amor fati

221 – Accept Life

Accept Life
Life is ridiculous and strange!

Over the last few weeks I’ve talked about self acceptance and acceptance of others and today I want to talk about acceptance of life, or Amor Fati.

Be content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.

— Lao Tzu

What does it mean to accept fate?

It means that we learn to be at the very least accepting of every thing that life brings our way. We don’t have to love it, but we need to accept it.

Why is it so hard to accept fate? Why do we resist so much?

We want to have control over our lives. We have expectations that life should be a certain way. That people should act a certain way. We want things to just be the way that we want. There is so little that we have actual control over: our thinking, our judgements, and actions and choices. If we are constantly complaining about or wishing that things would be different than they are, then we are wasting energy on things we can’t control. Then we spend our lives feeling resentful over things that we don’t have control over. We’re constantly unhappy that life doesn’t measure up to our expectations.

Why should we accept life fate?

To do otherwise is actually foolish because it’s simply denying reality.

To complain is always nonacceptance of what is.

— Eckhart Tolle

You never know what life is going to bring your way. You may think that you want your life to be a certain way, but end up somewhere far different. Maybe that broken heart today is what leads you to a healthier relationship in the future.

Zeno, the founder of stoicism was in a shipwreck where he lost all of his cargo for his business. It ruined him financially, but it was through that loss that he came across the teachings of Socrates and other philosophers and eventually went on to found stoicism.

I made a prosperous voyage when I was shipwrecked.

-Zeno of Citium

We are also able to stay more present because we are less worried about what will happen in the future because we recognize how little control we have over the outcome.

We can focus on the process of whatever we’re doing, and let the outcome be what it will be.

When we let go of that we can just deal with life exactly as it is. We can be curious and excited to see what happens next.

Is acceptance the same as acquiescence?

No. Acceptance is just acknowledging reality.

It does not mean that we simply throw our hands up in the air and do nothing.

It means that we accept reality for what it is, then we look at what choices we have in the circumstances that we find ourselves in.

How can we learn to love fate?

At the very least, leant to accept. This helps free your mind from worry about things you can’t control.

Accept how little control we have over every thing.

Develop gratitude that life is exactly the way that it is supposed to be.

Embrace what life sends your way. Someone breaks your heart, now you have a chance to take what you learned into the next relationship. If your house burns down, you now have a chance to downsize and start over fresh.

How ridiculous and how strange to be surprised at anything which happens in life.

— Marcus Aurelius

Think back on past things that may have been painful and find ways to accept those. We often feel regret over things that happened in the past and have a hard time letting go of feelings even though we can no longer change them. We can look back at those regrets and see that those regrets help shape us. Regret reminds us of choices we made that led to an outcome we were unsatisfied with. It’s a reminder to think longer and make different choices when faced with something similar in the future.

Once I grasped this whole concept acceptance, a quote by Epictetus that had long perplexed me started to make sense:

“An ignorant person is inclined to blame others for his own misfortune. To blame oneself is proof of progress. But the wise man never has to blame another or himself.”

– Epictetus

When we just accept that things are going to happen as they will, we worry less about mistakes and blame. Mistakes, as they are generally thought of, are really just missed expectations. We recognize we can't control the outcome of anything, only the effort that we put into the process. The outcome will be what it will be. Blaming someone else or ourselves is to blame someone for missed expectations, for what we thought it should be, rather than accepting and dealing with things as they are.

Challenges Circumstances Coffee Break stoicism

140 – Circumstances Don’t Make The Man

Circumstances Don’t Make The Man


“Circumstances don’t make the man, they only reveal him to himself.”

– Epictetus

How do we deal with difficulties? Do we see them as challenges or opportunities? As something that is to be suffered through, or something that teaches us who we are? In today’s episode, we’re going to talk about difficult circumstances and how they are the things we should be most grateful for.

Show Notes:

What does that mean? Aren’t tough challenges supposed to make us stronger?
The stoics remind us that circumstances in and of themselves are neutral. They are not good or bad unless we label it so. It’s our thinking about a situation that makes it a problem – or an opportunity.
The same thing can happen to two different people and one person may see it as an intractable problem, something to complain about or run and hide from. The other can see it as an opportunity to learn and grow, and they dig in and push through.

It’s often hard to prepare for challenges because we get comfortable when things are going well. We like it when things are easy. Professional and personal failures, divorce, even death rarely come at opportune moments. More often than not, they come unexpectedly out of the blue, when we feel least ready.

The author Elizabeth Day in this month’s Guardian wrote a great piece on failure [1]. Reflecting on what she thought of as the greatest failures in her life, she said, “I realised that the biggest, most transformative moments of my life came through crisis or failure. They came when I least expected them, when I felt ill-equipped to deal with the fallout. And yet each time, I had survived.”

Sometimes, we come out the other side not feeling like a champ. We may just survive it. And that’s okay.

Challenges also have a way of humbling us and knocking down our egos.
Our view of who we thought we were can change when seen through the filter of life’s challenges. We can be so wrapped up in something outside of ourselves, that when then identity is threatened, it can be exceptionally scary.

Challenges can change us into a totally new person. Day goes on to say, “Life crises have a way of doing that: they strip you of your old certainties and throw you into chaos. The only way to survive is to surrender to the process. When you emerge, blinking into the light, you have to rebuild what you thought you knew about yourself.”

If we link our identity too strongly to our jobs and suddenly find ourselves unemployed, the blow to our self-image can be devastating. We can give our heart and soul to a relationship only have it end bitterly and leaving us feeling jaded. We can work for years on a creative endeavor only to meet rejection and failure and question whether it was worth our time and energy.

But it through these transitions that we are able to let go of that old version of us, and become who we are meant to be.

