If Memento Mori is there to remind us of how little time we have, how temporary our existence can be—then what do we have to remind us of how powerful we can be, what we can draw on even in the face of events completely outside our control? It’s another Latin phrase embodied and practiced by the Stoics: Amor Fati or “a love of fate.”
Friedrich Nietzsche said that amor fati was his formula for greatness: “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.” Marcus Aurelius would say: “A blazing fire makes flame and brightness out of everything that is thrown into it.” And it would be the great Robert Greene (48 Laws of Power, Mastery) who would make the connection between these brilliant ideas. Robert describes Amor Fati as a power “so immense that it’s almost hard to fathom. You feel that everything happens for a purpose, and that it is up to you to make this purpose something positive and active.”
Which is why the Daily Stoic, in collaboration with Robert, created our amor fati medallion. 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.
The flame on the front is inspired by Marcus Aurelius’s timeless wisdom: “a blazing fire makes flame and brightness out of everything that is thrown into it.”
The back features an excerpt from Nietzsche’s formula for greatness: “Not merely to bear what is necessary, still less conceal it….but love it.”
Like last time, this coin was designed by our team and manufactured by Wendell’s, a custom mint operating in Minnesota since 1882 and famously invented the anniversary coins for members of Alcoholics Anonymous. Just like those reminders of sobriety and our memento mori medallion, it is meant to be carried around and felt, a tangible piece of philosophy.
Amor Fati prompts us to say: We will put our energies and emotions and exertions only where they will have real impact. This is that place. We will tell ourselves: This is what I’ve got to do or put up with? Well, I might as well be happy about it.
The goal is:
Not: I’m okay with this.
Not: I think I feel good about this.
But: I feel great about it. Because if it happened, then it was meant to happen, and I am glad that it did when it did. I am going to make the best of it.
And proceed to do exactly that.
If the event must occur, amor fati is the response.
The coin’s purpose is to have a physical reminder of this—so that in every tough moment, every reversal, every time something goes unexpectedly, you can reach into your pocket and literally feel that etching of a flame. And know that it is a metaphor for you, for what you’re capable of, and why this is an opportunity for you to do your best, to respond cheerfully and virtuously.
Yes, it’s a little unnatural to love things we never wanted to happen in the first place. But what other, worse adversities might this one be saving us from? What might we learn from this unchosen experience? What good, equally unexpected events might result from it? We know that in retrospect we often look back at difficult times fondly, almost wistfully, so we might as well feel that now.
That is not to say that the good will always outweigh the bad. Still, embrace all of it. Don’t wish for it to be any different. You don’t have to like it to work with it—to use it to your advantage. Amor fati—a love of what happens. Because that’s your only option.