When you ask your friends how they feel, do they often answer you: ‘life is perfect, I’m living a pure life’? Because they do that in Costa Rica! At the beginning of every sentence or at the end of it, Costa Rican keep repeating they are living the pure life. How amazing is that? But what is really ‘Pura Vida’ and how to implement it in your lifestyle? I tried to adopt the vision I had of a Pura Vida lifestyle during a month to experiment. Here’s a guide what I did and what I found out and the tools to try it yourself too!
What do they mean by ‘Pura Vida’?
Costa Rican swears all by this expression that they keep telling all the time. They often use it to answer the question: ‘How are you?’ or to wish someone good luck. The origin of this expression comes back to the 30’s when there was not much food in the country. Meat was rare and expensive and people were adding in their soup a bone, whenever they could, thus created the expression: ‘Puro hueso’ (literal translation being: ‘pure bone’) meaning the great things.
When food came back in the kitchens, it became ‘pura carne’ (‘pure meat’) until the 70’s and slowly but surely it transformed into ‘Pura Vida’ (don’t know if it’s because they ate less meat afterwards or because it was too ‘bloody’ for the tourists).
1st week: Preparing your mindset
I believe you don’t need to go to Costa Rica to try and adopt the Pura Vida lifestyle (although if you have the chance to go in the future, don’t hesitate! It is one of the most beautiful destinations I have ever done!). I believe that if you try to adopt the expression in your life daily whenever you are happy, it will slowly integrates and be part of your life!
The mantra I imagined for this first week is: ‘I focus on all the things I’m grateful for’.
The idea is to repeat that thought whenever you think about it during the day and if you can, do 2 meditations a day (whenever you want, it can be just 5 minutes) and keep repeating the sentence.
At night, make this little visualization exercise of what makes you happy. What could be your vision of the ‘Pure life’? Don’t try to think about a pre-packaged idea of everyone else’s dream and focus on what your ‘Pura Vida’ could look like to you!
After that exercise, you can sleep with it or you can journal it. Writing all your thoughts down can help you imagine better, allowing you to give it more details. The nice thing about it is that doing that every day for a week can really help you imagine what your dream is and in which direction you want to head toward too. Every night, it makes you feel good and sleeping on good and happy thoughts is the best way to have a nice sleep and a happy wake up!
2nd week: Enjoying every little moment
This week, the objective is to implement the expression ‘Pura Vida’ each time in the day you feel good. It won’t come naturally at first but as long as you are willing to try it whenever you think about it, it will become part of your life. You can think it in your head or try to start saying it out loud.
During your 2 daily meditations, your new mantra could be: ‘Each moment is a blessing’. Don’t hesitate to create your own mantra if you want, to own it better, relying on the fact that: it is important to enjoy every little moment. Life goes fast and life is an addition of billions of little moments. If you are trying to convince yourself that every moment is a good moment (even if you think it’s bad, it can help you grow, which then become a good moment because it’s an important step on your journey), in the future, your perspective will shift and it will help you feel better, even these little tasks that you don’t like to do.
I know it can be hard finding happiness while brushing your teeth (what I find super boring) but you can think that you are doing a great thing to take care of your body; throwing your garbage (which isn’t really fun) can become a way to do a workout and release endorphins in your body…
The beauty with that exercise is that it helps you focus on all those things you don’t see anymore. Even if you are not doing it every minute each day, the process to do it whenever you think about it is a new habit being created for your greater good (Harry Potter reference sorry, I’m a huge fan xD).
3 week: Owning your ‘Pura Vida’
This week, the idea is to continue the exercises of the past weeks but to own your ‘Pura Vida’ like a Native Costa Rican, from head to toes. I’ll explain. Whenever Costa Rican are saying this expression, they don’t just say ‘Pura Vida’ and live it like that. They are saying it with such a huge smile that it gets contagious. They say it with such happiness on their face that it becomes a relief for you. A reminder of what a ‘worry-free, stress-free’ life is! They say it until you react and they see that you are fine, that you too feel good.
Your goal for this week is to create that reaction to the people surrounding you. The first days, they won’t understand (unless they have been in the country but it won’t probably be everyone) so explain it to them: ‘Oh, this is something Costa Ricans apparently say when they are happy and wish the person in front of them to be too’ or anything other explanation that comes to mind. They will probably be flattered that you took the time to wish them a ‘Pure Life’ sending all your love and good wished for them.
Maybe your smile will make them happy for 10 seconds or maybe it will make their day. Your good influence will spread, propagating its good aura everywhere around you.
This week, continue your short or long meditation twice a day and occasionally, let the ‘Hakuna Matata vibe’ take control of you. Sing it under the shower, in the elevator, in the toilets, while cooking…I know it can sounds ridiculous but it worked for me, so why won’t it work for you?!
4 week: Seeing the benefits
This week is all about continuing what has been done and seeing the benefits of it!
It is all about observation, seeing when your sad or angry thoughts are popping up again and how to transform them into benefits. Maybe this week it is hard to say ‘Pura Vida’ to your worst enemy (if you have one) or your manager who declined you this promotion or your neighbor who prevents you from having a great sleep by doing lots of noises every night. But it is also a chance to come back to learn how to come back easily to your ‘Pura Vida’ mindset.
It is noticing what to do or not do, helpers or haters…like a meditation is helping you to focus on your breath or a mantra, this mindful state that you now have is a way to help you release pressure, forget about expectations, make every moment a good moment or something you will benefit later from and create a contagious good vibe attitude that will impact everyone now or later.
As a last exercise, at the end of the week, ask yourself these questions: Has your mindset changed? How do you feel? How do the people around you react to it? Did the daily meditations help you?
Tips to help you get the best out of this experiment
- Change your computer/smartphone/tablets background with the mantra of the week to think about it more often. You can also write a Post-It and put it to all the places you use to look at carefully. It can be your alarm clock, your computer, your mirror…
- Find a buddy to do this experiment with! It’s always more fun when you are doing it with someone. Even if they are not really convinced, try to tell them about all the benefits of it like: helping switch the negative thoughts to more positive ones, changing your routine, make your day a better day…
- At the end of each week, try to write down or record how you felt doing these little exercises. How did you feel? How your relatives or colleagues reacted to your change of mindset? Were they happy to know more about the ‘Pura Vida’ lifestyle?
Did it motivate you to try it? Share this article with a friend who you think might get benefits from it or who you want to do it with and tell me how your challenge go!