Thoughtful Thursday: Do it anyway!

I love the many positive quotes that regularly come my way on Facebook, for which I am always grateful.  One that appeared in my newsfeed last week (thanks, Randy) caught my attention sufficiently for me to google for further background.  As you’ll see below, it’s written by Kent M. Keith, who until then I had not heard of.  When I looked up ‘Paradoxical Commandments’, I found these words of wisdom credited to Mr. Keith, but also credited to Mother Theresa.  Before I share the full story, these are the inspirational words that got my attention.  There is so much good advice in these commandments for each and every one of us.

TT-ParadoxicalCommandments

Great advice, right?!  Do it anyway.  It turns out that Kent Keith wrote these commandments while a 19-year old sophomore at Harvard in 1968, for inclusion in a handbook for student leaders.  Subsequently, the commandments spread far and wide, including apparently to India, where Mother Theresa was so taken with them that she hung them on the wall in her children’s home in Calcutta.  One thing led to another, as so often is the case, and people who had visited Mother Theresa reported on the inspirational commandments they assumed she had written.  Kent Keith himself, nearly 30 years after he had written the commandments, heard them read out at a meeting, attributed to Mother Theresa.  You can imagine his surprise.  It turned out that the person reading them had noticed them in a book about Mother Theresa.  Talk about serious affirmation of your work!

Realizing that his words could serve as an inspirational source for someone as inspiring as Mother Theresa herself, Mr. Keith decided to expand on the Paradoxical Commandments, written so long ago, and the concepts he had hoped to encourage.  Hence his book published in 2002, Anyway: The Paradoxical Commandments, Finding Personal Meaning in a Crazy World.

TT-ParadoxicalBook

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26 Responses to Thoughtful Thursday: Do it anyway!

  1. I’ve seen these but didn’t know the backstory. A 19-year-old. That’s amazing.

  2. My aunt showed me the exact same thing before! I thought it was great. And I love how you do background searches of things that you find on Facebook – this is super and the world needs more of it!

  3. I hadn’t heard these words before, but they’re wonderful! So glad you shared them.

  4. heimdalco says:

    What a timely post. Mr. Keith’s Paradoxical Commandments should be “required reading” for everyone on the planet … starting with politicians & world leaders from everywhere. Thank you for posting

    • Jane Fritz says:

      Thanks, GS. You are so right that many leaders could benefit from some of this advice, or rather that we could all benefit from our leaders taking these commandments to heart. If only.

  5. Wynne Leon says:

    What a great story, Jane! I love that you uncovered it and shared it with us. And Kent Keith’s reaction to learning that his words had been misattributed is priceless! Such a good reminder that life isn’t so much about what happens to us in life but how we react to it. Beautiful!!

  6. I had forgotten about these gems. Thank you Jane for the reminder, especially today.

    Deb

  7. margiran says:

    Fascinating story and I love the paradoxical statements Jane. I’m happy that due attribution is to Kent Keith, who must have been born in 1949 the same year as me! A very good year it was too! 😉
    Mother Teresa was a celebrity, with a very well-managed brand but that’s another story altogether! 🙂

  8. Inkplume says:

    This is – and probably always is – so timely. Thanks for sharing.

  9. Rose says:

    Thank you. I’ve loved these Paradoxical Commandments for a long time, but had no idea where they came from. I was once a ‘quote collector’ but over time, I’ve seen the same quotes attributed to many different people. And sometimes, it’s difficult to search through history to find the original spokesperson.

    • Jane Fritz says:

      You were ahead of me, knowing about these statements, Rose. You’re right, many inspirational quotes seem to have multiple attributions. These are special, and so deserving of correct attribution.

  10. Phew! Must have been disconcerting for Kent Keith. Truly, the book seems as though it is a book for all times.

  11. What came to mind as I read this is, “Your written words may be stolen or attributed to another. Write them anyway.” What a great story this is. Thank you for sharing!

  12. Hello Jane. I found your blog through a comment you left on Debs Despatches, and I’m so glad I did. I found these paradoxical commandments inspiring and the history behind them fascinating. Imagine your words being attributed to Mother Theresa…high endorsement indeed.

  13. debscarey says:

    First off, I love the commandments. And to think someone so young wrote them – absolutely amazing!

    But what’s even more interesting is the story you uncovered of how they became mis-attributed. I’ve noticed this type of thing happens more and more now. I suspect it’s laziness, or inability to think for themselves/question on the part of the listener, rather than the speaker who says/repeats something and, without any mal-intent, finds it has become attributed to them.

    Fascinating story though, thanks Jane.

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