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Anyway: The Paradoxical Commandments: Finding Personal Meaning in a Crazy World Hardcover – April 29, 2002

4.7 out of 5 stars 65 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

As the story goes, author Kent M. Keith was a sophomore at Harvard University in the 1960s when he first wrote "The Paradoxical Commandments," a manifesto about doing good in a crazy, ungrateful world. These commandments are the basis of his repackaged and expanded book Anyway. Since his Harvard days, Keith's commandments have taken on a life of their own. They have been quoted by the Boy Scouts of America and written on inspirational office memos, classroom handouts, and Internet sites around the world. They have even been discovered in Mother Teresa's children's home in Calcutta. Now Keith has stepped forward to explain his commandments and speak to his credo for doing "the right thing." Readers will probably recognize the 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 will 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.

No doubt about it--these are provocative and encouraging statements, reminding us that there are no guarantees or tangible rewards for doing good in the world. Each commandment gets its own chapter, where Keith elaborates on the theme with personal anecdotes, famous stories, and advice. Though Keith is obviously a gifted and wise leader, the words and explanations surrounding each commandment often feel like overkill. As in Robert Fulghum's All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, these guidelines ultimately make a better poster than a book. Even so, fans of the original "Paradoxical Commandments" will certainly enjoy meeting the voice and integrity of the man behind the words. --Gail Hudson

About the Author

Kent M. Keith earned his B.A. from Harvard and was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford and Waseda University in Tokyo. He holds a law degree as well as a doctorate in education. Keith has served in the cabinet of the governor of Hawaii, and has also been an attorney and a university president. Currently, he is the senior vice-president of Development and Communications for the YMCA of Honolulu.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Putnam Adult; 1st edition (April 29, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399149457
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399149450
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.8 x 7.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (65 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #586,755 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Rebecca of Amazon HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 30, 2002
Format: Hardcover
"Love begets Love." -Theodore Roethke

Kent M. Keith first wrote these commandments when he was 19. What a concept! He challenged himself to do what he felt was right even if people responded in the wrong ways. More than 25 years later, he discovered that Mother Teresa had hung these commandments on the wall of her children's home in Calcutta. This book was first published in 1968.

His Commandments show you that you should not limit yourself by what other people think of you. Some people are just difficult to love and some never give you the approval you may crave. Your parents may never be happy with your current position in life, you may always think that your parents could have done a better job in parenting, you can at times be disappointed that your friends don't show you unconditional love.

Sometimes people can be illogical and unreasonable. They may see the world in a completely different way and to your mind, they make absolutely no sense. It helps to see why they are viewing the world the way they are. So many times you learn about one fact in a person's life and your entire concept of them can change.

I think there are moments in life when people decide not to love others and supreme moments when people decide to love no matter what. It seems many people either don't show love because they don't approve of certain people or they simply don't have the time to reach out to people. You can literally shut your heart away in a little box inside of you or you can open that box and let all that love flow out. It is really up to you.

Kent says that:

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.
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Format: Paperback
I was given a copy of this book by my wonderful wife Michelle for this most recent Father's Day. I picked it up to skim through and despite having loads of work to do, read nearly the whole thing without slowing down. It is an encouraging and meaningful collection of wisdom on how to align our personal attitudes towards an often hostile environment.
There are ten basic "paradoxical commandments", which start with a realistic, although perhaps overly jaded, view of others. For example, the first "commandment" is "People are illogical, unreasonable, and self centered - Love them anyway". That is the general point to all of these, do what is right anyway.
What is really interesting is the path these "paradoxical" statements took. The author was amazed to find that something he had written 20 years before in college wound up on the wall at Mother Theresa's orphanage in Calcutta. What a surprise it was for him to see these listed in one of her memoirs, knowing that something you wrote was held in that high of esteem by someone as wonderfully selfless as she was.
My personal favorite is the section on "Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable - Be honest and frank anyway". In corporate America, there is often little reward, and much risk in being honest what with the always present threat or perception of politics and other power struggles in play. Yet, it has been shown time and again that an honest and frank discussion of the "current state" is the first step towards growth and development - of people or the business. This brief text gives encouragement to do the right thing, knowing full well the short term consequences may be painful.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The Paradoxical Commandments are some simple commandments that combine to make an excellent philosophy for living. The author teaches the joys and virtues of doing good things for the sake of doing them, without expecting yourself to be advanced or bettered in any way, and doing them even when it puts you at risk of becoming vulnerable or gaining false friends and true enemies.
Each chapter is just a few pages long, perfect for reading a chapter a night before turning out the light, which is what I've been doing. The result has been countless little situations during the day - choices between good and bad, right and wrong - during which these little "commandments" come to mind.
This is a wonderful read for anyone, especially those who sometimes wonder if even the little daily choices we each make make any difference. The author shows you they really do.
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Format: Hardcover
Sometimes the simplicity of a good message is what makes it work. When my Mom and Dad gave me a copy of this book, I have to admit, I was worried that they had paid so much for a book that didn't seem "thick" enough. In reality, it was one of the best books I have ever read, and I think that I remember its message so vividly because it wasn't filled with fluff.
I just used its message today (which I won't give away) to inspire me to continue down the right road in spite of some obstacles.
Every one of my kids (all four of them) will read this book before they leave our house. Thanks, Mr. Keith for helping me with discernment on today's issue and every other time I have remembered your message. God bless you.
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