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Amor Fati: Love your fate
Avthar's Weekly Wisdom #61 (09/06/2021)
🔥 I’m Avthar, a South African technology entrepreneur and learning enthusiast based in New York City. This digital letter is where I share practical wisdom about self-mastery, entrepreneurship, health and happiness, all to help you live better.
My guarantee is that you’ll discover one thing that will help you change your life in every edition. As a reminder, you can find all previous editions of this newsletter in the archive. And you can find more of my writings at avthar.com.
Here’s what I want to share with you this week:
A short essay on amor fati
How to get out of a rut
Leadership and life lessons from a football legend.
Amor Fati: Love your fate
One of the books that’s most impacted my life is “The Obstacle is the Way” by Ryan Holiday. Back in 2019, I was fortunate to meet Mr Holiday during a speaking event in New York and he signed my copy of the book. In his inscription, he wrote just two words:
It means “love your fate” or more simply, love everything that happens.
Not just tolerate it. Not grin and bear it. Not just accept it.
But to love it. To welcome it. To embrace it.
Practicing amor fati doesn’t mean labeling everything that happens as good — that’s naive. It means going beyond just renaming a situation from bad to good, and truly reframing our perspective to recognize that there’s some good in every situation and to actively search for it.
Navy Seal Jocko Willink once had a subordinate who complained that whenever something was going wrong Willink would simply respond, “Good”, much to the subordinate’s annoyance. On his podcast, Willink revealed that he practiced amor fati in his own way by saying: “When things are going bad, there’s going to be some good that will come from it.”
Oh, the mission got canceled? Good… We can focus on another one.
Didn’t get the new high-speed gear we wanted? Good… We can keep it simple.
Didn’t get promoted? Good… More time to get better.
Didn’t get funded? Good… We own more of the company.
Didn’t get the job you wanted? Good… Go out, gain more experience, and build a better resume.
Got injured? Good… Needed a break from training.
Got tapped out? Good… It’s better to tap out in training than tap out on the street.
Got beat? Good… We learned.
Unexpected problems? Good… We have to figure out solutions.
Amor fati means embracing the present moment and transforming obstacles in our path into tools to help us triumph. In his book, the “Power of Now”, spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle echoes the power of amor fati when he says: “Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it…Make it your friend and ally, not your enemy. This will miraculously transform your whole life”. Tolle’s words are striking: don’t simply accept the obstacles in our life, but live as if you desired them in the first place.
With proponents ranging from Roman empower Marcus Aurelius and stoic philosopher Epictetus, to Eckhart Tolle and Jocko Willink, it’s clear that practicing amor fati isn’t just for thinkers. It’s for the man in the arena - the student, the entrepreneur, the parent, the creative, the doer. It’s something each and every one of us can practice, no matter our profession or life situation.
Firas Zahabi, modern-day philosopher and champion MMA trainer, was once asked what he considers mental toughness, to which he replied, “Mental toughness is when you see only good in everything, even if something catastrophic happens, you only see the good, because there is some good in all bad events.”
Zahabi goes onto explain how practicing amor fati can help us build resilience in our journey to live our best life: “Someone who sees the positive in everything, you can’t beat him. You have to kill him to beat him. No matter how low down he is, he believes he can get to the top. Whereas someone who sees the negative, they’re easy to beat, they’ve already beat themselves.”
Life will inevitably have its downs: everything from difficulties, obstacles and annoyances to trials, suffering and injustice. Situations from the being overlooked for a promotion or losing money on an investment, to losing everything in a fire or the death of a loved one.
During these situations, we often suffer twice: the first wound is inflicted by the world, in the form of the misfortune actually occurring. The second wound is self-inflicted by our mind replaying the incident over and over, dwelling on the negatives and labeling ourselves as victims. Practicing amor fati won’t help us avoid life’s inevitable misfortune. But it can save ourselves from the unnecessary suffering imposed by our minds.
Finally, amor fati doesn’t mean that the good always outweighs the bad, but that there exists good in every situation and what’s more, we have the choice to focus our time, energy and attention on it.
That choice is always available to us. The choice to embrace the present moment. The choice to save ourselves from unnecessary suffering. The choice to love everything that happens.
Tweet of the week
Video of the week
Roy Keane opens up on a dog walk with Gary Neville
The Overlap by Gary Neville is quickly becoming one of my new go-to podcasts. This episode is my favorite one yet, where Manchester United legend Roy Keane opens up about his playing and managerial career, dropping gems about leadership, management and life throughout the episode. If you’re a soccer fan, this one is a must listen!
For more lessons from Roy Keane, see his take on high standards and doing your job.
🙏 Thank you again for reading and for your support! I wish you a week of happiness, success and peace! I hope you’re able to apply the “good enough for now” mindset to some aspect of your life where you feel stuck.