‘Amor Fati’ is a Latin phrase that translates as ‘love of one’s fate’.
It’s used to describe an attitude towards life in which you see everything that happens, including loss and suffering, as good or at the very least necessary. Instead of just accepting or complaining about what we experience in life, we must love everything that happens to us.
The phrase is often associated with Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900); a German philosopher who made the love of fate central to his philosophy.
He wrote that his formula for greatness in a human being is amor fati: that we must want nothing to be different, not forward, not backward, not in all eternity. He believed that we must not merely bear what is necessary, but love it.
We must not see illness, death, loss, and pain as bad things. We must love them as they are all part of the human condition. They are necessary in our development as humans. We must love them for they make us better, stronger people. Hence, the phrase “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”.
Nietzsche recommends that we have an uncompromising acceptance of reality. This is how we can live a happy, fulfilled life. See all experiences as necessary and perfect in our development as a human being.
You Need the Good and the Bad
Nietzsche viewed the bad and the good as inextricably linked. He did not promote suffering as good in itself, but rather a precondition for good.
One extreme, cannot have meaning without the other: you need pain in order to be able to feel joy.
Joy and suffering are two sides of the same coin. Pain allows us to experience life and happiness with more profound depth. It is through trials and resistance that we can fully savour moments of peace and serenity.
Think of climbing a mountain: it can be hard, tiring, painful and scary. But once you get to the top the view is amazing. You gain a great sense of achievement that would not have been possible without the pain of pushing yourself up there.
If you’d stayed at the bottom of the mountain, and hadn’t struggled through pain to get to the top you would never gain the same sense of accomplishment.
The mountain climbing analogy can be applied to anything in life: you need the bad in order to feel the good.
The pain of working on a project is needed to make a promotion all the more rewarding. The pain of a death of a loved one is needed to make us value those we still have in our lives.
Can You Love Everything that Happens to You?
Amor fati allows us to keep moving forward without becoming cynical or feeling defeated. It’s easy to enjoy the good and just complain about the bad things.
Amor fati is an attitude that’s very hard to achieve; no-one wants to love the death of a close one. But Amor fati is an attempt to regain power over our own mindset whilst also accepting that much of what happens in life is beyond our control.
Ultimately amor fati is a way to re-frame our perception that gives our experiences and hardships meaning and value. With this attitude you can feel that everything happens for a reason, and that it is up to you to make this reason something positive or negative.
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