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Experiencing the benefits of Pura Vida

Updated: Jul 25, 2022

Pura vida, or “pure life,” is a commonly heard expression throughout Costa Rica. It refers to an appreciative and tranquil way of living; one that does not involve traditional time frames or material excess. If you’re fortunate enough to ever have visited Costa Rica, you are likely familiar with the term and understand that it’s actual definition is extremely broad, meaning everything from “yes” to “no, thank you.” The words have a similar but different meaning across the conversational spectrum, largely dependent on the topic at hand. For example, you can say “pura vida” as a way of saying “hello, how are you.” Or, you an say “pura vida” when telling someone “no thank you, I’m not interested.” In other words, there is not one, concrete definition that can encompass pura vida. Instead of attempting to translate the words directly into their English counterpart, I’ve found it much easier to understand pura vida for what it is; a guide to living.

Conceptually, it’s important to understand a very basic concept in order to be aligned with pura vida. And that is this:

There is nowhere more important than where you are right now, and there is nothing more important than what you are doing at this very moment.

It’s that simple. Anytime you are feeling stressed, or anxious, or upset that some future event has not yet occurred exactly as you see it happening.. realize that feeling stressed about events outside of your current reality is an exercise in futility. Relax! Feeling worried or stressed will not change or prevent the future from unfolding as it will, and you most certainly don’t know exactly how this will look. Worrying about problems, especially problems that have never occurred, will simply stress you out and cause an anxious state in which your physical and mental health suffer. Instead, take a deep breath and realize that the problem will be resolved regardless of how stressed and worried you become in this moment.

“We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them."

-Albert Einstein

Along with relaxing and avoiding stressful situation, it’s also very important to lean into the ‘good’ feelings. It’s okay to feel good, and guilt should never be an anchor weighing down the positive side of life. Be thankful for everyone and everything that nature has placed in your path and realize that we are extremely fortunate to live in an amazingly abundant world. In this world, happiness and communication are very important, scientifically proven factors that increase both length and quality of life. Oxytocin has been referred to as the “love” molecule, given its natural propensity to increase joy in one’s life. Not only is oxytocin a naturally existing molecule that improves quality of life, it’s contagious! That means when one person’s oxytocin levels increase, levels will also increase in that person’s inner circle (Ex. Family, room mates, co-workers, etc.). So spread the love!

“Happiness is not something readymade. It comes from your own actions.”

-Dalai Lama

Going with the flow, and allowing for adaptability in life, is another important factor in finding pura vida. If change is constant, which it most definitely is, then having a lifestyle that adapts with the change only makes sense. So how do you make life more adaptable? To begin, lean into the ‘good’ feelings.. the ones that yield the highest personal benefit. If something or someone does not bring you satisfaction in life, then simply move on. It sounds simplistic, however, this advice is important to practice as well as preach. Don’t just say you’ll move on, but do it! Feel the flow of a lifestyle supportive of your personal beliefs and feelings and lean into it. When you go with the flow and don’t focus on the specifics, you allow for a whole new level of growth.

Unless you’ve spent the last few years practicing the pura vida lifestyle, you’ll find that some of these steps require an adjustment period. And that’s perfectly fine! Learning to lead an adaptable and carefree lifestyle actually does take some getting used to. Relaxation is often easier said than done, and implementing this level of change into your life will not likely occur over night. So don’t stress! Just realize that you are in complete control of your life and that you get to choose where to focus your attention. Pura vida!

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