your Parasympathetic nervous system you're Looking through the lens of Lack of fear being open being generous Being thoughtful because you see you're Not afraid anymore of your survival and You have an understanding that there are Resources for you right you're not Afraid anymore and so it changes Everything and what I mean by that is One When you are able to be kind to yourself Obviously as I said it shifts you into Engagement of your parasympathetic Nervous system Uh with all the associated a positive Physiological effects but also brain Effects where it engages your pleasure And reward systems so you feel nice you Feel kind okay but it has some even more Powerful effect because when you stop Beating yourself up Then it allows you to see the world Through a different lens Because if you're negative to yourself If you're hyper critical to yourself Then you become judgmental and Hypercritical of others around you Versus having a sense one that like you Everyone else is suffering And two that Um Everyone is in fear of being judged So then

You change Sort of the energy you emanate In the world and uh and what I found for Myself was you know if you're angry and Hostile as I was as a child that does Have a relationship with your Relationships with other people right Because as humans we're very in tuned to The emotional states of others I mean We're highly attuned and so if you're Putting out that energy then people Respond to you not necessarily in a Positive way you know it's like I'm sure You've probably experienced you're Walking down the street and you see Somebody and you have this sort of Judgment you've made that there's Something going on you know what now Unfortunately that can be tempered by Uh unconscious bias about race or Assessment of uh whether they could Potentially be a criminal or something But also uh emotional state because They're carrying this anger and Tenseness and you subconsciously are Tuned to that and I found that when I Did this practice where I was kind to Myself where I looked through the lens That everyone was suffering then the World changed because once I stopped That type of narrative in my head I Realized that people were actually much More Kinder and thoughtful and it Changed everything in terms of my

Interactions but the other more Important thing in terms of my parental Interaction was I used to have a lot of Anger and hostility because my parents Weren't always there for me but what I Realized was that They had not been given the tools To help their own pain right because as We talked about earlier we are products Of our past and if you've suffered been Abused had problems And you don't know how to deal with that And then you turn to alcohol or you get Depressed It's not your fault right yeah so I Stopped blaming them And changed how I looked at them And uh and I realized That you know they wanted to love and Give that they just didn't have the Ability but didn't that change how I Reacted to them right because it allowed Me to not have anger about that anymore Right This episode is very kindly brought to You by trading212. now people ask me all The time for advice about investing Because I've made a bunch of videos About it on the YouTube channel and my Advice for most people is generally Invest in Broad stock market index funds Which is exactly what you can do Completely for free with trading 212. It's a great app that lets you trade

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Was it that made you come around like Yeah well look I mean to be frank with You I mean it's a 12 year old you're not Particularly sophisticated especially For my background but what came around Was uh uh you know I did give it the Benefit of the doubt And they started having a fact you know I realized I wasn't as tense I didn't Get as agitated anymore uh I wasn't Um constantly elsewhere And I could look through a lens that was A Kinder gentler lens and so I was much Happier oh and and you noticed those Effects like when you were young yeah Yeah so you know I mean after a few Weeks of doing these exercises even my Parents noticed a difference Well what did they say like well just That I wasn't as Angry yeah uh That uh I frankly I was much nicer wow Yeah so what happened next in the in the Story well so uh a couple things so one Uh you know we did this relaxing the Body if you want to talk call it taming The mind Um Learning self-compassion and then Learning compassion so the next thing She taught me was manifestation of Intention and Um And again this was before we talked

About neuroplasticity yeah and I'm sure You're aware Sports psychologists they Talk about visualizing what you're going To do and of course uh at that time Um That did not really exist per se but What she said was I want you to write Down the things that you want to think Are important in your life what you want To manifest and I did now as a 12 year Old some of them were not realistic it Was like you know I wanted to have a Rolex one Or uh uh I want to live in a mansion or I wanted to be a millionaire uh but the Others were you know I wanted to be a Doctor okay and the reason that was was Because when I was in fourth grade Um A doctor came to my class and I was so Moved and impressed by him that and how He treated me and interacted with me That at that moment I decided to be a Doctor now you know coming from poverty With my background saying you want to be A doctor and becoming a doctor far Different but uh that stayed with me and So I made this list and she would say I Want you to read the list multiple times A day I want you to read it aloud I want You to read it silently to yourself I Want you to visualize Each of these things occurring and how You know you would be in that situation

And I did that and I did it very Religiously and uh uh so it made me Believe these things were possible and So then you're in in middle school high School in your you've got your hot set On being a doctor correct Wow where did you go to Medical School Uh Uh at Tulane University in New Orleans But there's an interesting story related To that because the typical path to have Things manifest that was probably the Case in in your situation was you Studied really hard you were very good Academically and you utilizes the Resources that were available to you Well it's a bit different if you've Never had those resources right I mean You can be bright but if you don't know How to take tests Yeah you're not gonna succeed so and if You even don't even have knowledge of How to even apply to college yeah Because you don't have Role Models right Or mentors so as an example when I Applied to Um College here's how it happened I was in A science class And uh there was a girl next to me Filling out an application And I asked her what it was and she said It's my college application I had no Idea it was time to buy to college so

Um I said to her I said well where are You going to college and she said well I'm going to use University of California Irvine And uh I said oh well that's great I said you Know I I haven't gotten my application Yet and uh uh she said uh and and she Asked me where are you going to college I had no idea I said I'm going to use Here So she said well I have an extra Application and that that was my process Too so I applied to one college and got Into one college Okay Because normally in the US system you Apply to like most people apply to lots And of course yeah and so you just Happened to sit next to person someone Applying to UC Irvine that was it you Filled in the application form and you Got in yep and where were you living at The time were you were you in California Yeah yeah uh in the high desert okay so So that's how I ended up at college and Now the reality is Um If you don't have the academic Background in high school Uh you don't understand how College Works and I had to leave at different Times to go home to attend to of course Challenging family situations you know

Getting my father out of jail dealing With my mother being in the hospital So I missed a lot of class and you know The sad thing is that If you tell people even your friends Sometimes you know I want to do this I Have this aspiration to this instead of Saying that's fantastic go do it what do They say well you'll never do that or Why would you even think that you could Do that right and it's unfortunate right Uh and it's oftentimes because They don't want to see you do it because They can't do it yeah or they don't want To see as a competitor to them and it's Just the way human nature is Unfortunately So anyway when it uh when it came time To apply to med school which I was Attuned to but by this time Um It was evident I wasn't even going to Graduate oh wow Because I had left several times right Then you know there's certain key Courses you need so Um at UC Irvine at that time you Actually had to get a letter of Recommendation from the pre-med Committee So you had to go before them and then They would ask a series of questions And depending on how you answered or how They were biased

Uh that determines whether you get a Letter that says highly recommended or Uh recommended with reservation which Tells you that's not a recommendation so Um So what happened was I went to uh Actually make this appointment With the at the office and uh I go up There and I said you know I'd like to Make an appointment for the interview Committee for med school and the woman Uh says man okay let me get your file Looks at it then turns to me and she Says I'm not going to give you an Appointment Oh wow and I said why and she said It would be a waste of everyone's time Because at that time the average GPA to Get into medical school was 3.79 my Grade point average was 2.53 and I was Not going to graduate So okay Uh So I look at this lady yeah and I said You know I appreciate what you're saying But I'm not leaving here until you give Me a deployment And I said you know if you want to call Security that's fine but I'm not leaving So she does give me an appointment and So it comes time for the appointment now Have you seen these pictures with Putin At the end of a long table uh yeah Right it's like forever anyway so what

