Finding Meaning in Fitness Through Philosophy Part II: Nietzsche on the Eternal Recurrence Love and embrace all moments

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What, if some day or night a demon were to steal after you into your loneliest loneliness and say to you:

“This life as you now live it and have lived it, you will have to live once more and innumerable times more; and there will be nothing new in it, but every pain and every joy and every thought and sigh and everything unutterably small or great in your life will have to return to you, all in the same succession and sequence”…

Would you not throw yourself down and gnash your teeth and curse the demon who spoke thus? Or have you once experienced a tremendous moment when you would have answered him: “You are a god and never have I heard anything more divine.”

Nietzsche’s myth of the eternal recurrence poses a profound question about the essence of our lives—a thought experiment of sorts. The main idea is this: do you love your life and all its moments enough to repeat it over again endlessly? While this prompt invites us to reflect on our lives as a whole, we can also apply it to our fitness journeys in a few of the following ways:

  1. Embrace dualities

If there were no hard days, we wouldn’t appreciate the good days. If a race or athletic challenge didn’t push us beyond what we thought physically possible, we wouldn’t derive that same sense of satisfaction or joy from the experience. Binaries exist for a reason—learn to appreciate the contrasts to enrich our experiences in fitness.

2. Cultivate mental toughness.

While the good moments in a race keep us coming back, it’s the moments of struggle—the dark places where we contemplate dropping out or feel as if we can’t make it one more mile—that builds resilience. The same principle applies for our regular workouts; the days where we don’t feel like it and the resistance is strong, but we get ourselves out the door to get it done anyways—those are the moments that present opportunities for self-growth—helping us develop the mental fortitude essential for sustainability in our endeavours over the long term. 

Nietzsche urges us to see each and every aspect of our lives as beautiful and meaningful in the grand tapestry of our existence. Applying this philosophical idea to our fitness journeys, we can learn to appreciate the entirety of our experiences—the good and the bad, the joy and the suffering. Nietzsche reminds us that true meaning lies in loving and embracing all the moments— not just the positive ones. Amor Fati

Source citations/notes

†1: Book Four The Gay Science, Frederich Nietzsche
†2: Love of Faith

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