The Daily Stoic for November 1st, “Accepting What Is”.
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 flow well.—EPICTETUS, ENCHIRIDION, 8
One of the basic premises of Stoicism is what the stoics called “the art of acquitance“. In its simplest form, it implies accepting instead of fighting every little thing that happen to us.
However, today’s stoic meditation goes one step further, asking us to not just accept what happens, but to love it.
Accepting What Is
As I have mentioned previously, I never had a good opinion of philosophy or philosophers in general. Nietzsche was the only one who managed to make some sense to me in my teenage years. Thus, I did read all his books avidly, from “Thus spoke Zaratustra” to “The gay science”.
And while Nietzsche tends to be seen as moody, pessimistic and a nihilist author (“God is dead”), he also coined the term “amor fati” (“love of faith”), that reflects precisely that teaching from the stoics. Learning to love whatever happens, good or bad, as part of your life, something necessary to understand the whole concept, and helps you be what you actually are today.
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 itFriedrich Nietzsche, The Gay Science
To be honest, while I do think it’s a great concept in theory, and seems like a good idea, I find it hard to apply in practice. Maybe for the little things, it may be easy to apply: “Oh, look! I lost the bus and the next one won’t arrive here in less than an hour! Well, I think it’s a good chance to exercise these legs! (whistles joyfully while starts walking)”.
However, for serious things in life, I wonder whether it’s so easy. You know, for a severe or chronic illness, for the death of a family member, or your partner… I believe I would be able to get to the acquitance perhaps, but I honestly doubt I’ll be able to love it or see it as something “necessary” for me.
Perhaps time will prove me wrong…
Today’s Daily Stoic, “Accepting What Is”, discusses the concept later coined by Nietzsche as “amor fati“: not just accepting our fate, but loving it.