Happens is I walk into this room and There's one of these long rectangular Tables and there are three people at the End and I'm like at the other end and uh The guy there are two women on the other Side of the guy and then there's this Guy at the center who's clearly in Charge and you know how you walk in a Room and people are sitting with their Arms crossed which also is obviously a Very bad sign so uh I walk in there and The guy in the center has my file and he Lifts it up and he throws it on the Table And he says say what you have to say so We get this over with [Laughter] So uh I look at the guy and I said who gave You the right to destroy people's dreams I said there's not one shred of evidence That Uh having a 4.0 Uh makes you a better doctor and in fact Having simply above average intelligence Actually can make somebody fine doctor And I said I'm not going to allow you to Objectify me into a grade because you Know nothing about me So I went on this diet about 50 to 20 Minutes And they ended up all cried yeah So then um what happened is they ended

Up giving me the highest letter of Recommendation wow and then what Happened is the woman the secretary was Not going to give me the appointment she Was actually in the room and She came to me as I was you know packing Up my stuff to leave and she said why Don't you take this and I looked at it And what it was was it was an Application Actually to a summer enrichment program At Tulane Medical School for Socio-economically disadvantaged Students and minority students And she said you know I think this could Really be beneficial to you but I have To tell you the deadline has passed but I don't think that'll apply to you So what happened was I called the lady Up and she uh gave me a position that Summer program and again Uh uh I applied to one Medical And they accepted me with that GPA and Without a degree my goodness yeah yeah Wow yeah so so it's not the usual Medical school not at all the usual Medical school right now let me fast Forward a little bit yeah First of all I did find in medical School so uh now um Tulane is in New Orleans and that was where they were Flooding associated with Hurricane Katrina the medical school closed for Two years they had to go to they shipped

The medical students to Um Baylor University and actually the dean Moved there and he actually got Depressed and he resigned so Uh you know for me obviously this is Many many years afterwards I ended up You know not only becoming a Neurosurgeon a professor at Stanford but I also became an entrepreneur and there May be a company you might be aware of Called accurate they make something Called the CyberKnife okay and so I Actually ended up helping develop that Technology and running the company oh Wow uh so long story short though so They were looking for a new Dean and he Wanted an endowed chair and I don't know If they have those here but in the U.S That's a high academic honor but and now Chairs are endowed by somebody a Philanthropist and so I Ended up giving several million dollars To endow the dean's chair so the President Dean Remains the Dodie Professor Uh and so he's the dean of the medical School I'm On The Board of Governors and On the University's presidential Council And so what it shows is that none of us Have the ability To predict Whether someone will or will not succeed And the typical criteria which many

People use because you know grades are Artificial criteria right you say okay You know what's the difference between Somebody having a 3.4 to 3.5 nothing Yeah It's an artificial criteria so people Don't have to think right it's the first Cut and uh yeah there are tons of people Who are cut who shouldn't be cut because The nature of compassion oftentimes is The degree of suffering you've had yeah Right and you know I certainly know Individuals from Fluent backgrounds who were not nice People at all And and this is not to criticize people From affluent background I'm just Stating there is a subset of people like That and I assume probably from poor Backgrounds are nice people but my point Is that There's no clear-cut Statement as to who those people really Are and this is why oftentimes it's much More than just uh you know saying oh Well he had a really good GPA and that's Why he got then and I guess in a system Where that's so oversubscribed like College admissions and medical like of Course they need these very blunt Arbitrary instruments to cut people Exactly and your 20 minute die tribe Moved people sufficiently emotionally to Put you on this career path yeah and so

This is also to say to people uh you Shouldn't Misjudge or under judge or be Hypercritical to yourself Because When you have this negative self-talk What it does is it takes your own agency Away and what I mean by that is when you Sit there and make statements I can't It's not possible it won't happen you Start team to build bricks to encase Yourself in a prison and as the walls Get higher it gets darker and uh you Know the reality is once somebody Connect can connect with their own inner Power that can change everything and uh Yet if you build this prison you can't See other possibilities so If you're able to understand that and Able to deal with your negative Self-talk and be kind to yourself and Realize everyone is suffering then you Have an extraordinary opportunity to Change yourself and actually change the World Okay so you're in met like what was Your experience in med school like I I Guess because your background would have Been quite unusual in med school mostly People in med school tend to be fairly Affluent so what what was that Experience like for you well so as I Said If you're white typically uh if you look

The part and you act the part you're Assumed to be the part And you know the I was attuned to that Very early Uh and I typically did not share Anything about my background with people Uh and uh And so and most of the people were as You described they're from affluent Backgrounds and There's a difference be between Cognitively thinking of people in Poverty or people suffering versus Actually having lived in those Situations in terms of how you're Reacting your sensitivity to that Um but no I I didn't have any uh issues And you know I fit in and uh uh So it wasn't a a problem and so you went For neurosurgery residency Yes Why why are you a surgery I'm just Curious so Are you really going in in depth here Your readers are are listeners wow Um So what happened was I initially thought I was going to be a Family practice doctor okay because I Had this naive image that I could you Know deliver babies be a pediatrician Caring for you know young couples Heading out all the way to geriatrics And I had the sort of naive impression I

Was going to have this office with kids And everybody running around and at Least in the United States unless you're Living in some remote part of Alaska That's not going to happen because You're held to the standard of the Specialist in whatever you do and Certainly in more modern times I hate to say it but oftentimes Family Physicians simply become referring Agents it's a specialist and you know uh And that's not to say they're not some Brilliant ones but that's very common And I uh first of all when I realized What that really was I didn't want to be That per se and but the other thing that Was probably more important was uh I had Done a rotation And had been exposed to neurosurgeons at Least the subset I met with were very Kind nice people and encouraging but the Other part was that I had Decided my personality was more of a Surgeon Uh and uh I wanted to do craniofacial surgery in Children And to do that you have to do a surgery Specialty then you do a plastic surgery Fellowship then you do a craniofacial Fellowship and uh oh and what I didn't Mention was because I didn't have the Money to pay for medical school I Accepted a scholarship from the Army

Okay and so Um They paid my way through medical school But uh you know I had out the army time So I was going to do general surgery And when I started to deal with bowel I did not like that Yeah I mean it you know I I was very Aesthetically oriented you know dealing With people's colons and uh stuff so I Decided that wasn't for me yeah and uh And again I was in the Army he wanted to Go as far away from the Bible yes yes And I'd rotate on neurosurgery and the Guys were nice and so they encouraged me To apply to Neurosurgery Now the interesting thing about that was That The Army at that time trained one Neurosurgeon a year in the entire Army So it's a highly competitive uh Application and Um and I actually Decided to do it after the applications Were in because that's that's when I Wrote it on neurosurgery yeah so I what I did was I took a month my month Vacation and actually went to Walter Reed where they trained the neurosurgeon And spent a month on the service And then at the end I met with the chief Or chairman of and uh he said you know Jimmy did a great job et cetera Etc he Said we have a three-year wait

