Amor Fati – Let Us Love Our Life the Way It Is

Very often when life throws a challenge at us or we are faced with an unexpected deterrent in our life, we get perturbed or worse paralyzed. The fear sets in, and it might be so intense that one can experience physical pain as well. All of us react differently to problems. Our reactions are not just due to the problem, rather they are based on a multitude of things, our past experiences, our childhood upbringing, our present support system, or a lack of it, and last, but not least, our health. All these cumulative things determine how we face the problem that we have. The important aspect is whether we Act or React to a situation?

The first thing to understand is that we need not be harsh on ourselves when faced with something unexpected. Only by understanding the problem and acknowledging the fact that we may need some help to overcome it can we win it. The other thing to keep in mind is no problem is unconquerable, it may be difficult, may even seem daunting but it is not impossible to face. Often how we perceive a problem to be determines the outcome. By making a problem bigger than it is or by thinking that one is incapable of dealing with the problem, one has already lost the battle. In the words of Marcus Aurelius, 'Choose not to be harmed – and you won’t feel harmed. Don’t feel harmed – and you haven’t been.'

If we look at a problem from the lens of the stoics, they give a lot of emphasis on Perspective. By Perspective they mean to break a problem into smaller components, looking at each component separately, sometimes from different angles, thereby making the problem lose its hold over you. But it isn’t that easy, sometimes your perspective is what is making the problem big. The more appropriate way is to expand your perspective so that it steadies your nerves and gives you context into the problem. The right perspective will lead to the right direction and that is half the battle won.

History is full of incidents and people who when faced with insurmountable problem, put their faith in themselves, became resilient and ultimately were victorious. Be it Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Amelia Earhart or Theodore Roosevelt, they all had indomitable spirits. Sometimes instead of going heads on against a problem, we must find a way around it. Conserving our energy and resources might be more important to overcome some problems. With will power and fortitude we can plan our approach and be assured that the problem will be overcome.

The great German Philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche had described a formula for human greatness as amor fati—a love of fate. “That one wants nothing to be different, not forward, not backwards, not in all eternity. Not merely bear what is necessary, still less conceal it…. but love it.” The final step and the most crucial in overcoming any problem is ACCEPTANCE. Sometimes things are extremely bad and there are irreparable damages done. What to do then, one might ask? The trick is to accept the event in totality. We must learn to love all that has happened, the good, the bad and the ugly. When you cannot change what has happened, why not put a smile on your face and go about doing what is needed.

Amor Fati by no means is about accepting problems as acts of destiny or curse of the Gods. It is about being pragmatic and being cheerful. Love for all that has happened is the mindset which will make you turn the problem around to your advantage. Yes, a problem can be turned into an opportunity or an advantage. The Covid pandemic taught us that. There are many stories of startups or business ventures started when people thought out of the box and converted an unprecedented situation into an opportunity.

Sometimes we don’t have a choice but to face the problem. If that is the case why not have Amor Fati as your response, love your fate. It’s difficult or impossible to be happy about a problem, if that’s the case go one step ahead, be in GRATITUDE. Yes, it may sound crazy. How to be grateful for the things that you never wanted in your life? These very adversities, when handled correctly will become the stepping stones for your success. Gratitude towards your problems will give you the strength to persevere when all hope is lost. As a cancer survivor I know puts it, ‘my cancer made me stronger, it made me a better person, it made me more humane’. Similarly, thank your problems for making you strong.

Amor Fati, the key to living life fully, with conviction and with joy in the face of unfamiliar and unnerving situations. Loving your fate and turning it into the source of your strength.

by Dr Shweta Jaiswal

Dr Shweta Jaiswal is a senior Healthcare Professional with over 18 years of experience as an Anaesthetist & Intensivist. She has worked across India in various tertiary care hospitals. Her field of expertise are Cardiac & Neuro Anaesthesia and Cardiac Critical Care & Transplant Critical Care. She has been instrumental in establishing E-ICU in two hospitals in Chhattisgarh. And has also worked with NABH & JCI Committees in several corporate hospitals. She did her MBA in Healthcare from ISB and is currently involved in Research in the field of Healthcare at ISB.