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Do It Anyway: A Poem And A Prayer…

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Do It Anyway: Lovers passionate kiss

Do It Anyway: Lovers passionate kiss

In 1968, Dr. Kent Keith, a young college student leader, wrote a booklet to help other youth leaders. It was titled: The Paradoxical Commandments. Years later, the poem/prayer surfaced as an amended version attributed to Mother Teresa; renamed Do It Anyway. It was inscribed on a wall in her living quarters, and many who passed through stopped to note and cherish the inspiring words.

This version is attributed to Mother Teresa
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.
Dr Kent Keith Original author/copyright

People still associate it with her name but the author is Dr. Kent Keith. I have added both versions to this post; the first version, (above), renamed Do It Anyway, is attributed to Mother Teresa and known and cherished by many people around the world. The original version, (below), started life as The Paradoxical Commandments and was crafted by Dr Keith. Have you ever come across a creative project attributed to someone else?

More below

Do It Anyway: A man and his music

Do It Anyway: A man and his music

The Original Version: 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 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.
© 1968, 2001 Kent M. Keith

Dr Keith has a Facebook group page where people gather to be inspired by his writings and to share their memories of the first time they came across the poem. The true test of great creativity is when it’s message can go through a transformation, even subtly, and still be used to uplift mankind. I hope you enjoyed the pieces above. What do you know about the poem? Have you heard it before? Have a blessed weekend!

The Paradoxical Commandments” were written by Dr. Kent M. Keith in 1968 as part of a booklet for student leaders.

Positive Motivation Tip:  Life is filled with ups and downs. Sometimes everything falls into place and sometimes, it takes a bit of meandering to get to our goal…. Keep on moving forward anyway.

PHOTO CREDITS/ATTRIBUTIONS: All Photos from my personal collection.

Until Next Time…
Ask. Believe. Receive. ©
Elizabeth Obih-Frank
Mirth and Motivation
Positive Kismet

43 Comments leave one →
  1. 26/07/2014 1:39 pm

    Beautiful. I have read the poem many times but thought its author was a other Teresa as you said. How nice to know its true author. It’s words have helped me a great deal since I read it.

  2. 26/07/2014 1:39 pm

    Beautiful. I have read the poem many times but thought its author was a other Teresa as you said. How nice to know its true author. It’s words have helped me a great deal since I read it.

  3. 26/07/2014 4:23 pm

    I know both of these pieces and both are truly inspirational. It’s what we do with what is given to us. I hope to live up the example set by these ideals. Excellent post, very uplifting.

  4. 26/07/2014 4:49 pm

    Words to live by.

  5. 26/07/2014 11:56 pm

    This is vaguely familiar but had no idea who originally wrote it! Thanks Eliz and lovely to see you 🙂

  6. Kristin Yach permalink
    27/07/2014 2:01 pm

    Thanks for the information. I had no idea this poem was actually attributed originally to someone else!

  7. 27/07/2014 2:21 pm

    What a nice poem. I love it. So inspirational!

  8. Paula Parker permalink
    27/07/2014 4:54 pm

    Love this poem/prayer. Great find. We should all try to copy Mother T.

  9. edwardsmom permalink
    27/07/2014 5:53 pm

    WOW! I have never heard of either of these. Glad you shared them with us as they are inspirational. Thank you

  10. Jacqueline permalink
    27/07/2014 6:24 pm

    I minored in poetry during college. I know all about Dr. Keith and his writings. This is such a beautiful piece!

  11. 27/07/2014 7:08 pm

    What a great quote (both versions)! It makes you wonder how Dr. Keith’s writings were able to spread so far in the world before the advent of the internet, where an idea can literally be shared halfway around the world at the push of a button. Something I had written was once attributed to someone else (actually claimed by this person). It’s actually kind of funny. He must have lost track of the origin of the piece because he asked me if I was familiar with a “wonderful piece he wrote.” I answered, “why yes I am; I wrote it.”

    • 1detritus permalink
      01/04/2023 6:18 pm

      Wow, I love your story, 2014, about the person that stole your creative effort. Love the clincher, “Why yes I am (familiar with the piece he mentioned); I wrote it.” Ha ha ha Bwah ha ha, phew.

    • Eliz@MirthandMotivation permalink*
      14/11/2023 4:22 pm

      Hahaha. How did I miss this?

  12. Gabrielle Lynn O'Brien permalink
    27/07/2014 7:23 pm

    What an awesome message that poem has! Thanks for sharing!

  13. R U S S permalink
    27/07/2014 7:37 pm

    I like the message this post brings. The world would be a better place if people would just be nicer to each other – helping without asking for anything in return, doing good deeds just because, not keeping tabs, and basically just trying to live a peaceful life that radiates positive vibes.

  14. Jessica Peeling permalink
    27/07/2014 7:44 pm

    I love these Paradoxical Commandments.. they are so true! Thank you for sharing. They are very inspirational.

  15. Rebecca Swenor permalink
    27/07/2014 8:10 pm

    This is a beautiful post. I love both versions which they are one in the same. Thanks so much for sharing.

  16. Maria Constanza Oller Martin permalink
    28/07/2014 5:30 am

    I like more the version that’s attributed to the mother Teresa, I never knew it had a different author thanks for the info

  17. 28/07/2014 5:53 am

    Words for building a strong foundation in life. I love this post.

