Amor Fati — the love of fate and how to embrace adversity

Chris Erzfeld
Dec 2, 2018 · 5 min read

Amor fati — In all walks of life, we have to endure adversity; we must face the inevitable events that come with living — the death of a loved one, a painful breakup, and dealing with awful people who are out to hurt us.

Although we deeply wish this wasn’t so, we must still find the strength to carry on and pull ourselves together after the storm has hit us, and ripped us all to shreds.

So if we can’t choose whether or not we face adversity, if we can’t avoid the hardships of life, there must exist another angle from which we can live so that we can keep our backs straight as we walk through fire.

There must be a way so that we can grow stronger and be better prepared to endure, and even transcend, our suffering so that we can take on the burdens of life and not succumb under the weight of the world when tragedy comes our way.

The Stoics had a way of dealing with adversity and the tragedies of life.

  • They called it Amor Fati, the love of fate.

Amor fati — the love of fate

Photo by Olga Bast on Unsplash

Amor fati is the idea that whatever happens to you in life, good or bad, is meant for you to bear.

No matter how colossal the tragedy, it holds a valuable lesson from which you grow.

And instead of focusing on all the negative parts of your experience, you instead choose to widen your horizons; you start looking for the door that flung open, supplying you with more options to choose from so that you train yourself to see opportunities instead of obstacles.

Friedrich Nietzsche wrote about Amor fati in his book Ecce Homo:

“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.”

Understanding the lessons of Amor fati

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If you can get in the habit of viewing everything as a lesson, that whatever happens serves a purpose that you must not only endure but love, you will find the strength to guide you through whatever comes your way.

You understand that there are meaningful lessons embedded in every impediment if you approach them from the right angle; a tragedy is not the end of all things that are good, but an apprenticeship in overcoming adversity.

Marcus Aurelius wrote about this idea of changing your psychology in his personal journal:

“[Y]ou can endure anything your mind can make endurable, by treating it as in your interest to do so. In your interest, or in your nature.”

So if you can’t change your circumstances, if you can’t determine your fate, you must change the angle from which you see so that you can take on whatever storm comes roaring, with open arms, eagerly awaiting the lessons you will learn.

The love of fate

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It is, however, easy to adopt the mindset of Amor fati in an everyday situation when the bus is late or when someone yells at you for no reason, thinking that you are in the trenches, thriving in the midst of adversity.

But the true test, and thus true strength, comes in situations where other people would break under the relentless pressure, but you choose to stand up straight and endure what is in front of you because you know that it is the right thing to do.

If a family member dies, you are the one to lean on.

Would you get fired, you immediately start looking for another job. Without complaining.

If you end up in a place, not of your choosing, a situation you can’t change, you always look inward with the intent of changing yourself so that you don’t only survive but thrive in the midst of external uncertainty.

Viktor Frankl, a Holocaust survivor of several Nazi concentration camps, wrote about this in his world-quaking book Man’s Search For Meaning and how he managed to survive the indescribable torture he had to endure during WWII:

“When we are no longer able to change a situation — we are challenged to change ourselves.”

The lens of Amor fati

Photo by Avi Richards on Unsplash

That is the lens from which you want to view the world; for each time you conquer adversity, every time that you transcend your suffering, there is an enormous amount of strength to be gained.

The strength that you can, and will, use the next time you must overcome debilitating tragedy.

  • You remember the last time you overcame such difficulties; you remind yourself of how strong you were, and that there is a lesson to be found once you get in the habit of accepting, and even loving, what is right in front of you so that you can push through whatever obstacle is standing in your way.

If you are on your path, if you pursue what you were meant to do in life, nothing that happens is irrelevant; there is a deep-rooted lesson that you must uncover and allow to color your life with knowledge and unquestionable truth.

Only then can you embrace the idea of Amor fati, the love of fate, and begin turning devastation into apprehension.

Finally, you say to yourself:

I have been through enough. I know that whatever happens now is okay because I am on my path. Nothing can harm me. Because I know whatever comes my way comes to me on my way. Nothing is too much to bear.

P.S. I send out a weekly newsletter every Sunday that I think you will like. Head over to my blog to read more about it!

Chris Erzfeld

Written by

An aspiring behavioral designer writing about human nature — actionable lessons for a rational life.

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