The Highway Hospice welcomes, respects and facilitates all religions. We also recognise and respect individual perspectives, thoughts and philosophies. Before religion, there was a focus on philosophy and we have found some strong similarities with the Stoic philosophers’ views. They worked predominantly around three principles:
- People are not disturbed by what happens to them, but rather how they respond to the events. (Amor Fati)
- People can only control our thoughts, beliefs, perceptions and actions. Everything else is out of our control. (Dichotomy of Control)
- Through remembering our final fate (as death), life in it’s time should be relished (Momento Mori)
Philosophy as a rule is not summarized, but for this purpose we would like to dig into the veins of the thoughts. These, as mentioned above hold strong congruence with the work of a Hospice. Below are some more detail on the three principles, we would like to know which of them strikes a cord with you?
Dichotomy of Control
“focus on what you can change, ignore the rest” suggestion to focus on the internal locus of control. This concept is so powerful, and ageless that it has become the core of most modern self-help movements. The thought has grown from the Stoic inception that wasting time, energy and focus on things you cannot influence makes little sense. The obvious is then that energy, time and effort on understanding and developing the “self” is the priority. Within your power are opinions, goals, desires, actions and reactions to events and so forth.
Most of us have seen the summary of the concept in Reinhold Neibuhr’s “Serenity Prayer:”
“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
courage to change the things I can,
and wisdom to know the difference.”
Is it not only by imagining not being alive, that you can properly prioritize everything you are doing while being alive. If one is constantly conscious of life as a gift, and our mortality as a given; we should logically maximise the former while able.
All questions regarding our own death remain questions until the time. We can however contemplate, influence and bring to action immeasurable things on a daily basis. Marcus Aurelius puts it this way:
“You could leave life right now. Let that determine what you do, and say and think.”
Amor fati is a Latin phrase translated as “love of fate” or “love of one’s fate”. An attitude in which one sees everything that happens in one’s life, including suffering and loss, as good or, at the very least, necessary.
More than accepting that which is out of our control, but “loving” what is delivered by fate. The challenge is usually to be found in the forms of suffering and loss delivered, as “good” fate is easy enough to embrace. Philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche proposes that we should view positive and negative as inextricably linked, and generalise Amor Fati to all fate. In his book “The Gay Science” he says:
“Only great pain is the ultimate liberator of the spirit….I doubt that such pain makes us ‘better’; but I know that it makes us more profound.”
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