Uh and um So I'm happy to consider you in three Years and you can go off as a general Medical officer so I looked at him I Said well that's unacceptable That's the bullsey yeah So what happened was uh uh uh I applied For the program for the next year and he Like I said told me that was already Filled for three years and um In the interval interestingly enough the Guy who was slotted for that position Was working in a uh a general infirmary There and he was dating the nurse who Headed the neurosurgery Ward and they Had a falling out okay and I don't know What exactly happened but she complained To the chairman of neurosurgery and he Fired the guy before except and he got Sent off to South Korea as a general Medical officer for the rest of his time And so then uh he called me up he said Well you know we have a senate open The power of manifestation yeah exactly So I took that position and there's There you have it and so yeah And so you trained in neurosurgery Residency but like with the Army yeah so Does that mean you rotate through Army Hospitals uh yeah well Walter Reed you Stay at Walter Reed for six years oh of Course yeah because once you yeah yeah You're rotating all over the place yeah And and now it's interesting because at

That time if she did your residency in The Army you did not owe any further Time Beyond your been paid for medical school Right well if you went outside of the Army for neurosurgery residency you owed One year for every year they supported You oh so imagine yeah so you could have Seven years and then you owe seven years So you're forced 14 years and by that Time you might as well retire from the Army as a neurosurgeon so I was Fortunate in that I didn't know any time Other than that they paid three years of Medical school for me so uh uh so was it Mostly like a traumatic brain injury That you would be dealing with like from People in the army or Army hospitals are Kind of like normal hospitals that you Might get no they're they're all or Something yeah because you know uh the Military provides care for not only the Soldiers but for their families right Okay so you're doing all sorts yeah you Did everything and so it wasn't trauma In fact that was probably the lowest Amount of stuff that we did right Because there's no war going on in the United States Uh you know certainly with the Iraq War And said they took neurosurgeons and Sent them out in the field but in General most neurosurgeons did standard Neurosurgery were you ever sent out into

The field uh no uh I uh the only close Call if you will was there was a uh uh I Don't know if you remember this but There was an Invasion of Grenada the Island All right yeah and and what happened was That there were some Americans who uh Were uh going to the medical school in Grenade oh yeah and so what happened was They they called forth uh doctors to go To Grenada but it was like one week yeah And it wasn't neurosurge But that event occurred while I was uh Uh now the interesting thing is though As my time ended the Kuwait Iraq thing Happened and I was like literally Supposed to I was signing out of the military right I was done well like a week before they Reactivated everyone oh well and kept me In the military and the thing was you Know I had already bought a home I Accepted a job And uh you know you could imagine how After I spent my time and I was Literally leaving the Army yeah that They called me back now I was fortunate And then I and knew the Surgeon General And I called him directly and they let Me go And it wasn't because I had any problem Doing it but I had served my time and we Were done and I you know would have been Catastrophic right I bought a house uh I

Accepted a job and what am I going to do You know because you know the difference They pay you in the army versus Private Practice it's 90 percent less in the Army yeah Yeah so this episode is very kindly Brought to you by wework now this is Particularly exciting for me because I Have been a full paying customer of Wework for the last two years now I Discovered it during you know when the Pandemic was in the on the verge of Being lifted and I'd spent like the Whole year just sort of sitting in my Room making YouTube videos but then I Discovered wework and I was a member me And Angus my team members we were Members of the wework in Cambridge and They have like hundreds of other Locations worldwide as well and it was Incredible because we had this fantastic Beautifully designed office space to go To to work and we found ourselves like Every day just at nine o'clock in the Morning just going to wework because it Was a way nicer experience working from The co-working space than it was just Sitting at home working these days what Me and everyone in my team has is the All access pass which means you're not Tied to a specific wework location but It means you can use any of their Several hundred co-working spaces around London around the UK and also around the

World and one of the things I really Love about the co-working setup is that It's fantastic as a bit of a change of Scenery so these days I work from home I've got the studio at home but if I Need to get some focused writing work Done and I've been I'm feeling a bit Drained just sitting at my desk all day I'll just pop over to the local wework Which is about a 10 minute walk from Where I am I'll take my laptop with me I've got some free coffee from there I'll get a few snacks and it's just such A great Vibe and you get to meet cool People I've made a few friends through Meeting them at wework and it's just Really nice being in an environment Almost like a library but kind of nicer Because there's like a little bit of Soft music in the background and there's Other kind of startup Bros and creators And stuff in in there as well and it's Just my absolute favorite co-working Space of all time it's super easy to Book a desk or book a conference room Using the app and it's a great place to Meet up with team members if you're Going to collaborate and you'll live in Different places they've got unlimited Tea and coffee and herbal teas and Drinks on tap and they've also got Various kind of after work events that Happen like happy hours and yoga and a Few other exercise type things and you

Can also take in guests so often when Guests will come over to visit I'll say Hey let's pop into wework and we'll just Work from there for the whole day and Then we'll go out for dinner sometime in The evening anyway if you're looking for A co-working space for you or your team Then I'd 100 recommend we work like I Said I've been a pain customer for Theirs for the last two years which is Why it's particularly exciting that They're now sponsoring this episode and If you want to get 50 off your first Booking then do head over to we.com Forward slash Ali and you can use the Coupon code Ali at checkout Ali to get 50 of your first booking so thank you so Much wework for sponsoring this episode Did you ever go to Grenada for no Because I ended up uh visiting that Medical school in Grenada a few years Ago like in the middle of my own like Surgery placement in med school because My mum was teaching some of the stuff There and she had a plus one so I had to Happen to visit St George's University In Grenada yeah let's hang out with some Students there Um so at this point you've you're you're Fully specialized into Neurosurgery Having having stalked your Wikipedia Page like there's a bunch of stuff that Happened then like you became professor Of neurosurgery you started the

Companies I'd love to fast forward to The compassion stuff which I understand Around about 2007 yeah so at that point Were you like retiring from clinical Practice like what what did that look Like and how did you get into the Compassion stuff so You know the nature of my story and Interaction with this woman and sort of What I had gone through uh I always Wondered what motivates people to do Good or not And uh what had happened was I And periodically I've been at Stanford Since 97 on and off and and I think Tooth I had left in 2000 Uh maybe 2001 to uh Maybe it was earlier I can't remember But anyway at somewhere around that time I started entrepreneurial Endeavor okay And Um As that was uh and then the.com crisis Came and everything collapsed but what Happened was then Um I started another company and I would Intermittently work at Stanford and then Uh I used to consult for developing Neuroscience centers of excellence And I went down to Mississippi actually On the Gulf Coast and uh they asked me To set up a plan for them which I did And it was unfortunate because here you