It’s not easy to shift your mindset to view challenges as opportunities.
It takes practice to change our instinctual reaction.
It can be difficult to sit with the uncomfortable emotions such as fear and doubt that our thinking brings up. And this is where learning how to view a challenge differently helps. We are able to see how this thing is helping us, rather than looking at it as something to fear.
Maybe it’s giving us an opportunity to learn a new skill.
Maybe it’s giving us an opportunity to grow stronger in an area we shied away from before.
Maybe it’s an opportunity to start something new.
Many startups happen because someone ran into a challenge and looking around they either didn’t find a solution or didn’t like the existing ones, so they created their own solution.

Have you ever been on the beach and picked up a smooth stone? Have you ever thought about how it got so smooth? That stone in your hand started off as a hunk of stone, with sharp edges and rough patches all over. As the waves wash the stone up on shore it bangs up against other stones, sand, and stone walls up on the shore. And as it comes in contact with these, the sharp edges become rounded, the rough patches begin to be smoothed out.

Life is going to throw stuff as whether we like it or not. We can learn to marvel at the changes and embrace the hard things that help us grow into someone new. We can learn to let go of holding to who we are and be excited for who we’re becoming. We can learn, as the stoics ask us, to love our fate.

Help create this podcast.

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Challenges Circumstances Coffee Break Fate stoicism

132 – Anything Can Happen

Anything Can Happen


“How ridiculous and unrealistic is the man who is astonished at anything that happens in life.”

― Marcus Aurelius, Meditations Book 12

Show Notes:

– How often do we think that something in life shouldn’t happen to us?
– As if we are somehow immune to the things that happen to anyone else in life.
– How often do we think that we are owed something?
– As if we are somehow privileged above others, that we deserve something
– We may think it’s unfair when something we worked hard for fails to materialize.
– We may think it’s unfair that someone we love gets cancer, that they didn’t deserve it.
– We may think we deserve a perfect partner because go to the gym workout and wear nice clothes.
– The world is full of all kinds of stories about people getting hit with the unexpected and didn’t get what they wanted.
– Who determines what is fair and unfair?
– So much in our lives that is simply up to chance, where we have no control over it.
– We never deserve anything.
– Now this doesn’t mean that all is lost.
– Let go of trying to control the things that we can’t control, and focus on what we can.
– We cannot control the circumstances that happen to us.
– We cannot control the outcome.
– What we can control is how we respond to the things that happen to us.
– If we are diagnosed with an serious illness, we can’t control that it happened to us.
– We can’t control whether we’ll recover from it.
– If we follow the prescriptions of our doctor, we increase our probability of a positive outcome.
– We may not get the job we think we deserve. But we can increase the probability that we’ll get a good job if we put the work in.
– We can also choose our attitude towards towards our situation. We can be angry, we can be sad, we can react in many different ways.
– We’re going to have deal with it anyway, so if we can approach it in the most helpful way we can, we reduce our overall suffering.
– I think that most suffering in the world happens when we try to control the things that we can’t and fail to control what we can.
– Life is full of surprises, but it shouldn’t be.

Photo by Ben Rosett on Unsplash

Challenges Coffee Break Control Fate

120 – Are You Lucky?

Are You Lucky?

“Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.”

― Seneca

Show Notes:

– Are you a lucky person?
– The Stoics understood that most things in life are out of our control.
– The reason that they stress that ideas so much, that we try so hard to control things around us.
– Trying to control things outside yourself causes yourself and others a lot of suffering.
– Other people, events, and circumstances are certainly outside of our control.
– So much of our life is simply up to chance.
– The people we meet and become friends with and fall in love with.
– The jobs that we get because of being the right place at the right time.
– So many things that just happened by chance, and all of them outside of our control.
– In the Drunkard’s Walk, a book about the role of randomness and chance in our lives, Leonard Mlodinow, after showing example after example about how poorly we as humans misjudge the role of chance in our lives goes on to say, “…ability does not guarantee achievement, nor is achievement proportional to ability. And so it is important to always keep in mind the other term in the equation—the role of chance…What I’ve learned, above all, is to keep marching forward because the best news is that since chance does play a role, one important factor in success is under our control: the number of at bats, the number of chances taken, the number of opportunities seized.”
– If we want to meet a great partner it’s not going to happen if we stay at home playing video games or watching Netflix. We need to go on a lot of dates. We need to be able to carry on a conversation.
– If we want to be a musician or an actor, but we never practice, even if we hustle to get a coveted gig, if we aren’t prepared and we don’t have the skill to pull it off, then we’ve wasted an opportunity.
– I find that there is a lot of dedication on the internet for shortcuts to success. As if success is a bunch of hacks that you can do so you don’t have to put actual work in. But the thing is, taking shortcuts can cheat us of the opportunities for growth. We should become masters of our craft, not only because it prepares us to take those opportunities, but mastering our craft is part of the journey, it makes us who we are.
– And the more we become masters of our craft, the less we need “shortcuts”.
– We also need to be careful to never think think that we “deserve” something.
-Sometimes we think we are entitled to a certain way of life because who we are.
– Entitled to a certain job because of where we went to school.
– We are never entitled to anything.
– As Steven Pressfield said about creative endeavors, “We are entitled to our labors, but not the fruits of our labors.” Meaning we entitled to work our butts off and but we may still never find the success we think we deserve.
– As much as we all want a lucky silver bullet, because luck/chance/fate are all outside of our control, what we can control is consistently putting in the work.
– Fortune favors the bold, but she also favors the prepared.

Photo by Sergi Viladesau on Unsplash

Coffee Break Love

103 – With All Your Heart

With All Your Heart

“Accept the things to which fate binds you, and love the people with whom fate brings you together, but do so with all your heart.”

― Marcus Aurelius


Photo by Brittney Burnett on Unsplash