Anyone who has traveled to Costa Rica is familiar with the phrase “Pura Vida.” Used as a greeting and expression of happiness, Pura Vida simply translates to “pure life,” but means “full of life.” More than just a saying, Pura Vida is viewed as a way of life, and is the philosophy that we should live life to the fullest while taking care of our mind, body and soul. It is no wonder that Costa Ricans have been named some of the happiest people on the planet (Happiness Planet Index).
WHERE DOES ‘PURA VIDA’ COME FROM?
The ubiquitous phrase originates from a Mexican film titled ¡Pura vida! that aired in Costa Rica in 1956. In the film, the protagonist faces a wave of unfortunate circumstances, yet remains optimistic and utters “Pura Vida” after each challenge. The film was a major hit in Costa Rica and the locals, adopted the phrase and began using it in their daily lives. By 1970, Pura Vida could be heard echoing throughout the country, from coast to coast, and became a way of life for many Costa Ricans.
LIVING PURA VIDA
● Breathe ‘Aire Puro’: Make a point of getting fresh air, or ‘aire puro’, every day. Fresh air helps clean your lungs, improve your digestion and immune system, and even makes you happier. Getting fresh air daily enables you to breathe more oxygen, which increases your intake of serotonin, commonly referred to as “the happy hormone.”
● Eat a Balanced Diet: Costa Rica’s cuisine not only tastes good, it feels good. Sustainable farming methods are made possible because of the country’s fertile, volcanic lands, and the locals’ organic farm-to-table mentality. Throughout Costa Rica the use of fresh, locally-grown produce and zero artificial ingredients is prevalent. A typical Costa Rican diet might include bananas, mangos, papayas, cacao, coffee beans, legumes, corn and whole grains (such as tortillas) — all of which are rich in fiber. A balanced diet is necessary in order to give your body the nutrients that it needs to function properly.
● Say “Hola” to Your Family and Friends: Costa Rica’s Nicoya Peninsula has been classified as one of the five Blue Zones, a region of the world in which its residents commonly live past the age of 100 years due to healthy traits and lifestyles. The Nicoyans, and the Ticans (or locals) in general, value their family and community, placing importance on listening and laughing with one another. By frequently visiting and speaking with their families and neighbors, the Nicoyans feel supported and a sense of purpose. Having a strong support system can lead to a higher quality of well-being, better stress coping skills, and a longer and healthier life.
● Moments in Nature: Whether you live in a city or a suburb, find opportunities to surround yourself with nature. Create a garden, bring plants into the apartment, or make a habit of going on walks through your local park.Home to more than 5% of the known biodiversity in the world, the opportunities in Costa Rica for adventure and exploration in nature are endless. Exposure to nature is proven to increase mental health, and psychological and spiritual development. Being in nature, or even viewing scenes of nature, enhances emotional well-being and alleviates feelings of social isolation, in addition to reducing blood pressure, heart rate and muscle tension.
● Catch a Sensible Amount of Sun: Costa Ricans regularly take in sunshine, which enables their bodies to produce vitamin D. Regular, “smart” sun exposure can provide the body with vital nutrients to build strong bones and maintain healthy body function. Don’t forget to lather on sunscreen and to hydrate when spending time in the sun — another “lesson” from the Blue Zone!
● Maintain a Positive Mindset: Costa Ricans have a simple way of perceiving and appreciating life. By meditating, repeating positive affirmations, journaling and showing gratitude, one can maintain a positive mental state. An important factor in achieving Pura Vida is maintaining a positive mindset.