Have this very nice Indigent Hospital Unfortunately uh and the local doctors Didn't want to work there because There's a lot of indigent patients and Unfortunately the sad part is You know they'll abrogate their Responsibility to care for people For money yeah and so the people who Need them the most they won't care for Them so there was no neurosurgery there Was no neurology there's no orthopedic Surgery uh uh there is no pain Management there is no neuro ICU there's So I laid out a four or five year plan For them and said here's how much it's Going to cost here's what you have to do You can't recruit doctors And saying Oh Come cover our emergency Room I mean that's the worst recruiting Vehicle yeah I said what you have to do Is you have to create a narrative that You're creating a center of excellence And the call is part of it but the Overline theme is to create a very high Quality program with Specialists you Interact with who are very competent and Uh so that was the narrative that was Created because you know if you use the Come to our ER especially in Southern Mississippi well you get you get one of Three types of people or they have all These attributes it's either somebody Recovering from drug and alcohol abuse It's a personality disorder or somebody

Who's gone through a horrific divorce oh Okay so that's not the sort of thing People doctors would be signing up to no No no no this isn't like uh being in Newport Beach Southern California Overlooking the ocean and highly Affluent in the background so anyway uh We were able to recruit some excellent People but the thing was though that They wanted me to run it Because I was the inspiration for doing It so I agreed to do it and I was there For and I listen I talked to my wife About this and visited six times and so I decided to do it and then Um You know my family moved there and about A few weeks after this my wife says I Can't I killed him oh wow I live in Mississippi yeah and and you know I look I've committed to this and then Hurricane Katrina happens And I can't like just leave Yeah and this was after I was there About two years uh so my wife said I'm Not living here anymore so she moved Back to California and then I continued To work there and then what happened I Would progressively take longer and Longer breaks to go to California and Then I recruited some other people and At the end of it you know here we have Full neurosurgery full neurology full Orthopedics full pain management we

Created neuroic with neuroflor we Created a Brain and Spine and and brain Brain injury spine stroke Rehabilitation Center the only one certified in the State of Mississippi actually and so it Was an incredible accomplishment to do That and they in fact obviously wanted Me to stay but I said you know I'll be Divorced and they said well we'll offer You But anyway uh I I ultimately left and And it was at that point that I decided To go back to Stanford and they were Kind enough to offer me a position and Then so it was during this period where I was reflecting on You know what causes people to do good Not good and so I decided when I got Back to Stanford I was going to explore This So it initially started out as something Called Project Compassion yeah And I just gathered these people Together these scientists and we started Doing some research and then uh what Happened was that obviously the results Were very positive and Um and this is will sound strange Because I'm an atheist and I was walking Through Stanford one day and I had it Got a vision of The Dalai lava and uh And it persisted And to the point where I couldn't get it Out of my head right and and uh I was

Not a fan of or follower of the Dilemma Clearly though he's represents Compassion yeah So and in fact my wife was a big Follower and he had been in uh at Stanford and like doing some programs in The local area a few years before and my Wife actually bought tickets and I Refused to go So anyway I had this vision and I said Geez you know I need to invite the Dilemma to Stanford and do a program on Compassion and long story short I was Able to get access to him and get an Appointment And uh met with him and uh we had a 15-minute appointment and it ended up Going For an hour and a half or so And he immediately agreed to come to Stanford uh so I just got a question on That front what was it like meeting him In person from accounts I've read of This uh Michael singers book is this Says that sort of this energy that you Can just sort of feel and is like Palpable and did you get any of the that Kind of no I think that's true and and You get a sense of unconditional love Which is all of us want right and uh and It is very powerful and this is why so Many people love the Dalai Lama want to Have proximity to him so we had this Meeting and near the end of it

Um and he speaks perfectly English but He always has an English translator for Subtleties of the English language Idioms and things like this so at the End of it his translator turns to me Says Jim his Holiness is so moved by This endeavor he wants to make a Donation to your work oh and so he gave The largest donation at that time he'd Ever given to a non-tibetan Cause And then what happened was two other Individuals each gave a million dollars And of course now I have the significant Amount of money So then I met with the medical school Dean and said look I've got this man I'd Like to set up the center and it was Sort of interesting he says well what Expertise do you have in this area Uh other than intuitive uh uh and so What he did was he pulled in the um uh Director of the Neuroscience Institute Who was a friend of mine and my chairman Of neurosurgeon they said look I'll Support this creation of the center but Um if it doesn't work out you two guys Or the guys are gonna be true So anyway it worked out perfectly fine And uh and so that's how the center uh Was created as a formal Center in the School of medicine and then what Happened was I became friends with the Dalai Lama and Um I ultimately became chairman of The

Dalai Lama foundation for a number of Years and he and I grew very close and I Spent a relatively a significant amount Of time with him and uh Yeah there you have it what is it what Does it mean to create a center I'm sure if you've been at Cambridge There are there's probably a center for AI and there's a center for yeah That's exact same like a building with Some people who are trying to research I Think yes exactly exactly yeah okay and So you recruit the academics and the Postdocs and phds and fund research on The Facebook yeah passion yes now I Would say since I don't have a PhD We collaborated with a number of people Who have postdocs and stuff like that But uh uh yeah that's how it works okay And so that was around about 2007 so What's been What did you I guess find out about Compassion which ended up in the book I'm sure yeah well I I mean basically I've shared a lot of it just in our Conversation about its uh effects on the Brain and how uh The brain responds to threat and how it Affects certain centers of your brain or Stimulates reward centers or things like That and so uh you know we've published A number of studies basically in that Domain and then Um

Additionally we've done a few other Things one is we created uh Two academic lectures one for senior Investigator one for Junior Investigator Where they come and talk about their Research on compassion We Created Um Something called conversations on Compassion and actually this is a very Selfish thing I just sit on stage with Somebody I think is interesting and That's why I do this podcast yeah Exactly and talk about people yeah and So you know I've had the Dalai Lama Tiknot Han uh Amma the hugging Saint uh SRI SRI Ravi Shankar and a variety of Folks like that Eckhart Tolle uh Byron Katie and then also other people are Interesting people In the corporate space uh people who are Teachers in the context of certain types Of compassion practices uh scientists Paul Ekman who studied emotion and a Whole variety of other people like that So then we've created different training Programs Uh so as you know there's a training Program for mindfulness as I mentioned To you though I think It that type of training though goes Beyond that it should include Self-compassion yeah and compassion for

Others so we created a eight-week Program called compassion cultivation Training of which there have been Thousands of people trained all over the World and that's still an ongoing Program more recently we created Something called cultivating the heart Which is a similar type of eight-week Program Uh and now we have something called the Applied compassion training program Which is an 11 month long certificate Program With people from the corporate Environment Health Care uh sort of the Mind Body Wellness space and they spend 11 months it's all online now for Obvious reasons um and then we help them Or Mentor them in the development of a Capstone project Uh which then they take back to their Organization and Implement and typically We train about 500 a year from I think 60 different countries and uh so it gets Spread all over the world until with the Aim of helping people become more Compassionate towards themselves and Towards others yeah Nice Um what does a study on compassion look Like like what what is an archetypal Study that you might do at this at the Center as an example uh let's say with Compassion cultivation training we

