You’ve probably heard the phrases, “It is what it is,” “Attitude is everything,” or “What will be, will be.” You might not have realized that they all essentially refer to something called ‘Amor fati.’ It translates to “love of fate” and is all about embracing your destiny. It’s a mindset that was around back in the third century, practiced by the Stoics (for even more background, stoicism is a school of philosophy founded by Zeno of Citium in Athens in the early 3rd century). Stoic Epictetus explained, Amor fati means “Do not seek for things to happen the way you want them to; rather, wish that what happens happen the way it happens: then you will be happy.” Broken down in today’s speak, accept and be content with what happens instead of fighting it.
Often, the notion of Amor fati is linked to what philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche called “eternal recurrence.” That’s the idea that everything recurs infinitely over time. From this, Nietzsche created a desire to be willing to live the same life over and over and over for all eternity. In “Why I Am So Clever,” he wrote, “My formula for greatness in a human being is Amor fati: that one wants nothing to be different, not forward, not backward, not in all eternity. Not merely bear what is necessary, still less conceal it–all idealism is mendacity in the face of what is necessary–but love it.” The goal was to accept reality and embrace it even. Even when times are tough. In fact, Nietzsche saw suffering as a precondition for good, saying one extreme cannot have meaning without the other.
Even though the philosophy of Amor fati was founded back in the 3rd century, it’s still embraced today. It’s a mindset promoting acceptance of “what is,” eliminating the struggle many put themselves through in wanting something different. Psychiatrists and psychoanalysts often discuss the negative effects struggling or resisting can have on your life. As Carl Jung explains, “that which we resist, persists.” If you want a better way of life, Amor fati is worth consideration.
Think about it. We are always resisting life’s circumstances, whether you’re a teen unhappy with restrictions your parents put on you or an adult in a work situation making you miserable. The more upset you get, the less control you feel. You spiral into a negative space emotionally. Giving energy to this negative space intensifies the struggle. The more you resist your situation as it is, the worse it all becomes. However, if you can change your attitude or perspective, and stop resisting, everything shifts. You stop giving energy to the negative, and can now focus on the future and a more positive path. Redirecting your energy makes it much easier to tip the scales from negativity to positivity.
Many philosophers believe even obstacles exist to help drive us toward our goals. Each mistake has a lesson to learn, but we must be open to understanding that and figuring out what it is. In many cases, the obstacles help us know how much we want to achieve a certain goal. My mother used to tell me, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” I really hated that one because I didn’t really want more hard times, thank you very much. But as I’ve gotten older, it’s made a lot more sense. Sometimes, failing builds determination and drive to motivate you toward what you truly want. I’ve come to love a challenge, and that’s how I see obstacles now. A challenge sounds like a lot more fun, don’t you think?
The basic principle of the Amor fati mindset is to make the best out of anything that happens in life. Treat each and every moment as something to be embraced and not avoided, no matter how challenging. Life looks a lot brighter when suffering and hardship can be perceived as a challenge to overcome, defeat, and learn from. The idea is to not just be okay with what happens but embrace it and be better for it. Easier said than done, I know, but potentially life-changing.
Let’s face it, the lack of control is what frustrates us the most sometimes. This Amor fati mentality gives you the power to regulate how you respond to things good and bad in your life. The knowledge of realizing all things will pass makes a huge difference in helping us decide how to respond. Again, it circles back to the saying, “I can’t control what happens, but I can control how I’ll respond.”
It really is that simple. A choice. You can revel in the heartbreaks and disappointments or take joy in knowing you’ve conquered them. Adopting Amor fati into your mentality gets you on the right path to adjusting your life for the better.