Rules of Paradox

Anytime a book comes across my path that contains the words “Finding Personal Meaning in a Crazy World,” I automatically cringe and mentally tuck it away in the file called “Self Help Books I’ll Never Read.”

Lucky for Kent M. Keith, he titled his book “Anyway.”

I sighed, figured I should check it out “anyway,” and was intrigued enough to crack open the book.

Mr. Keith wasn’t wrong. We do indeed live in a crazy world – a world where I found a column idea in a book I never thought I’d read, the same world where his Paradoxical Commandments somehow found their way into the hands of Mother Teresa.

But that’s a story for a different time.

Today, I just wanted to pass along Mr. Keith’s paradoxical commandments to you.

But first, it might be important to define a paradox. According to Webster’s Dictionary, a paradox is a statement that seems to contradict common belief but may never theless be true.

For example, Keith’s first par adoxical commandment is this: “People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered. Love them anyway.”

Basically, Keith is saying we don’t have reasons to love peo- ple, but we should anyway.

I like Keith’s commandments because I’m one of those people who asks the questions: What’s the point? – In a crazy, illogical, messed up world, why am I doing what I’m doing?

Keith answers that question well: “When you live the paradoxical life, you will find personal meaning in a crazy world. You will make a difference. You will change lives.”

You will find value in doing things “anyway,” despite the world’s reactions.

Now, I know the term “commandments” is a scary one. But I promise you, even if you don’t believe God and the Bible and THE Ten Commandments, these “anyway” commandments should find their way into your plan for life.

“I am convinced that no matter how crazy the world is, people can find personal meaning. I am also convinced that the world would make more sense if people lived paradoxical lives, focused on personal meaning instead of recognition and applause.” – 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 build- ing 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.