Recruit a group of people who part of Them we do the compassion cultivation Training part of them we do A different type of training uh actually Like an improvisational words and the Others just don't do anything and then We monitor different effects So one is self-report One is biological markers like cortisol Levels one is Imaging studies like Functional MRI where we look at areas of Increased metabolism and then you know We compare the different groups and not Surprisingly compassion has some very Strong positive effects so the people That you specifically take through the Compassion training program Presumably feel more compassionate and Self-compassionate and also the Biomarkers yeah cortisol goes down and Blood pressure goes down and stuff Exactly fmri shows what uh increase Metabolism in Um uh areas associated with reward yeah And none of this is particularly Surprising right I mean in fact that's Why people they'll sit there and they'll Say You know why do you need to study this When it's intuitively obvious uh the Problem is that If you're going to teach things Especially in a secular World they want Evidence to demonstrate it even though

Intuitively you know that's the case Yeah so when I was in my third year of Med school we here we have this thing Where you can do a degree in whatever Else you want and so I did psychology And did a lot of fmri type stuff and I I Always found that there was always that Thing and one of our essay questions was Why is fmri trying to show things that We all know are intuitively obvious but I was found interesting because it's Lightweight it shows that there is like Actually something here and especially With I found whenever I dabble with or Like meditation and mindfulness or Anything vaguely resembling anything Eastern there's always a little bit of Skepticism in me but if you know there's Some some biomarkers some fmri stuff Even with all the caveats of fmri it's Like okay cool there is something here I Can like I can switch off the skeptical Part of my brain and actually just go All in and and take this seriously yeah No and I I think that's How most people feel uh uh but you the Interesting thing of course is if you Look at the classic studies in Psychology and we're talking about their Sweet qualitative quantitative you know 50 of them you can't repeat this time so There are some flaws uh that you have to Be aware of but uh in general if you Look at the totality of the evidence I

Think there's no question that uh yeah So okay so let's say there's someone Listening to this or or even me where I'm like okay I'm I'm sold that like That compassion is a is a great thing I Feel like for me personally I don't I don't I don't think I'm a Particularly compassionate person Um It's a dead giveaway Um I I feel like when I was in in med School and certainly doing like clinical Communication skills and stuff I I had Friends who seemed very like genuinely Compassionate whereas for me it felt More like it's sort of I I couldn't Quite relate to a lot of experiences Patients had especially the bad ones Because I've been lived a very Privileged life haven't really had Anything bad happen to me and so it was A lot of kind of Uh knowing how to respond in situations Rather than genuinely feeling compassion Correct so basically you understand the Cognitive components of compassion but Not the effect of a capacity yeah so how Do I how do I become more effectively Compassionate well uh you could take the Compassion cultivation training I could Just do that online yeah or or Cultivating the hard program we have a Lot of people in England who take that Uh but I think

Getting insights and doing specific Practices can help you gain more insight And self-awareness now you know is it Going to get you to the point where You're bleeding hard to go my God Probably not but it can more connect you If you will with your heart yeah and Actually not only sort of cognitively Analyze and say well this is a good Thing to do and if I do it the patient Will feel better but more of you know You want to do it because you know it Will have a positive effect on people at A heart level two things on this first Thing so um I've I've recently become somewhat Involved with the effective altruism Community Um yes and that's a lot of like Within that trying to uh rationally and Cognitively evaluate what are the best Best cost effective ways to spend your Time and your money and resources and Stuff Um and again I have some friends who are Who seem very effectively Um altruistic in that you know my Sister-in-law for example will genuinely Be kept up at night at the thought of Kids dying in Africa whereas a lot of Other people including me is more like Hey I recognizing rationally that this Is a thing I recognize that I probably Should value all lives fairly similarly

And therefore okay cool I can donate Money to the against malaria Foundation Or something like that And your question is and the question is Is there a way to feel uh presumably This compassioned stuff and if I went if I went through the training I'd be able To feel that sense of altruism more Effectively rather than just cognitive I Would say so but you have to be careful Because this is the argument for Effective altruism right you respond to As an example you know there's a charity Advertisement shows one child suffering You go oh my God I and versus you know Showing you know thousands of children Suffering yeah and you go gosh I can't Do anything right uh So you have to again and we I think we Talked about biases briefly you have to Be aware of the biases that all of us Carry right here's my argument against Effective altruism and you know I know Sam Harris is a big proponent and who's The guy uh the philosopher yeah exactly A couple of months ago oh really maybe You can connect me with him but Absolutely so here's my argument It's great for people To do that I'm in an ideal world that Would work great but let me give you Two examples and you tell me who we save Okay wonderful okay so as you probably Are aware if we were to look at India

And or Pakistan there are a ton of People who come from very challenging Backgrounds and for whatever reason uh Have the intellectual capability or at Least the orientation from family or Whatever that will allow them to succeed In terms of education and ultimately by The normal measures of success in Society then you have Africa here yeah Which is complete opposite okay so uh And let's say we have X amount of Dollars where are we going to spend them Do you sit there and completely Disregard The African nation or people and say Well yeah yes there are a whole variety Of reasons uh sort of the negative Aspects of colonialism the fracturing of Uh tribal culture which have destroyed You know how they interact complete Corruption blah blah blah or should we Take this group of uh Indians who you Know nominally have performed and give Them every resource to make sure They Do better then you could look at this And say historically is this actually Really a manifestation of these people Are really black these people are less Dark and then there's the white people Okay then the encounter to this next is Okay we take the ending group now let's See what's happening in America uh well Uh

Instead of focusing Why don't these people focus on changing A system that's fundamentally corrupt And it and and is Benefits privileged people yep versus You know looking for projects that In many ways are just the bias of the Individual Who are funding them and I know there's The argument well the person gives them Money and we look at it we do all this Analysis Frankly I would say a lot of that's Complete and If you have a person of the billionaire Class Uh looking at it I will assure you if he Puts his money there And you do something that disagrees with His natural biases That will not be the most effective Altruistic act that you'll do does that Make sense So is your argument that I don't think we have the Algorithms yeah we can't quite perfectly Predict the effect of correct stuff and Therefore we shouldn't try like we're Gonna throw me approximate I mean this Is probably what will would say when I Opposed this exact question to him he Was like well to be honest most most Charitable donation is still done to Sort of the person in the street who

Asks you for money so even if we can Just do it even within an order of Magnitude rough approximation say that Hey five thousand dollars would say Literally save the life of a child in Africa versus would allow 0.1 of a Person to get through med school like Should probably save the South Africa Well but then we would as an example First of all what's the value of a life Is giving a mosquito Nets to people in Africa that allow them to survive Without the other resources that are Necessary to thrive as a human being is That actually a good expenditure of Resources yeah Yeah so I I mean you see what I'm Telling or saying is there are a whole Set of biases that you have that are Making these decisions which perhaps They're not aware of and what you're Self-serving and that's my point uh uh I Don't know the answer to that I mean why Not and so it's like as an example People say you know there's a disaster Somewhere we need to send orthopedists And neurosurgeons and all these people There well frankly the thing That will save the most people is Sanitation yeah right Of those people there it's a waste of Money because you know for doing what I Do I need an immense amount of resources

