Despite being adjudged clinically insane before his death, which usually doesn’t do much good for your life’s work, Friedrich Nietzsche is still considered one of the most impactful people on modern Western Philosophy.
Aside from his famous quote of ‘God is dead’ which foreshadowed the rise of many of the ideologues that we see today, a slightly more positive and practical concept that he coined was ‘Amor Fati’ which translates as a ‘love of one’s fate’.
This love comes from a place of acceptance and is a realisation that sometimes life is going to be insanely fun and fulfilling and other times it is going to be excruciatingly painful. It isn’t resisting the good because you feel you don’t deserve it and it isn’t resisting the bad because you feel you don’t deserve it.
It’s throwing the multi-sided dice of life and knowing that sometimes you are going to throw a powerful and fulfilling six and other times you are going to chuck a measly one again and again.
Maybe that wasn’t the best analogy that I could possibly come up with but I don’t mind. Amor Fati.
In fact, Nietzsche didn’t come up with this Amor Fati concept and take it lightly. No, no, no. He considered this the one formula for greatness. Here is the full quote:
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… but love it.
I recently read Mark Manson’s unsurprisingly-excellent book ‘Everything is F*cked: A book about hope‘ and Nietzche’s concept of Amor Fati is quite prominent in it. Manson makes a very interesting point that ‘everything being fucked doesn’t require hope, but that hope requires everything to be fucked.’ That means that hope only really pops up when there are problems that need fixing. That while hope has sent a man to the moon, it has also led to awful atrocities (Hitler hoped for a superior Aryan race, for example).
Rather than idealising hope and the impossible promise of a perfect world, it is sometimes better to simply accept both the good and the bad that come from the package deal of being an imperfect human. To love the struggle, the pain, the imperfections as much as the freedom, the bliss and the perfection. Loving whatever comes and whatever is here, now.
Of course, this isn’t a call to sit and watch Netflix all day and ‘love your fate’ of a deteriorating body and mind. It’s a call to not hide away from the negatives and challenges that arise in the Game of Life and instead to learn to love them. To embrace the inevitable and valuable lessons that they will teach.
This is useful! It goes a step further than mere acceptance, which suggests bearing up and tolerating which are still ways of struggling against what is. Thank you for illuminating this concept.
Exactly! I think the concept leans more towards directing your own fate and loving the highs and lows, rather than turning to apathy and letting life just happen to you. Thanks for your comment Christine