Accept the Things to which Fate Binds You

“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

There are 3 distinct principles of happiness in this quote by the philosopher-king, Marcus Aurelius. Let’s break it down principle by principle:

Principle #1: Accept the things to which Fate Binds you

I’m not a believer in the literalness of fate. I believe we largely shape our own destinies, based on the daily choices we make which, together, are largely responsible for creating the circumstances and opportunities we either take advantage of or fail to. And yet there is wisdom in the principle contained in that statement nonetheless.

It reminds me of the serenity prayer of Alcoholic’s Anonymous:

“God, Give us the grace to accept with serenity
the things that cannot be changed, Courage
to change the things which should be changed,
And the wisdom to distinguish the one from the other.”

Oh, to accept with grace the things we cannot change!

You can spin you’re wheels day in and day out complaining about what you don’t have, or you can spend the same hours in the same days grateful for what you do have.

Or, better yet, make plans, set goals, work smart and hard for what you want while enjoying what you have, however little that may be, feeling blessed and grateful for having anything at all!

After all, no amount of whining and moaning over life ever changed any aspect of it for the better. Action changes life, not passive complaints about its unfairness. So why not enjoy what you have while taking action to improve it?

That, it seems to me, is a happier alternative.

Principle #2: Love the Ones with whom Fate brings you together

This one reminds me of an old Crosby, Stills, and Nash song titled, Love the One you’re with.

Did you make the perfect choice in picking the spouse you’re now stuck with? Frankly, it seems to me that it doesn’t really matter.

Assuming no criminal or abusive behavior, love the one with whom fate brings you together! Love the one you’re with!

Grass will always be greener where you can’t see the dirty underwear, hear the burps, grunts and other bodily noises, and where you don’t have disputes over children, chores and bills.

But guess what! As soon as you’re on the other side and the underwear is piling up on the bathroom floor, the bodily grunts start popping off and the toothpaste gets squeezed at the wrong place over and over and over again, guess where you’ll be looking once more!

You’ll very likely be looking right over the top of someone else’s fence at yet another yard of even greener grass! So just learn to love the one you’re with!

I’m convinced that in most cases, the root problem is less in the quality of the grass on your side of the fence and more a condition of the perception of the person comparing lawns. It’s a problem of thought and of attitude, more than a problem of burps, underwear or “yellowing grass.”

So, is there a personality conflict between you and the ridiculous jerk in the cubicle next to you at work?

Love the one with whom fate brings you together!

But he started the conflict, you say? Love him anyway! But he’s unlovable? So what! Love him anyway! I’m not advocating you love unreasonable people because they deserve your love.

You show love because you are loving. Once that becomes your motivation, others’ personalities and character will hardly matter. They will no longer have the power to disturb your happiness.

If, on the other hand, you are not very loving, as it turns out, learn to love the one you’re with! Your happiness depends on it!

Principle #3: Do so with all of your Heart

Throw yourself into what you do. Have passion for what you do. You’re going to be doing it anyway, so why not do it with gusto?

Hate your job? Become the very best in the company, in the district or on the planet. You’ll hate it less … and just may start to love it!

Hate your spouse? Become the very best spouse the world has ever produced. Can you guess what will likely happen to your hate?

Hate cleaning your house? Clean it better than anyone could possibly clean it. Then look at it. Admire it. Enjoy it. And see how your hatred softens.

… and how your happiness grows.


In the end, and in large measure, your happiness will depend on your ability and willingness to “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.”

Not bad advice for a dead Roman emperor who lived some 820 years ago!

Do You Have a Favorite Quote from a Roman or Greek Philosopher?

  • Who’s the philosopher?
  • What’s the quote?
  • What does it mean to you?
  • How can it be applied to life to increase happiness?
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