Yeah right I need sub-specialists I need An ICU I need Imaging stuff I need Equipment well that's a complete waste Of time in the face of a disaster I would love to connect you to will I Think you and him would have a fantastic Conversation he's much more Professor But but you see my I see your point yeah Yeah and so you know it's like saying as An example why don't we let AI run the World right because they theoretically Have they're not although they are but We were simply say they're not biased And they will make the best General Decisions to get the best result because As an example even with imaging studies They find underlying uh uh connections Between things that we cannot see and Then they would actually be the best Arbiters in a I hate to say completely Unemotional way Now of course the thing is they may say Okay let's let everyone starve in Africa And India yeah and let's put all of our Resources into the most educated Countries because that's a group of People who ultimately are going to give The best benefit to society So I think on that on that point what The effect of altruists would probably Say is that let's not worry about the Extreme cases Um let's focus on there's so much Poverty and stuff that we can solve

Right now by just diverting even some of The funds that we put towards I don't Know Things into slightly more cost effective Charities let's actually you know like Just like we make investments and we you Know there's always some like level of Bias that hedge funds will have when Making decisions about Investments but There it is at least an attempt at Calculating what the ROI of investment Would be let's do the same thing for Charities and for Effective causes and Put at least some of the money there Yeah and you know I think impact invest In all of that is fine but here's Another counter yeah that's a great Place So the thing that would benefit the World the most is to remove 90 of the Monies that have been uh taken from the Population into the hands of eight Families in the world or 12 families in The world and if you redistributed those Funds to alleviate poverty to give Education to give housing uh you would Solve a huge huge number of problems in The world now of course the problem is And it's like looking at Davos right Here you have a group of self-interested Individuals making decisions economic Decisions about the world And there's a wonderful quote by Tolstoy That I'm paraphrasing it it says there

Is a man on your back choking you He acknowledges he's on your back Choking you but never does he offer to Get off your back and stop choking you Right yeah and that's what we see here These individuals have access to Information that unlike perhaps and I'm In the top one percent and maybe you are As well uh Even in the face of that I can only make Five percent of my money maybe sometimes 10 maybe these are individuals who have Access to information that is allowing Them to make twenty percent thirty Percent fifty percent 100 on their money I mean look at some of these individuals Who you know five or ten years ago was Worth a billion and today they're worth 150 billion It's not because they're just invested Like you or I they have access to Information that allows them to make Oh Insane profits at the expense of the Average person right and and it's not Fair yeah uh and so the best thing you Could do to Be an Effective altruist is To if you're in the billionaire class to Give 90 of your money away to Things that are actually going to change Versus I'll get five thousand dollars Here I'll get five thousand dollars There I mean literally as an example Look at the military budget in the

United States we spend more and I I Think this is a correct number it's Something like we spend more like six Times more Then the top other or the other nine top Industrialized countries in the world on The military right Six times more may I maybe nine times More but it's a huge multiple of what The other nine top industrialized Countries in the world spent on the Military if we took three days of that Budget we could give as an example free Education yeah free health care I'll Leave a poverty in the United States to Deal with the Homeless Problem yeah Absolutely yeah and I think effective Ultras would be very full or fully on Board with that if that if that were Possible well but here you they have This Cadre of billionaires who are Pontificating yeah let's make it happen You see there has to be the political Will actually to uh confront these Horrible inequalities yeah that are Negatively affecting the vast majority Of humanity and until that class of People gain self-awareness I mean tell Me How does having a 500 foot yacht Help anybody How does having you know 10 Homes at Each cost between 15 and 25 million that Said empty ninety percent of the time

Benefit anybody Right yeah I mean these are this is Wretched excess that is is worthless and It creates a class of entitled people Who think that's how they deserve to Live At the expense of all of these other People as an example it's fascinating I'm sure you recall when we start Talking about not allowing smoking in Bars at restaurants what was the outcry From all these people you're going to Bankrupt our business we're not going to Make any money oh my God surprisingly it Didn't affect anybody now you look at The minimum wage there's this argument If we raise it beyond the minimum wage In the United States all the restaurants Are going to go bankrupt well look what The pandemic has done nobody wants to be Paid right and suddenly the wages 15 18 20 an hour and nobody's going Bankrupt or maybe some are but there are Tons of jobs available for servers who Actually get paid what they deserve so They're all these Politically sensitive problems That should be dealt with and not get Into this argument that could be very Difficult to pick what is the best cause These are like things that are just Sitting there in front of you that Nobody wants to touch and it's because As they always say when you when you

Take a privileged class of people and You take their privilege away they feel Oppressed hmm let's say someone's Listening to this uh coming back to the The topic of compassion so one action Point I guess that someone can take away Is and we'll put links to all this stuff In the video description in the show Notes Um take the programs that you guys have Set up on cultivating compassion Um are there any sort of things that Someone listening to this could apply to Their life like right now to cultivate More of a sense of compassion Sure uh um So getting you know I mentioned my med School experience right and People ask me geez what is your practice For your own cultivation of compassion So I was asked and I I don't know if you Have it in the UK uh something uh we Call it the white coats ceremony so Prior to medical school you get a white Coat you take the oath of Hippocrates And then you have an inspirational Speaker and I was very honored because I Was that person at my med school one Year And I wanted to impart with these Students Um An easy way to look at how to walk in The world okay okay

And um It came down to a mnemonic because of Course mnemonics are very helpful for Medical students so it was 10 letters of The alphabet And it starts with c and ends in l So C compassion for self and others D recognizing the Dignity of every Person and what that is of course Oftentimes we look at people with pity Which is you looking down from a Perceived Superior position looking at The other person in a way which is not That they're you're equal E is practicing equanimity This is this idea of evenness of Temperament Uh it's One of the things that causes suffering Is attachment to outcome or craving Right It is wonderful to achieve and you get This lift from you know accomplishing Something or being acknowledged for that But the nature of that is always Transitory It doesn't last So if you're always attached to having This feeling you're going to be unhappy At the end of the day but of course the Other aspect is a down event where You're actually suffering on some level From some negative outcome of whatever Well it is also transitory yet people

In their mental state get into a feeling That this is sort of permanently the way It is with all the negative consequences Versus understanding that is transitory Itself so if you're able to appreciate The UPS as well as the Downs because the Down experiences often give you the Greatest insight and wisdom about Yourself And the world And you appreciate the extremes at both Ends But you're not lost in them as an Example I like Ferraris or Porsches and Fast cars I like living well But I don't need them And if they're gone tomorrow I'm Perfectly fine Okay so it's not getting lost in the Nature of how life has its ups and downs But seeing it through the lens of Uh yes that's there and it's all okay Anyway so Equanimity f is forgiveness I Mean one of the greatest challenges is You carry anger and hostility towards Another person and what does that do Well it negatively affects your Physiology right it it uh stimulates Your sympathetic nervous system when you See that person when you think about That person you have all these negative Effects going through you and it's like Somehow drinking poison and thinking It's going to have an effect on the

Other person and it doesn't so being Able to forgive and it's not to forget It's not to protect yourself from these Types of individuals but it's not For you don't allow them to take away From your Uh calm nature okay so forgiveness is Very very important and then another Incredibly important thing is gratitude The nature of you and I sitting here Today we are incredibly blessed half of The world's population lives on two Dollars and fifty cents a day well if You simply think about that oh my God I Am so blessed I have had such Opportunities uh and if you take the Time to write down three things a day About what you're grateful for that in And of itself has a huge positive effect On your physiology Uh humility uh you know I can always Tell good doctors and the way I can tell Good doctors is they walk on the floor They know the nurses they call them by Name they greet the people who sweep the Floors to change the bedpans Because they recognize those people are Critical to their success that they may Be if you will the head of the ship or The captain of the ship but the ship Will sink without the input of these Other people so they are humble about Their importance okay I is having Integrity or values that bound your

