Amor Fati: Your Guide On How To Love Your Fate
“That one wants nothing to be different, not forward, not backwards, not in all eternity. Not merely bear what is necessary, still less conceal it….but love it.”
– Friedrich Nietzsche
Although the famous German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche wasn’t a Stoic in the traditional sense, he shared many of his core ideas with Stoicism – most notably that of Amor Fati or “Love of Fate”.
Amor Fati is one of the most powerful and liberating ideas of not just Stoicism but any philosophy.
To love one’s fate is to take any situation that you find yourself in and to turn it into something positive. Enjoyment, enthusiasm or just mere acceptance are the three qualities that are characterised by Amor Fati in every day life.
Marcus Aurelius once said that “A blazing fire makes flame and brightness out of everything that is thrown into it.” It is easy to accept the good times but when challenges come along, this is when we must each turn into that metaphorical Blazing Fire.
Amor Fati in Stoicism
Although the philosopher Nietzsche may be credited with the term “Amor Fati”, this love of fate and ultimate acceptance of life is something that was and is deeply integrated into the Stoic philosophy.
As well as his “Blazing Fire” quote, Marcus Aurelius also wrote about the power of surrendering to life, the universe or ‘Logos’ as the Stoics often referred to it in his book Meditations:
“All that is in accord with you is in accord with me, O World! Nothing which occurs at the right time for you comes too soon or too late for me. All that your seasons produce, O Nature, is fruit for me.”
Marcus Aurelius spoke about Amor Fati a number of times and other Stoics taught very similar messages too. As Epictetus also said on the topic: “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.”
Like with many things in Stoicism, the teachings are simple yet take plenty of practice to apply. The same is true for Amor Fati.
How can I completely surrender to life? What will happen to my plans for the future? What if I have been hard done to? If I ‘love my fate’, won’t that mean I will be powerless to change anything negative in my life?
All of these are common questions of the mind that will hopefully be answered and debunked right here in this article.
“Maybe” – The Zen Parable of Amor Fati
There is a Taoist story of an old farmer who had worked his crops for many years. One day his horse ran away. Upon hearing the news, his neighbours came to visit. “Such bad luck,” they said sympathetically. “Maybe,” the farmer replied.
The next morning the horse returned, bringing with it three other wild horses. “How wonderful!” the neighbours exclaimed. “Maybe,” replied the old man.
The following day, his son tried to ride one of the untamed horses, was thrown, and broke his leg. The neighbours again came and said how awful it was. “Maybe,” answered the farmer.
The day after, military officials came to the village to draft young men into the army. Seeing that the son’s leg was broken, they passed him by. The neighbours congratulated the farmer on how well things had turned out. “Maybe,” said the farmer.
Although not from the Stoics, this Zen parable perfectly captures the essence of Amor Fati. A wise person knows to only accept – not interpret – life’s events. ‘Good’ and ‘bad’ are only true from one point of view and without any knowledge of the future.
Acceptance: The Whole Essence of Amor Fati
Despite being only a simple message, there are many angles from which Amor Fati can be looked at. Essentially though, all angles and interpretations can be condensed into one thing: acceptance of what is happening right now.
Although it might be helpful to go into the past and accept it or accept the future in advance, Amor Fati is all about the only moment there is: the present. As Marcus Aurelius so wisely said: “Remember that man lives only in the present, in this fleeting instant; all the rest of his life is either past and gone, or not yet revealed.”
To really understand Amor Fati is to focus on acceptance of fate or acceptance of what is. Contrary to what most people believe, acceptance is not saying everything is fine when it isn’t and adopting a “do-nothing” attitude. Acceptance is seeing clearly what is going on and either taking action if action is necessary or taking no action if no action is necessary. It is being one with what is happening, not in resistance to it. It is that simple.
The core teaching of Stoicism rings true here: accept what you control right now and accept what you don’t control right now – and be at peace with both. This is the essential message of Amor Fati.
The Universe’s Story, Not Ours.
Despite what our human egos let us believe, life is far bigger than us as individuals and even us as a species.
We obsess over our plans and our future and our preferences and our wants, forgetting that the universe was doing its thing before we came and will be doing its thing long after we’ve gone.
Every so often, we get a humbling reminder about who is really in charge – maybe in the form of a pandemic or a natural disaster.
Every so often, we get a humbling reminder about just how small we really are – often when we experience beauty through watching a sunset or gazing up at the night sky.
So it’s okay to have your plans for the future, just don’t become attached to them.
As we are reminded so often in life, we really don’t know what is around the corner. So love your fate, whatever that might be, and be that Blazing Fire no matter what the universe decides is next in its unfathomable story.
To help you integrate the power of Amor Fati in your everyday life, we created an Amor Fati Challenge Coin as a physical reminder. Keep this coin with you and in sight to be consistently reminded to love whatever life throws at you.