08 May 4 things to include in your morning routine for more happiness
by Eric Barker
Sometimes life sucks. Bad. Really bad. And you feel like you want a refund.
But, of course, we need to accept that Life Avenue is going to have its share of potholes. Albert Ellis, one of the most influential psychologists ever, knew that “acceptance” is key to coping with the curve balls life throws at us.
It makes sense. Walking around constantly expecting life to give us everything we want is not only comically entitled and ridiculous, but would make existence a hell of perpetual frustration.
But here’s the thing: some of the wisest people who ever lived take it further than acceptance. A lot further…
Many of the greats embraced the concept of “Amor Fati.” To not only accept everything that life brings you, good or bad, but to love it. To embrace it. To revel in it. Every single bit of your life. Yes, even the truly horrible, awful, regrettable, don’t-ever-want-to-think-about-it-again moments.
To which I initially responded with a big honking: Huh? Seriously?
The Stoic philosopher Epictetus said:
Don’t seek for everything to happen as you wish it would, but rather wish that everything happens as it actually will – then your life will be serene.
And Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius agreed:
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. It is from you that all things come: all things are within you, and all things move toward you.
And this seemingly loony idea persisted. In the 19th century Nietzsche wrote:
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.
So we should wake up and think “Amor Fati”? We should wake up and think a lot of life is going to be awful — and then love that? And this is the key to a joyous life filled with great achievement?
I repeat: Huh? Seriously?
We’re gonna need a little help to fully unpack this one. So I gave somebody a call who knows this stuff…
Ryan Holiday is the bestselling author of The Daily Stoic and The Obstacle is the Way. His latest book is Conspiracy. He’s going to help us get to the bottom of how loving everything in your life — including the truly awful stuff — is one of the most powerful ideas around. And a great way to start your day.
Let’s get to it…
How To “Amor” Your “Fati”
The Stoics never said “Amor Fati.” It was Nietzsche who coined the phrase. But Ryan feels those two words best encapsulate the entire philosophy of Stoicism. He credits author Robert Greene with turning him on to the idea. Here’s how Ryan defines the term:
Amor Fati is a mindset that you take on for making the best out of anything that happens. Treating each and every moment – no matter how challenging – as something to be embraced, not avoided. To not only be okay with it, but love it and be better for it. So that like oxygen to a fire, obstacles and adversity become fuel for your potential.
That’s profound… and it also sounds really damn hard. (I’m not sure I have it in me to love life when there’s a paper jam and I want to throw my printer out the window.)
But a better understanding of Stoicism helps here. The Stoics were big on “the dichotomy of control.” So much of your life is not under your control. You can’t control the world or other people. Often you can’t control what’s going on in your head. The only thing you can control is your deliberate thoughts and actions.
So to let our happiness and self-worth hinge on what we cannot control is futile. Ridiculous. We often unconsciously default to thinking that we have control over everything — and then we’re angry, sad or frustrated when the universe quickly reminds us that we don’t.
We cannot control most things. But we can control how we feel about them by changing the expectation that we’re entitled to have everything go our way all the time. We can treat life less like a capricious opponent, and approach it with a curiosity and a respect for its challenges. Here’s Ryan:
We don’t control most of what happens in life. That seems like a weakness. But we do control what our reaction is to those events. What we tell ourselves they mean to us and how we will integrate them into our lives. On the one hand, we’re powerless, but on the other hand we’re deeply empowered. To the Stoics, most of what happens is outside of our control, but we have this superpower of being able to love, embrace, accept, and make the most of what does happen. That’s this idea of Amor Fati. If you think about it, it’s fate. Fate is implying a lack of control, and love is, in regard to your reaction, implies an intense agency that you choose to love that fate.
Life is not gonna give you what you want all the time. You’d agree with that, right? Then why are we so frustrated when we don’t get what we want? We take pleasures for granted and are frustrated by the difficulties. Yet we readily admit difficulties are inevitable and pleasures must be worked for. It’s totally inconsistent — and the source of most of our bad feelings.
So try taking the difficulties for granted instead of the pleasures. Accept them. Love them as challenges that can help you grow. Robert Greene said, “With (Amor Fati), you feel that everything happens for a purpose, and that it is up to you to make this purpose something positive and active.”
You’re on a journey. Your unique journey. “Accepting fate” sounds like you’re about to be executed or something — but it shouldn’t. Think about concepts like “patriotism” or “parenthood.” With these, we know and accept there will be pain and there will be sacrifice but it all serves the greater journey. And we welcome the problems.
Everything is not and should not be easy. You can get where you are going, but you need to start here, with your life and its circumstances, whatever they may be. It’s not a perfect life, but there is no perfect life. There is only your life. Love it. And rise to the challenges it offers you.
(To learn more about the science of a successful life, check out my bestselling book here.)
So this all sounds great but next time the printer jams, what’s to stop all this fancy philosophy from going right out the window along with your patience?
What do we do in the moment when life reminds you you aren’t in charge and won’t be getting everything on your existential Christmas list?
…keep reading the full & original article HERE