Behavior and and determine how you act And walk in the world K is uh simply being kind which has Nothing to do with suffering J is Justice and this is our Responsibility for those who are Vulnerable And of course all of this is Contained by Lush So That was the statement I made to those Students and I think looking through the Lens of your life through that lens it Makes you realize that You're first of all We were talking about some of this Success is Not an outward event Okay your happiness doesn't occur Because you've accomplished something You determine your happiness it is an Internal event that you decide And yet what will make you happy though Interestingly and paradoxically is when All of your actions are not about you They're based on being of service to Others now that's not to say that when You give service to others That you won't benefit you'll benefit Incredible ways but if every state Movement you make is one related to Being of service to others then that Changes everything it changes your life It changes how you see the world you Know one of the classic things that

People say is you know I don't have the Position the power the resources to help Anybody But the fact of the matter is if you Walk in the world simply sitting down With a stranger and talking to somebody Who's lonely opening a door for somebody Carrying somebody's groceries buying a Poor person a meal these have a profound Profound effect on your physiology if You look at your life in total First of all almost everyone has had an Event Or been in a situation where You were not able to achieve something You dearly wanted now whether it was Reasonable to expect it or it was Something that's really necessary but Everyone has been in a position where You've so dearly wanted something and it Was not going to happen and you know When that happens how do you feel you Know it's like the sun's no longer Shining you no longer believe in God [Laughter] When somebody comes and saves you Suddenly it's uh there is a God at the Sunshine oh my God I'm so blessed thank You so much uh and that's something that Will sit with you but the thing that Will sit with you even more and resonate You when you think about it is when You've been able to reach out and save Someone

Unlike you know buying a car or or Some thing uh Which transcendently gives you a sense Of uh of uh happiness or Good Feeling Which of course hedonic uh happiness if You will uh when you do something like That that will sit with you when you Think about it give you warmth Throughout your body which is this Udemonic sense uh that's what's really Important and that will create uh a Meaningful life a purposeful life and at The end of the day a happy life And I would also close by saying One of the hardest things for people And is to know when enough is enough Right because what happens for so many People is it's almost like they're Always competing to keep up with the Joneses right and you can never keep up With the Joneses and the thing is in Fact do you remember this actor What's the name young young fat or Something he was in what flying tiger or Something So here's a guy who's worth 750 million Dollars And he's his he lives on a hundred Dollars a month And he's very happy Now I'm not sure I could live a hundred Dollars about to be completely happy but The point of the story is he knows when Enough is enough he doesn't need you

Know six thirty million dollar homes he Doesn't need a massive yacht you know he Doesn't need to be with the most pretty Woman in the world although I'm sure Whoever he's with he feels that way About but but it's the people who are Constantly trying to show off to pretend There's something important to to give The impression they're more important Than you uh they are not people to be Emulated I don't believe How do you think of this balance between Ambition and like satisfaction if there To me it's always felt a bit like their Two ends of a spectrum where on one hand You can be very goal oriented very like Outcome driven and on the other hand you Can sort of be fully content with what You have and actually life is good and Of course there is the idea of sort of Holding both ideas and sort of striving For goals but at the same time being Fully content Um but it's always struck me like the This is something I'm sort of struggling With right now in in terms of this Business the YouTube channel the podcast To what extent do we want to try and go Bigger like get twice as many Subscribers or twice as much revenue or Twice as much whatever versus actually Life is great right now and I just want To make the videos that can be of Service to the world

Well have you I'm sure you know this guy What's it called the beast He's a podcaster who gives money away oh Yeah my children well My sense is I don't know him at all he's Not doing this for the money right and And uh he's doing it to in some ways be Of service in his own way I I don't Think there is anything wrong with Necessarily either of these except with The following caveats there's a Difference between Having enough Versus uh you know intentionally somehow Starving yourself to prove you have Enough right yeah where you actually say You know I'm happy where I live I'm Happy with my family we have the Resources and I don't need to spend 90 Percent of my free time chasing after More because that's what happens right If you're on the spectrum of I want to Do X and you have a goal then it's going To take a lot of your time and the Choice then is and I don't know anyone Who's been that successful at oh I can Have my career I can you know travel the World I can take care of my family Everyone's going to be happy I don't think that's possible Necessarily are there instances where Seemingly that's case I'm sure there are But the question has to be what is Driving you

To achieve Is it Insecurity because you want people from An external validation perspective make Your parents happy Is that why you're doing it and if That's why you're doing it you're never Going to be happy Is it to say I have the best podcast in The world and look at me and I have you Know 16 million or 20 million followers And I'm important and next year I'm Gonna have 25 million uh Then what you have to do is then you Have to analyze what stuff do I have to Do to make this podcast yeah even more Sticky yeah right and then that causes You to compromise right because Stickiness often comes from you doing Stuff that's inauthentic For the sole purpose of getting numbers You know that's why you see all these uh Quote unquote influencers who'll drive a Car off a cliff and watch it you know be Destroyed or they'll blow something up Or or they'll even injure themselves uh You know I got more viewers I got a Thousand viewers this week uh well That's uh uh doesn't help anybody except Again you wanting to fill this void that Makes you feel that you uh uh if you get That it'll mean something it'll validate Who you are if you're uh but if you're Saying look you know we focus on

Effective altruism and talk about that We focus on overcoming poverty you know I get these incredible thought leaders Who give me insights and I share those With people and that helps them in their Own lives Well that is a worthy thing to do and That and being able to find those people And uh Inspire other people to be Versions of their best selves then that Is a worthy thing to spend time and Energy on but it's again it's You know I had a conversation with the Dalai Lama one time and I said well Is it important what somebody's Intentions are And he said And I said if they're doing good in some Way and he said no their intentions are Not important if the effect is good he Said unless you're a Buddhist then your Intentions are really important Because of course you have Karma right Which I'm not a believer in but I simply Say that so um And just one more statement you know I've had the privilege and I mentioned Some of the spiritual and religious Leaders I've had the opportunity to Spend time with and you know again While there is Dogma with every religion At the core of these elevated Individuals is a reality that Life is about caring compassion and love

And and in some ways the expert Experiential nature That religion has had over thousands of Years validates this truth and it is Only through science that we have had The tools to understand how these types Of behaviors affect individuals So in some ways the Dogma is irrelevant It's at the core of these things that uh Define our humanity and give us the Opportunity to be our best selves Uh yeah that's really that's really Great as as you were as you were Speaking it kind of struck me this Thing I've I've had floating around in My mind for a while just on this topic Of striving for goals Um that There's almost sort of two two sorts of Goals you could strive for there's the There's like a selfish goal and there's Like a service goal a selfish goal of I Want x million subscribers Because it boosts my own ego but a Service goal of I want to help x million People and I feel like you know this is I guess why companies have mission Statements where even though sort of the Subtext is we generate value for our Shareholders shareholders they never say That in the mission statement unless It's like a hedge fund they would say we Help people think differently we help Dot it's it's a very service oriented

