Pura vida! It’s a phrase you hear everywhere in Costa Rica. How are you doing? “Pura vida.” Thank you very much. “Pura vida.” See you tomorrow. “Pure vida.” In English, the translation is “pure life”, however these two words have much more meaning throughout Costa Rican culture which I’ve come to appreciate over the past 8 days. It means that no matter how bad off things seem, someone else has it worse and life is short so start living it “Pura vida style”.
While I’ve only been here a short while, I’ve come to appreciate and embrace their way of life. As I write this, I’m sitting in a serene courtyard sipping a smoothie, having just finished a yoga class. My mind is more clear and I feel more relaxed than I have in a long time. Although in less than 24 hours I’ll be back at my desk in NYC grinding away at my 700+ unread emails, there are a number of Costa Rican principles that will stick with me as I continually seek to improve my peace of mind, health, and quality of work.
Sustainability is a way of life: I’ve stayed at 3 different resorts throughout my trip and I’ve been amazed by the sustainable principles that persist, not because they seek LEED certification, but because it’s engrained in their way of life. Each hotel encourages guests to reuse towels, they provide reusable water bottles, and require guests to use keys to turn on their lights (if they had electricity at all!). We spent the first portion of our trip at an eco lodge called Pacuare Lodge that could only be accessed via white water rafting. The bungalows we stayed in were built using lumber from a reforestation project run by local farmers, the water is solar heated and the soaps are biodegradable, they have a bio-digester that produces gas from from organic waste, and they have reintroduced howler monkeys to the area which were wiped out by indigenous hunters years ago. See their commitment to sustainability here, it’s an amazing place. To them it’s not unique, it’s their responsibility.
Disconnecting is one of the most valuable things you can do to improve your quality of work: Over the course of this trip I’ve been forced to disconnect, in part as a mandate by my new wife and in part because we haven’t had electricity let alone wifi throughout the trip. Everyone touts the importance of disconnecting, but few are able to do so in our hyper-connected world. For the first time I can confidently say I fully disconnected and in doing so I feel more refreshed, creative, and eager to tackle all challenges that lie ahead. It’s incredibly powerful and something we should do a few times each year.
Yoga and Meditation is a way of life: I spent the last 3 days of my trip at the Harmony Hotel, “a place for community and ideas—an ideal space for contemplation and deep relaxation (pulled from their website).” The resort offers free yoga and meditation and promotes wellness and peace of mind. After practicing it for the past few days it’s no surprise that people such as hedge fund billionaire Ray Dalio have called meditation the most important reason for his success. Prior to leaving for my wedding, I was using the app Calm to begin meditating. I’m going to pick it up again when I return.
After immersing myself in the local culture I wasn’t surprised to learn that Costa Ricans have the highest life expectancy and are 1,000% more likely to live to 100 than Americans. So when things seem tough, you’re working long hours, or something doesn’t go your way, just remember…Pura Vida.