Is the attribution of this quote to William Shakespeare correct?

I always feel happy. You know why? Because I don’t expect anything from anyone. Expectations always hurt… Life is short… So love your life… Be happy… And keep smiling… Just live for yourself and…
Before you speak? Listen..
Before you write? Think..
Before you spend? Earn..

This quote is widely used as a status line in social networks.
Examples: top quotes collection, tumblr, blog entry.
I failed to find the source of this quote in the works of Shakespeare. Can someone prove or disprove this attribution?

  • 14
    Doesn't sound like The Bard. But who knows, it could be a reworded sonnet.
    – jwenting
    Feb 8, 2012 at 11:52
  • 6
    my brain is playing tricks to me, for a moment I read william shatner instead of william shakespeare Feb 8, 2012 at 17:40
  • 13
    This sounds like one of those chain emails. You know the ones made of a mishmash of unattributed cut and pasted quotes written in a really big pink and red fonts with a couple of silly pictures of dogs. Feb 8, 2012 at 18:17
  • 3
    @jwenting, agree. It really doesn't sound like Shakespeare. Feb 9, 2012 at 5:45
  • 5
    "No, that was Einstein." — Shakespeare Jul 8, 2016 at 16:06

1 Answer 1


I can see that part of the text in the post is taken from another set of quotes by William Arthur Ward

Before You By William Arthur Ward

Before you speak, listen.

Before you write, think.

Before you spend, earn.

Before you invest, investigate.

Before you criticize, wait.

Before you pray, forgive.

Before you quit, try.

Before you retire, save.

Before you die, give.

I've also run keyword searches on two Shakespeare search engines 1 1 and cannot find phrases such as "Expectations always hurt" and "Keep smiling" at all.

So I'm going to say the passage you've posted is NOT by Shakespeare - at least, not all of it.

On a sidenote - one phrase which did exist is "Life is short"

Henry IV, Part I [V, 2]

I cannot read them now. O gentlemen, the time of life is short!

Shakespeare, however, did say something similar to "Expectations always hurt" in All's Well That Ends Well.

Oft expectation fails and most oft there

  • 3
    brilliant work deciphering its authenticity and origin :)
    – user17033
    Jan 8, 2014 at 12:52
  • 1
    "Oft expectation fails, and most oft there / Where most it promises; and oft it hits / Where hope is coldest, and despair most fits."
    – Jim Balter
    Apr 23, 2019 at 21:37

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