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Putting Amor Fati to the Test
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ONE FROM THE AGES
Master Samurai swordsman, Miyamoto Musashi, on the power of dropping mental conjecture:
“Observation and perception are two separate things. The observing eye is stronger, the perceiving eye is weaker.”
What stories have you been telling yourself, lately?
ONE FROM TODAY
You have to wake up early for work. You have to make another sales call for your business. You have to work out today. You have to write an article. You have to make dinner for your family. You have to go to your son’s game. Now, imagine changing just one word in the sentences above.
You don’t “have” to. You “get” to.
You get to wake up early for work. You get to make another sales call for your business. You get to cook dinner for your family. By simply changing one word, you shift the way you view each event. You transition from seeing these behaviors as burdens and turn them into opportunities.
The key point is that both versions of reality are true. You have to do those things, and you also get to do them. We can find evidence for whatever mind-set we choose.
I once heard a story about a man who uses a wheelchair. When asked if it was difficult being confined, he responded, “I’m not confined to my wheelchair—I am liberated by it. If it wasn’t for my wheelchair, I would be bed-bound and never able to leave my house.”
Source: Atomic Habits, by James Clear
ONE FROM US
A bit over a year ago, Justin sent me a coin that sits on my desk. He has one just like it. On one side is a blazing fire and the words, “Amor Fati.” The other side explains the meaning of this Latin proverb with a quote from Friedrich Nietzsche: “Not merely to bear what is necessary… but love it.”
These past couple of weeks, I’ve found myself becoming frustrated and even jealous. There are more books that I want to read than I can keep up with, more books that I want to write than I ever could, and more skills I want to learn than the day can hold. Structure and productivity fuel my mood. But, productivity is hard when you have a three-year-old in his “why” phase and a 19-month old who is on top of another table every time you turn around. My wife and I have set a schedule where we spot each other independent time, but I’ve craved more.
Around the world, small business owners are desperately trying to stay afloat, employees are being laid off, doctors are working overtime, and here I am whining about not getting enough “me-time.” Amor Fati. My small challenges are exactly what I need to optimize my systems, communicate better, and become a better father/husband/person. They are exactly what I need.
Every event offers an opportunity - it holds a lesson that can springboard us to another level. With this lens, we can not just endure but love every experience just as it happens. Still, this is easier said than done. We all lose sight of the Amor Fati lens sometimes (often for far better reasons than my example). But if we can catch ourselves, we can throw it back on. The best response is always to appreciate each event, intent to seize the opportunity.
Face Your Fear (My struggle through OCD - the most formative challenge of my life)
The Unfathomable Power of Amor Fati, Ryan Holiday