ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel
  • »
  • Books, Literature, and Writing

Give the world the best you have anyway.

Updated on March 15, 2013

The Paradoxical Commandments

Do you ever get tired of doing the right thing, only to get kicked in the teeth?

Does it sometimes seem like you are the only one who is fighting for your cause?

Does it every seem like everyone around you is only looking out for number one?

Do it anyway...

The book "The Paradoxical Commandments - Finding Personal Meaning in a Crazy World " by Kent M. Keith contained a poem I have read many times, that is usually credited to Mother Teresa.

Mr. Keith wrote these words when he was only 19 years old!

You too may have seen this poem titled "Anyway."

Keep going, keep doing the right thing no matter how many times you get knocked down because you aren't doing it for them anyway are you?

The Paradoxical Commandments

1. People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.

Love them anyway.

2. If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.

Do good anyway.

3. If you are successful, you win false friends and true enemies.

Succeed anyway.

4. The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.

Do good anyway.

5. Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.

Be honest and frank anyway.

6. The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds.

Think big anyway.

7. People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs.

Fight for a few underdogs anyway.

8. What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.

Build anyway.

9. People really need help but may attack you if you do help them.

Help people anyway.

10. Give the world the best you have and you'll get kicked in the teeth.

Give the world the best you have anyway.

Get your own copy here

Courtesy of clouda9 if you have a moment stop in and say thank you!

Kent M. Keith

Mr. Keith was a sophomore at Harvard when he penned "The Paradoxical Commandments of Leadership," as part of a booklet for high school student leaders called "The Silent Revolution: Dynamic Leadership in the Student Council.

Years later he attended a Rotary Club meeting where they read a poem thought to be written by Mother Teresa. Can you imagine having your words read to you almost thirty years after they were written, and realizing they had made it around the world. Somehow those same words had found themselves on a wall in an orphanage in Calcutta.

The words are well worth remembering, but the story behind them is even more fascinating. He wrote this story, along with explanation of each of his commandments in the book "The Paradoxical Commandments: Finding Personal Meaning in a Crazy World"

If you have a chance to get a hold of a copy it is a smooth and simple read. I highly recommend it.


Have you read this list before?

See results

Even Mother Teresa had doubts...

Most of us will never have the spiritual depth or faith that Mother Teresa had in her lifetime. She gave her life over to serving God, and taking care of those less fortunate. It must be a blessing to be so strong in your faith...

Yet it seems even she wasn't always sure why she was doing it. According to this CNN article it seems that even Mother Teresa had times of doubt.

In the 1950s and 1960s she wrote many letters that tell of her despair...

"I am told God lives in me -- and yet the reality of darkness and coldness and emptiness is so great that nothing touches my soul,"

"Where I try to raise my thoughts to heaven, there is such convicting emptiness that those very thoughts return like sharp knives and hurt my very soul. Love -- the word -- it brings nothing,"

"In my soul, I can't tell you how dark it is, how painful, how terrible -- I feel like refusing God."

Yet, despite her doubts she kept doing it anyway... None of us are perfect, few of us are saints, but we can keep going on no matter how many times we get slapped in the face.

When I discovered these letters, I realized that we all have times of doubt... but we can keep on doing it anyway.

The Calcutta Version

The version found written on the wall in Mother Teresa's home for children in Calcutta, had some slight differences in wording and a more spiritual overtone.


People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies. Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you. Be honest and sincere anyway.

What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight. Create anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous. Be happy anyway.

The good you do today, will often be forgotten. Do good anyway.

Give the best you have, and it will never be enough. Give your best anyway.

In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.

~credited to Mother Teresa

Why I Write...

Socrates believed that the purpose of human life was growth, both personal and spiritual. When you take a close look at your life, you see patterns. When you look at the lives of others those patterns expand. Human nature becomes less of a mystery once you see and understand those patterns.

Life is beautiful, even the ugly parts of it carry a certain beauty. Join me as I explore life and the meaning behind the events we witness. On my blog, in my novels, and here at Squidoo I explore many of these patterns we find recurring throughout our lives.

I invite you to join me on that journey.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image

      miaponzo 6 years ago

      Thanks for these great thoughts!

    • Spook LM profile image

      Spook LM 7 years ago

      I'm glad I found this today. Been down in the dumps for a while now and can't seem to snap myself out of it.

    • clouda9 lm profile image

      clouda9 lm 8 years ago

      Doing it 'anyway' can be both tiring and's worth being a little tired though if you make a difference for at least one person. Nice share!

    • JacquelineM LM profile image

      JacquelineM LM 8 years ago

      I really liked it, they are great thoughts to live by. Thank you for sharing them.

    • RuthCoffee profile image

      RuthCoffee 8 years ago

      Somedays, this is exactly now I feel, it all will come to no good but try to do good anyway. Somehow, someway the battle matters.