Dr. Doty's message of kindness, empathy, and hope is a much-needed antidote to the challenges and stresses of modern life, and his wisdom and experience can help us all become magic makers in our own lives and communities.
The book takes its title from an encounter that Dr. Doty had as a 12-year-old boy with a woman named Ruth. This encounter would change the course of his life, transforming his life against all odds. Ruth taught him a five-step process to develop inner strength, focus, and compassion that would be the foundation for his success and ultimately for its happiness. The steps are:
- Relaxing the body - Cultivating a sense of calm and peace through deep breathing, visualization, and body awareness.
- Taming the mind - Quieting the mind to be able to have clarity in your thoughts.
- Clarifying your intent - Setting an intention to allow our brain to focus its attention on what we want.
- Visualization - Using your imagination to create vivid mental images of your desired outcomes and experiences.
- Opening your heart - Building empathy, compassion, and gratitude through authentic and meaningful relationships with yourself and others.
Over the years, Dr. Doty relies on the first four steps to achieve everything that he has ever dreamed of, success. But it is only later in life that he understands that what he always wanted wasn’t necessarily what was good for him. Once he finally managed to open his heart, that’s when true happiness arrived and since then the five steps that Ruth taught Dr. Doty became the foundation of his philosophy of "heart-centered living."
Dr Doty has gifted us his own the alphabet of the heart, the language of the hearth:
C: Compassion is the recognition of the suffering of another with a desire to alleviate that suffering. Yet to be compassionate to another, you must be compassionate to yourself.
D: Dignity is something innate in every person. It deserves to be acknowledged and recognized.
E: Equanimity is to have an evenness of temperament even during difficult times.
F: Forgiveness is one of the greatest gifts one can give to another. It is also one of the greatest gifts we can give to ourselves.
G: Gratitude is the recognition of the blessing that your life is - even with all its pain and suffering.
H: Humility. It is only when we recognize that, like us, every person has positive and negative attributes, and only when we look at one another as equals, that we can truly connect.
I: Integrity requires intention. It requires defining those values that are most important to you.
J: Justice is a recognition that within each of us there lives a desire to see that right be done.
K: Kindness is a concern for others and is often thought of as the active component of compassion.
L: Love when given freely changes everyone and everything.
And I myself, I would add the two letters at the beginning of the alphabet:
A: Altruism which manifests in a genuine desire to benefit someone other than oneself for that person’s sake.
B: Belongingness which is the sense of feeling connected and accepted by others.
10 quotes I loved from the book:
- It’s easy to connect the dots of a life in retrospect, but much harder to trust the dots will connect together and form a beautiful picture when you’re in the messiness of living life.
- There are a lot of things in life that you can’t control. But you can control your body and you can control your mind. That’s very powerful. It changes everything.
- Stop reliving the guilt and shame of past events, and the anxiety and fear of imagining possible future events.
- We all misunderstand. Each other. Ourselves. Situations. It’s a good lesson to learn that not everything is about us.
- Others can create your reality only if you don’t create it yourself.
- When our brain changes, we change. But when our heart changes, everything changes.
- Like so much in life, our beliefs are a manifestation of our life experiences. And our brains are the consolidation of those experiences.
- Holding anger or hostility against another you feel has wronged you is like drinking poison and hoping it will kill the other person. It doesn’t work. It poisons you. It poisons your interactions with others. It poisons your outlook of the world. Ultimately it makes you the prisoner in a jail where you hold the key yet won’t unlock the door.
- It can hurt to go through life with your heart open but not as much as it does to go through life with your heart closed.
- In the end, how well we love each other and how well we take care of each other will be what determines the survival of our planet and our species.
And I want to leave you with Ruth’s words regarding opening the heart and the power it has to allow us to heal and grow, even, or especially in the painful moments in our lives:
Each of us in our lives experience situations that cause pain.
I call them wounds of the hearth.
If you ignore them, they won’t heal.
But sometimes when our hearts are wounded that’s when they are open.
Frequently it is the wounds of the heart that give us the greatest opportunity to grow.