Amor Fati: To Love What Is Necessary

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The idea of Amor Fati, that is, to love one’s destiny, is one very close to the stoics, from Marcus Aurelius to Seneca, to Nietzche, who wrote the quote below.

“My formula for human greatness is amor fati: that one wants nothing to be different, not in the future, not in the past, not for all eternity. Not only to endure what is necessary, still less to conceal it — all idealism is falseness in the face of necessity — , but to love it

Now, does this idea of loving one’s fate mean we should remain passive towards life? To just accept things as they appear?

One could definitely interpret it that way.

However, I would like to belive this philosophy goes much deeper than that.

Instead, in my opinion, what it means is to avoid complaining and wishing for things to be different, while simultaneously, striving to do the best with what life has given us. To keep moving towards our ambitions with whatever tools we have at our disposal.

Now, while this sounds exciting and motivating on paper, in reality, things will be much different.

Of course, there will be days when you wish you just had a tiny bit more money, or connections, or luck, or whatever you think it is that you're missing.

So, with that in mind, I want to show you something that may change that mentality…

What If You Had Everything?

Think about it for a second, what if, out of the blue, all the things you think you need right now were granted to you immediately?

Really try and put yourself in that position, envision what your life would look like, feel like, smell like.

Having achieved what you think would make you happy, for just how long would that fulfil you?

A day, a week, a month?

Most likely, you can imagine that after a while something else would call for you. A new ambition would appear and with it the same feelings from before.

This is the reason why so many rich people say money doesn’t make you happy. Because after a lifetime of searching for it they realize how empty it all feels when you get it.

“Wealth consists not in having great possessions, but in having few wants.” — Epictetus

So does this mean we are destined for a life of eternal dissatisfaction, always looking for the next thing to hopefully fulfil us?

Well, yes… and no. Let me explain.

The Paradox Of Amor Fati

“Be content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.” — Lao Tzu

The reason why I believe so many people remain unhappy, despite all their great achievements, is that they never trained themselves to be happy with what they already have.

And while their insatiable desire for more allowed for a great life on paper, in reality, things can be much different.

How many times haven’t we heard of famous actors and musicians, the supposed 1%, that seemed to have the perfect life on the outside but then end up in rehab clinics, with mental health issues, or in the worst-case scenario, kill themselves?

People who seemed to have everything, but even then, it wasn’t enough.

So, while I think that it is pretty clear by now that having more isn’t the solution, I also know that you are probably wondering:

Wait, but if I become happy with what I have right now, why would I ever try and have a better life, that would benefit not only me but also everyone around me?

This is where I believe the most crucial part of Amor Fati happens.

That is, just because we are happy with what we have right now, that doesn’t mean we won’t have goals to strive for. Much on the contrary.

It just means that we won’t be looking for said happiness/fulfilment in those goals. Regardless of whether we fail or achieve what we set out to do, we won’t be that emotionally attached to it, meaning, that we will most likely to a much greater job at it.

However, this means coming to the sad realization that nothing that we don’t have right now will ever give us that sense of meaning and fulfilment we have been looking for.

It requires us to look inside ourselves to try and find that meaning and purpose, which a lot of times, will require periods where one feels lost and hopeless.

However, I also believe, that is during these periods when we can come to the biggest realization towards Amor Fati, that is, to fully embrace those “bad” feelings.

To realize, that even when feeling like that, one can be grateful for the opportunity to experience those sensations.

To realize that only when we give up our need for our life to be meaningful and complete, can we come closer to it.

So How Does One Start Applying Amor Fati?

Quite simply, meditation and journaling.

For centuries, the great thinkers have been doing it and this can be as simple as sitting down for 10 minutes while focusing on your breathing.

If you’re wondering why this would ever help with being more grateful, I’ll explain.

What happens, at least for me, is that when I sit down and force myself to be with my thoughts for a certain period of time, I start to slow down, my breathing goes deeper and I accept much better whatever feelings and thoughts are coming to me. By doing this I start coming to terms with the fact that the bad emotions aren’t so bad after all, but also, that the good ones aren’t that amazing as well.

With this I start focusing on the calmness in between these emotions, coming to the conclusion that all good and bad is temporary, but this calmness will always be there if I look for it, and in it, I find my sense of completeness.

In it, I can confidently say that nothing really seems to affect me.

However, this is when everything goes well. Of course, there are days when I’m in a rush and everything seems to bring me down.

It’s part of the process.

However, at the end of the day, it comes down to being ok with having those bad days, realizing that to truly apply Amor Fati is to look at those times with a smile on our face and a sense of peace, knowing that we can do better tomorrow…

But, for now, we choose to enjoy this mess.

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Stoicism & Philosophy | Building @pathsofmeaning

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