Reading Length: 5 minutes
1. Live by “Amor Fati.”
This means detaching from the outcome and simply loving the present moment. When we desire a certain outcome, we develop aversion and will face disappointment. Therefore, we need to remove the desire for that outcome. We need to also accept that whatever happens in life, we will accept and embrace both the present and future. We cannot resist change because change is permanent. From Einzelgänger, some ways to live by “Amor Fati” are:
- 1. Purposefully expose yourself to the thing you averse.
An example is poverty. Most people fear this but if we purposefully expose ourselves to this then we may realize it isn’t as bad as we thought. The same goes with our other fears.
- 2. See change as opportunity.
We often fear losing our jobs and our money. Rather than resisting change, we need to adapt and accept whatever happens. We also can take advantage of the change by growing and learning from the opportunity. I was laid off from my previous job which initially gave me feelings of disappointment and frustration. But if it were not for that, I wouldn’t have followed my true passions by creating this blog and my YouTube channel. So it was actually an opportunity disguised as a problem.
- 3. Realize that happiness is relative.
A study conducted of lottery winners and paralysis survivors to measure happiness showed that they were actually equally happy. This proves that happiness can happen if you choose to be happy regardless of what happens to you.
- 4. Be present.
The future is not good and not bad. So just accept it as it is and enjoy the present moment. You never know what you can miss out on if you’re not present.
2. Focus on what you can control.
Too often we worry about external things that are beyond our control. Instead, we should focus on things in our control. We first need to differentiate the two. From Geoff Chen, blogger of The Stoic Sage:
- Things that are within your control:
- your opinions
- your goals
- your desires
- your actions
- your reaction to events
- Things that are outside of your control:
- the outcome of an event
- your health
- your wealth
- your reputation
- the past
The key is to only focus on things within your control. Detach from the externals. Therefore, if there is an existing problem in your life, think of whether or not you can take action on it. If not, then there’s just no point in worrying about it. You’re only prolonging your misery by dwelling on something out of your control.
I’m personally trying to distance myself from the externals by only focusing on my actions. It’s definitely not easy but I’m constantly trying to remind myself of this. Here is a diagram I structured for myself:
3. Think of death.
Thinking about death can definitely be a scary and depressing thought. However, we can use this to our advantage as well with the practice of “Memento Mori.” This is when you think about your own mortality which encourages you to truly prioritize the things that matter to you. Why wait to do something meaningful to you when life could just end at any given moment? We need to embrace the time we have and make the most out of it. Remind yourself everyday of the shortness of life and stop pushing off meaningful things.
4. Aim for the highest good.
The highest good is virtue. Unlike pleasure, virtue is long lasting. It is how we can live happy lives. Everything else comes after virtue which are: Happiness, success, meaning, reputation, honor, love. According to The Daily Stoic, the four virtues are:
- Wisdom. It is being able to differentiate between good and evil. It is knowing when to be indifferent, what to choose and what to beware of. It is taking what we learned and applying it to the real world.
- Temperance. This is the knowledge that abundance comes from having what is essential. Self-control is needed to curb impulses and desires. Excess desires lead to discontentment.
- Courage. It is being able to face misfortune, death, risks, holding your own principles, speaking your mind and pursuing the truth.
- Justice. This is the bond of human society and community. An example is to do no harm to others.
5. Review your day.
Prepare in the morning and review your progress in the evening. To do this, you can journal by answering a set of reflection questions. This helps you figure out what actions need to be taken next in order to address the problems or improve yourself. This also promotes more mindfulness. According to the “Daily Stoic” by Ryan Holiday, review yourself by asking:
- What am I lacking?
- What is demanded of me?
- What did I fail to do?
- What bad habit did I curb?
- How am I better?
- How can I improve?
To go even further, I’ve picked three qualities which I would like to promote more in my life. After answering the questions above, I answer the following:
- What did you do to work on…
- Compassion and empathy
In one of my journal logs, for courage, I wrote that I set up a phone call with a best-selling author. For patience, I wrote that I waited in the traffic for a whole hour without getting irritated. And lastly, for compassion and empathy, I wrote that I comforted someone on the phone. Of course, there are many days when I did not make progress on those qualities. But these reflections help me become more conscious of my actions and serve as a constant reminder to keep improving myself.
- 1. Live by “Amor Fati.” Purposefully expose yourself to the thing you averse. See change as opportunity. Realize that happiness is relative. Be present. Detach from the outcome, love the present moment and accept whatever happens in the future.
- 2. Focus on what you can control. We focus and worry about the externals that are beyond our control. We need to only focus on things within our control. We need to differentiate the two. Refer back above to see examples.
- 3. Think of death. Think of your own mortality and prioritize the meaningful things. Life is too short so stop pushing off what matters most to you.
- 4. Aim for the highest good. The highest good is virtue. It is above happiness, success, meaning, reputation, honor and love. The four virtues are wisdom, temperance, courage, and justice.
- 5. Review your day. Review your progress by answering a set of reflection questions. Refer back to see examples of those questions.
Amor Fati | Stoic Exercises For Inner Peace by Einzelgänger
A Stoic Guide on the Dichotomy of Control and Happiness by Geoff Chen
The Highest Good: An Introduction To The 4 Stoic Virtues by The Daily Stoic