Do It Anyway: Living the Paradoxical Commandments

Before reviewing Dr. Kent M. Keith’s “Do It Anyway,” I wanted to remind you of his infamous Paradoxical Commandments. Written in the 1960′s, they are every bit as necessary and vital today as then. (Let’s hope that can be said for all of us from the Sixties!)

The Paradoxical Commandments by Dr. Kent M. Keith

People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.
Love them anyway.

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

If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies.
Succeed anyway.

The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.

Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway.

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.

People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs.
Fight for a few underdogs anyway.

What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
Build anyway.

People really need help but may attack you if you do help them.
Help people anyway.

Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth.
Give the world the best you have anyway.

© Copyright Kent M. Keith 1968, renewed 2001

I love that last line, Give the world the best you have anyway. Great stuff! If these Paradoxical Commandments affect you as strongly as they do most people, you’ll want to visit Paradoxical In addition to a blog, you’ll find mugs, posters, books, clothing, a newsletter, and “sightings” of these world famous commandments.

Onto the book review!

Do It Anyway: Finding Personal Meaning and Deep Happiness by Living the Paradoxical Commandments
I just finished reading Kent M. Keith’s book,  Do It Anyway: Finding Personal Meaning and Deep Happiness by Living the Paradoxical Commandments.  This wonderfully beautiful and beautifully wonderful little book serves as a “companion” guide to The Paradoxical Commandments.  It features tools, exercises, and suggestions that the reader can use for personal introspection or group discussion.

The book acknowledges that yes, indeed, the world can be pretty crazy.  But that can’t stop us from doing and giving our best.  We’re the ones with the power – we can either allow circumstances to bring us to a complete stop or we can, in the author’s words, “Do it Anyway.”  This wonderful guide gives specific examples of how we can speed past the life’s tempting STOP signs – without ever looking back!

As the author stresses in Part One, we can’t control the “external world.”  The economy?  Gas Prices?  Political scandals?  Out of our control.  But we CAN control how we react to them.  We CAN make certain that we give our best in every situation and carve out as much happiness and peace for ourselves as possible.  The book challenges us with a series of questions about how we’re coping with the world around us.  It’s like therapy at the end of our arms!

If you are trapped in excuses, or a difficult past, or a difficult present, now is the time to break out.  The Paradoxical Commandments point the way.  Personal meaning and deep happiness are waiting for you. – Do It Anyway: Finding Personal Meaning and Deep Happiness by Living the Paradoxical Commandments, Page 37

Part One also lists typical excuses and stumbling blocks that get in our way, then tells how to forge ahead and “Do It Anyway.”  I lost track of the times while reading that I thought, “Great advice!”

Part Two is a beautiful section because it introduces you to some beautiful people, people who are living the Paradoxical life.  Their stories are told, in their own words, about ways they used the Paradoxical Commandments to overcome ugliness, unfairness, and unpleasantness.  Each of the Paradoxical Commandments are dealt with, not simply in words, but in real life stories and emotions.

Along the way the reader is challenged with questions.  These questions bring us face to face with how we would handle, or how we do handle, similar situations.  We’re forced to see if we are living the Paradoxical Commandments and we’re shown where we may be failing if we aren’t.  One of my favorite stories was from the author, himself, as he talked about his grandparents.  He referred to his grandmother as someone who was easy to love but told how his grandfather was one of those people who was difficult to love.  Apparently the grandfather didn’t talk much and smiled and laughed even less.  The author, however, loved him anyway and was a better person for having done so.

If you live the Paradoxical Commandments, you will change the world.  You will love people, and do good, and succeed, and be honest and frank, and think big, and fight for the underdogs, and build, and help people, and give the world your best. - Do It Anyway: Finding Personal Meaning and Deep Happiness by Living the Paradoxical Commandments, Page 139

You’re going to love what Part Three has on its mind:  Saving the World.  Yeah! That’s what I’m talking about! We’re encouraged to try and make a difference, for the better, in the world around us. The author emphasizes the importance of starting at home and work – then working your way out.

I love the checklist given on page 158.  The reader is presented with 5 powerful and challenging questions. Two of these are;

Am I satisfied with things as they are?  Why?  Why not?

AmI willing to be known and judged by the stand that I take?

The other 3?  Oh, you know the drill – buy the book and find out!

Part Four is a fascinating interview with the author.  This is a section that I desperately wish all books included.  I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve read a book and thought, “I wish I could ask the author this or I wish I could ask the author that.”  Ironically, as I was reading the book, I didn’t realize the interview was waiting at the end.  Several times, while reading, I wondered what the author’s favorite commandment was and if he ever thought of adding to the ten.  I also wondered if he came up with the number 10 as a tribute to the 10 Commandments God presented to Moses.  I was pleasantly surprised to see that these answers (as well as others) were all in the back of the book waiting for me, as though they read my mind.  I was also very happy with the answers, themselves.

In summary, this is a book I’d very highly recommend.  I particularly love the way we’re challenged to make a difference in the world around us.  Of course, the only way to really be effective about such an endeavor is to, first, make a difference in ourselves – particularly in our thinking.   

Living with the Paradoxical Commandments will lead you to more peace and happiness than living without the Paradoxical Commandments.  This guide will….well, guide you.  Every beautiful step of the way.


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