  18. 28/07/2014 8:17 am

    The first picture is absolutely beautiful art!

  19. Mary Jane Tauyan Fitzsimmons permalink
    28/07/2014 9:33 am

    It was nice readin of of these i am not very familiar with them but evrything above can relate to anyone

  20. Katherine Rose Coronel- Rivera permalink
    28/07/2014 9:59 am

    I don’t know him but his poem is very inspirational. We have only one world to live in and we should do our best to show positive things to everyone.

  21. 28/07/2014 10:04 am

    Beautiful words and more necessary today than ever I feel

    • 29/07/2014 4:17 am

      Indeed. We live in a world where meanness seems to be the order of the day. This motivational and inspiring poem reminds us to press on.

  22. bonniegowen permalink
    28/07/2014 10:13 am

    I love inspiring words. They are great words to live by.

  23. Ann Bacciaglia permalink
    28/07/2014 11:12 am

    If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous. Be happy anyway…I love this line. It is so true and something that I remind myself. Thanks for sharing this inspiration.

  24. Rach @ Eazy Peazy Mealz permalink
    28/07/2014 9:50 am

    Both are amazing pieces. Mother Theresa is so inspiring. Thanks for sharing this great post, very uplifting, just what I needed today.

  25. 28/07/2014 3:17 pm

    Positive poems. “What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight. Create anyway.” I love that one, for personal reasons. Thanks for the positivity!

  26. John Lopez permalink
    28/07/2014 6:21 pm

    I’m so impressed by this, great words of wisdome.

  27. 28/07/2014 7:45 pm

    Wonderful post – beautiful poem. This is a great reminder for how we should live every day!

  28. Leira Bhagwani Pagaspas permalink
    28/07/2014 7:53 pm

    This is a nice poem and truly inspirational!! This is the best line in the poem Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth. Give the world the best you have anyway.

  29. klg1982 permalink
    29/07/2014 11:47 am

    I heart mother theresa. one of my favorite messages.

  30. Rochies permalink
    30/07/2014 3:05 am

    This is a wonderful piece of writing. I especially appreciate this line “If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.” It’s a great motivation for me.

  31. brijdeepk permalink
    30/07/2014 12:35 pm

    yes, yes, yes.. this poem is my absolute favorite, I even remember parts of it because I have read it so many times and have saved it in so many places in my computer.. thanks for sharing this again.. 🙂

  32. Megan Alyse permalink
    30/07/2014 5:43 pm

    I love this! Great messages on how to live life the right way. 🙂

  33. 31/07/2014 6:43 am

    My first time reading this poem. It has a nice sentiment and the photos you picked match very well.

  34. 03/08/2014 5:37 am

    I had read the 1st version with Mother Teresa. It’s been very inspirational. Thank you for posting it. I enjoyed reading it again.

  35. katrinajeancarter permalink
    30/10/2016 4:32 pm

    Love the positivity in this post so much. That mural is fantastic, too. I know this is one of your earliest posts–but oh my! You’ve been so good at it.

  36. Ana De-Jesus permalink
    22/05/2017 11:16 am

    I like the paradoxical commandments because it is so true. Even if people try and negative do good anyway as it will make you feel better x

  37. kumamonjeng permalink
    13/10/2018 2:21 am

    I love Dr Kent Keith inspiring word on DO IT anyway. It never between you and them so just do it and be kind and sincere.

  38. Grandma Penny permalink
    19/12/2022 5:38 am

    I went to the Internet to look up this poem. I had it for years, but never the complete version of it. The one I had, never showed an author to it nor did I know who the author was or that mother Theresa had anything to do with it either. The version I saw here is more complete and just as beautiful. I am so happy to know of its origins and I looked it up today because I wanted to share it on another post I was on it was so negative. It was all about people helping people. Someone posted a reminder to us that we should help people when they’re old and disable and receive them and I like that post because I myself used to do that a lot and never realize how many other people did. I never realize it until I got old and disabled like I am now and notice how many people come to me to help me. They actually come to me and I am so blessed. I have learned through this though, that even though I don’t like to ask for help and it took me a while to adjust to being disabled, that I should ask sometimes as well and I noticed that when I go somewhere and need help, like going to Costco and riding in a car to go back and get a 40 pack of water and I know that I can’t lift it, sometimes I’ve waited a minute until someone comes over to get water for their self and then I ask if they’ll please get me a pack of water and they always do it! I am so impressed with the fact that no one has ever denied me and they have always kindly picked it up and put it in my cart and I feel so greatly blessed by this and appreciative! The thing that I noticed is that people generally are good and they really do want to help other people. People all have the ability to be good but sometimes you just need to be in the right circumstance to feel that. I’m so glad I looked this poem up today because it reminded me of how I want to be in 2023! I really want to be a better person, even though I am old and disabled and it’s taking me a while to get used to that, I want to be a better person and this poem is my inspiration and I’m going to do it this next year I’m going to change and be a better person!

    • Eliz@MirthandMotivation permalink*
      14/11/2023 4:18 pm

      So good to hear from you. I haven’t been blogging of late because of other life demands but I come in to do updates in the backroom. Hope you are doing well. Sending you hugs, blessings and love.

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