You know… for a fact you have heard it. Everyone says that Costa
Rica is a Pura Vida country! When visiting the country or living here
for a while, the vast majority of people are fortunate enough to confirm
it. This is truly a country where it’s easy to enjoy life. But…is it so
When we talk about Pura Vida we are in essence referring to a
feeling that lives in the heart and flows through the veins of each
Costa Rican and that is spontaneously transmitted to the visitors who
set foot in this land. The philosophy of Pura Vida is in the genes of
all Costa Ricans and is easily transmitted by oral and physical
contact. That is, one can acquire it through conversations and smiles,
and then little by little, it starts permeating through each of our
Pura Vida is a special outlook on life. It is a philosophy that
states that happiness is found in the simple things, in the manner in
which one perceives life, how one relates to the world and values the
details on a day-to-day basis.
When we use PURA VIDA to define the country, we are basically saying
that this is a country that lives in peace and harmony. A country
without stress. A friendly, loving, and hospitable country. A country
with few prejudices. A country without trauma and with no army. A
clean, solidary, noble, respectful of the Earth country, and a country
that has learned to take it easy in life but still attaining
outstanding international records of pacifism, social justice,
stability, citizens happyness, a Nobel Price for Peace, the widest Blue
Zone area in the world, more than 94% of the energy coming from
renewable sources, and some very uncommon but brave desicions like
disolve the army 60 years ago and put the formerly military budget into
the education system, or that desicion of preserve for the future
generations more than 25% of the country territory.
All these virtues add to the beauty of its exuberant nature and
make Costa Rica as a whole a good place to live…. a very good place.
These are the reasons why Costa Ricans love their country so much
and so many foreigners choose it for a vacation or as a place to start
a new life.
But enough compliments! Every coin has two sides and the truth is
that all those specific conditions in which we have found so many
positive things, are, for a few suffering newcomers, the beginning of a
total nightmare! There aren’t many such instances, but they are there.
It isn’t rare in Costa Rica to see a foreigner furious because the
way of doing things here is very different from how they would be
done in their country of origin. It isn’t rare either to see another
individual highly upset because an order they placed several days
prior is not ready or because things do not move as quickly or in the
manner in which they are accustomed.
Costa Rica has achieved all the good conditions previously
mentioned, by opting for a unique set of priorities and in turn has
chosen to minimize the importance of other factors. One could say that
the major priority of Costa Rica is the degree of happiness achieved
each day and the satisfaction that each citizen feels about his or
While in most of developed countries, professionalism,
efficiency and business image can be extremely relevant and play a huge
social rol, for a good number of Costa Ricans might not be the most
It's good to understand early that here the concept of success could
be different. It has much more to do with the personal and family
happiness than with money, projects or work-related issues.
The Pura Vida citizen (could be CR born or inmigrant converted) will
always take care of having enough time to dedicate to the family and
the enjoyment of life. They will make sure to side step stress and
evade suffering for things not worth of suffering for.
This does not mean that in the country problems are not
resolved...sometimes could take extra time but always get done. What is
very likely is that when doing each thing, people here will try to
enjoy the process and suffer less stress...
The route to Pura Vida
Mental peace is a fundamental requirement to feeling completely
satisfied and fulfilled in one’s life. To attain mental peace, the first
major requirement is…. not to live stressed, which is quite the
opposite to mental armony. Stress is a bad guy expert in steal our intellectual and emotional peace.
In Costa Rica, this is something that has always been known.
The Costa Rican recipe: Take it easy in life.
The cost: Once in a while, someone who i s in a hurry will get upset.
Costa Rica with a European mentality would no longer be Costa Rica and perhaps it would not be a country so Pura Vida anymore.
The best thing that new residents can do is to read about Costa
Rica's history (extremely helpful!), read the news, learn the language,
make tico friends...
Much sooner than later, you will be loving and deeply respecting this unique culture.
Other suggestions that can help you to better embrace the Pura Vida way.
Dealing with complacency:
-When you need something in a hurry, the best thing is to request it
with humility and to explain the situation. Don’t forget, you are the
one in a bind. In Costa Rica people are much more responsive when you
speak from your heart. You will get a much greater commitment and
better results appealing to their solidarity than by being arrogant.
-Be more open in your expectations about deadlines and always allow for a margin of delay and the 'unexpected'.
-To prevent misunderstandings when placing an order or assigning a
duty, always explain in full detail what do you want and how do you
want. Most uncomfortable situations are a result of an error at initial
communication. If you do not speak Spanish yet, it is wise to take
someone with you to translate your instructions. This will help you
avoid misunderstandings and will also assist you in a better
-If things don’t go as you expect, take a deep breath and then think
of a solution. Skip the getting angry part. It's useless here and
actually can make the things worse, closing you the door for a solution.
To live... Pura Vida:
* Appreciate your surroundings. The air you breathe, the water you
drink, the breeze on your face, the endearments of your children,
that juicy mango, a walk on the beach, the sunset, the night, the
day, your friends…Feel more deeply the sounds, the aromas, the
colors, the textures, the smiles….
* Re-prioritize what is truly important for your happiness and what is not. Concentrate much more on the first.
* Complain less about what you don’t have and appreciate more what you do have.
* Celebrate and be grateful for the good things, from the smallest details to the largest achievements.
* Send out good vibes and they will multiply.