Why philosophy for a better life? – Part II

Last week I wrote about the first part of this collection of articles, you can read here the first part. Today I will focus on the second part, how amor fati impacted my life. The concept of amor fati comes from the beautiful book that Nietzche wrote titled Ecce Homo. Ecce Homo is a recommended read, the book for me is a self examination of Nietzche looking for the same answers that Socrates once stated. In the book you will find the following quote that refers to amor fati:

«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.» Ecce Homo, Section 10

As Nietzche explains, greatness comes from not wanting anything to be different. To accept the fate (fati) with love. To understand that what is happening to us can be loved because of what it can (will) create. A creation that is in our hands.

Amor fati helped me view things that happened in my life from a different perspective, which for me is the whole purpose of philosophy. I often asked myself, before understanding this concept, the question: Why does this happened to me? Now the question has been reframed in: How to I love this?

I accept that at first it was difficult to make amends with myself for what has happened in my life that was not positive. I fought with the idea of how can I love what happened to me if it was, unfair, it was unjust, it was incorrect. Then I understood that these statements were harming only myself, they were impeding my growth. Yes, certain things in our lives are unfair, unjust and incorrect. Marcus Aurelius has a quote for this in his book Meditations, specifically in the second chapter of his journal, and it goes like this:

When you wake up in the morning, tell yourself: The
people I deal with today will be meddling, ungrateful,
arrogant, dishonest, jealous, and surly. They are like this
because they can’t tell good from evil. But I have seen the
beauty of good, and the ugliness of evil, and have recognized
that the wrongdoer has a nature related to my own—not of
the same blood or birth, but the same mind, and possessing a
share of the divine. And so none of them can hurt me. No one
can implicate me in ugliness. Nor can I feel angry at my
relative, or hate him. We were born to work together like
feet, hands, and eyes, like the two rows of teeth, upper and
lower. To obstruct each other is unnatural. To feel anger at
someone, to turn your back on him: these are obstructions

Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

If we can accept that we have also been unjust with others, unfair with others and we have acted incorrectly to others, then we can see that wrongdoer is not different from ourselves. Yes, their acts can be conceived as worst that what we have done, but still, there is a small difference between our acts. If we grasp this knowledge, then we can move forward in what is my Marcus Aurelius favorite quote: Waste no more time arguing what a good man should be. Be one.

When I see my world through amor fati, I understand that I wouldn’t be a coach if I haven’t experienced my life in the way that I had. The same for my craft, my writing, poetry and view of the world. This reframing is part of resilience and Nietzche gives us the perfect way to own our story.

A will to live without rejecting anything of life, which is the virtue I honor most in this world. Albert Camus

Brene Brown helped me grasp this concept in the Power of Vulnerability, when she insists that we should own our story. That we can learn from what happened to us. That we can shed light in our past. That we can love it and through love we can help others go through their own problems.

Amor fati helped me deal with the fact that we shouldn’t strive for perfection, we should strive for humanity. Other cannot learn from a perfect person, they can learn from our own battles, our scars, our mistakes. By owning this part of our lives, we can tell others how we fought against our struggles. (For example, the black dogs as Churchill named his depression)

In conclusion, love your fate. Even if you are in a prison like Mandela and Malcolm X, even if you are going through depression like Churchill or Lincoln, even if you are going through a rough episode, believe that there is greatness in what is happening and that although it might not be the ideal scenario, we can convert it into a life changing episode.

5 Recommendations of biographies or related books

For this reason, one of my recommendations is to read biographies. They help us understand that we all struggle, that we all have doubts, that there are episodes that seem unsurvivable but through hard work, love and community we can rise. My recommendation of biographies or book related to biographies are as follow:

  • First Rate Madness: An amazing book that gives us the insight into the psychological aspects of the leaders that we admired. This book allowed me to understand that there is struggle in everyone.
  • Personal History: This book about Katherine Graham is a book that tells the story of how to overcome obstacles in one of the most difficult times in US Politics. The capacity of knowing your values and how to overcome fears are embedded in this book.
  • Endurance: An amazing book that narrates the capacity of leadership when all is lost.
  • Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World: Genghis Khan for me had a lot of misconceptions. This book helped me learn an insight into the life of a complex character in our history.
  • The Inner Citadel: Written by my favorite philosophy scholar, this book is amazing. A tough read since Hadot has a capacity of deepening the soul in one sentence. A must read.

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