Oriented goal and my instinct is that There's something about that that helps People get bought into doing doing this Thing Um compared to if it was like or the the Reason we exist is to make money for our Shareholders And I sometimes think about this I was Having this conversation with Um well mccaskill the philosopher as Well around how there are some There are some goals in life where you Know the satisficing goals like having Way more money doesn't make you way more Happier and so you know there's a point Of enough having way more fun doesn't Make you happier and there's a point of Enough but impacting way more people There's no upper limit to that and so if If that is the goal like an impact goal A service goal that feels like a good Way of Having your cake and eating it too in Terms of your striving for something Which gives me meaning to life and You're doing it in a way that makes you Happy and fulfilled by providing service To others well I think that's you've Just reiterated what I've said that's my Role yeah But I think the danger is as follows Again the thing that causes the greatest Amount of suffering is craving an Attachment

So if you're so involved in sort of Doing this thing to help others [Music] And you do it so much that it harms Yourself then uh and and that you know Being able to say you know I helped a Tent like effective altruism I helped 10 000 people today the ROI here is Incredible yet you know you've been up For days at a time you're exhausted you Have no relationship with anybody that's Not a healthy thing and if you don't Make it to whatever that goal is then You start all these self recriminations Saying you know I knew I could you know It wasn't real I couldn't really do it I Tried but you know I wasn't good enough And I wasn't worthy and I don't really Deserve this and I'm an imposter by Telling people that I'm trying to do This and you beat yourself up well That's only causing you suffering so if You sit there and say you know my goal Is to let's say help ten thousand people Whatever it is And you sit there and you help eight Thousand you go you know I did an Incredible job was it exactly what I Want to know but I'm okay because at the End of the day I did an incredible job And you know even for some of the stuff I do do I have dreams and aspirations About helping people Of course and a zillion times I've not

Been able to do what I wanted and and uh And I failed and I made mistakes and uh Um and it's painful for myself but I'm Still a worthy person deserving of love Right One thing I want to talk he said You've had like by any sort of Definitions of success like stupidly Large amounts of success Um a lot of Books I've read from people from people Who are very successful they often Lament that they didn't spend enough Time on their relationships when they Were sort of on the road to that success I wonder if you can can speak to that at All maybe in your life or if you were to Give advice for other people who are all Sort of aiming for Success this balance Between taking care of your personal Relationships alongside the Showing the mountain So let me give some information that Correlates or relates to our Conversation on compassion I'm sure you're aware of the blue zones In the world the butt nurse work I think It is Butner Um So these are places in the world uh I'm Sure many of your listeners have heard Of this where you know people live Routinely over a century And uh

Why is that And this is Substantiated by a number of studies So one part of it which people will Claim is these are people who eat a Mediterranean diet Uh who exercise who are at their ideal Body weight who don't drink alcohol and There's no question that is a Significant contributor but by far far Multitudes more important is depth of Relationships and human connection that Is the secret sauce all the other stuff Can be a benefit Uh but the secret sauce of of actually Longevity is human relationships and Connecting with others and and what does That involve it involves having Generosity Uh um Be non-judgmental Being accepting And of course those are the fundamentals Of how to develop relationships and You're right there are some people are So goal or in it and in fact they have No problem stepping on other people To get what they want because they want Some external validation And probably there's some degree of in Security that they want to hold that Over other people uh but you know that's Not going to create happiness or Longevity and I'm sure you know uh a

Number of let's and I hate to beat up The hedge fund business But uh uh You know they're people who are you know In that uh business of making money for The sole purpose of making money at Whatever cost uh and uh uh you know they Work ridiculously hard uh and is it Great to live in a big Penthouse and Drive sports cars and hang out with Supermodels I suppose I'm being I've been in that Position on some level and frankly I at The end of the day my whole life I felt Was completely empty I had tons of External people going man dude you live In this incredible life you know you've Got this Penthouse and you know you've Got this Ferrari and you're dating Someone so man you should be so happy And I I was never happy in that Situation I was miserable actually and It and to the point where I couldn't Understand because I did all of this Stuff And I was miserable when all my friends Said would say God if I was in your Position I would be so happy right now But again if it's all about the money or All about the you know killing yourself To get some external validation you're You're going to be unhappy uh at least You know that's been my personal Experience in my uh observation

So funny thing I wanted to ask Um have there been any books that have Had a big impact on your life that you Would recommend to me or to our Listeners Um no The ultimate Handbook of the passion Side yeah Only the ones yeah Uh you know it's it's interesting you Say that because I get asked this Question and I never have an answer uh Because I forget them and I have the Worst memory uh you know there are A number of books that have impacted how I see the world some of them you know by The Dalai Lama or people who've written For him uh Others about sort of the religions of The world others about uh Uh psychology and and how We Don't have necessarily awareness of of Who we are in the world uh uh uh there's A group of books about Um Economics and how to Look at the world from a lens of Revising the Economic realities to be a more benefit To the people and in fact if you want I Can make a list of 10 books that you Could put in your show notes that I Think might be helpful for people but uh

You know I've certainly read a lot of Books by different spiritual and Legislators and philosophers uh Um some All right Jim thank you so much for for Coming on the podcast it's um amazingly Generous of you to just agree to sort of Meeting a complete stranger in the Morning while you're in the UK for a few Days uh thank you so much it's been Wonderful and I know have know that Compassion science is a thing and I'll Be checking your book out and doing this The online online resources because I'm Genuinely interested in trying to Cultivate more self-compassion and also Compassion towards others well no thanks For having me I appreciate it and uh uh Again I I think uh Um otherwise I would just be drinking Alone in my room I'm glad to be up seven Thank you so much yes uh no look if I Can spread my message it benefits one Person I I'm happy to do so thank you so Much uh and also for uh just to do it Another self pitch here uh um so my book Uh I should have brought it for you uh Is called into the magic shop uh Neurosurgeon's quest to discover the Mysteries of the brain and the secrets Of the heart and uh Uh it's in I think 40 languages and it's Uh International bestseller New York

Times bestseller I'm not saying this to Promote the book necessarily but I think That for a lot of people this has Certain messages that resonate with the Questions that all of us have as human Beings amazing well uh on my YouTube Channel separately to the podcast we Often do like book reviews and book Summaries and stuff so we'll definitely Check that out and yeah Right up my street and evidence-based Stuff perfect around living a good life Yes well thank you thank you so much all Right so that's it for this week's Episode of Deep dive thank you so much For watching or listening all the links And resources that we mentioned in the Podcast are going to be linked down in The video description or in the show Notes depending on where you're watching Or listening to this if you're listening To this on a podcast platform then do Please leave us a review on the iTunes Store it really helps other people Discover the podcast or if you're Watching this in full HD or 4k on YouTube then you can leave a comment Down below and ask any questions or any Insights or any thoughts about the Episode that would be awesome and if you Enjoyed this episode you might like to Check out this episode here as well Which links in with some of the stuff That we talked about in the episode so

Thanks for watching uh do hit the Subscribe button if you aren't already And I'll see you next time bye

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