Per Aspera Ad Astra - The Best Way Out Is Through

Posted by Molly Frazier on

Origins & Etymology

There are many inspiring mottos and phrases in Latin, but one of our favorites at MSCo is per aspera ad astra. We use memento mori as the driving force behind our daily mindset to motivate us to live intentionally, and per aspera ad astra takes that mentality just one step further. But before we explain, let’s get to know the phrase a little bit better.

Per aspera ad astra means “through hardship, to the stars.” No one knows exactly where the phrase per aspera ad astra originated, but credit is often given to Virgil who wrote about journeys to the stars in his Aeneid and to Seneca who discussed similar themes in Hercules. The motto sometimes appears as ad astra per aspera, or even as ad astra per ardua, and can be translated as “through adversity/struggle/difficulties to the stars.” The English word “arduous” draws its roots from the Latin ardua and the English word “exasperate” traces its origins back to the Latin aspera.

Through Hardship

Regardless of which version of the phrase you prefer, the motto addresses the value of persevering through hard times. The spirit of per aspera ad astra could be taken to mean “failure is training for success” in the same way that the spirit of memento mori could be translated as “make every moment count.” 

“Fail again. Fail better.” ~Samuel Beckett

Here at MSCo we strive to view every obstacle as an opportunity for growth. We want to have an intentional mindset when facing inevitable challenges, and we know we could get dragged down by frustration and defeat without that perspective. Perseverance is such an admirable quality because it can be so difficult to maintain in the face of life’s struggles. 

However, experiencing adversity is an inescapable part of existence, no matter which path you choose to take. That is why it is so important to confront the hardship head-on and work through it, instead of trying to avoid it and run into a different obstacle that you are even less prepared for. “Through” will always be a better path than “around” in the long run, as you will learn valuable skills and strengthen your mindset along the way.

To The Stars

Of course this brings up the question of how we qualify successfully conquering adversity. As mentioned above, you’ll experience hardship all throughout life and there is only one true end to the journey. It makes more sense for you to determine your own standard of success, instead of only counting the completion of life’s great race as a “win.” 

Do you want to aim high? Consider a multi-year plan. Alternatively, you could tackle your chosen challenge one piece at a time. Either goal is valid, and as the old saying goes, “every journey begins with a single step.” Regardless of your aspiration’s scale, you’ll be making progress every day that you intentionally face down difficulties and persevere through them. 

No matter what your pace may be, just keep going… the stars are waiting just on the other side.

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