Finally I touched on our host country Costa Rica, and their cultural mantra of “Pura Vida” – or “good life” in English when vaguely translated.
Sure, Jamaicans have their “Irie” and Germans have “Ausgezeichnet“, but “Pura Vida” is more than just verbalizing wishes of good intentions.
Pura Vida is printed on the Money.
Pura Vida is a National Way of Life!
Pura Vida is Costa Rica’s strength. It’s why I’m here and why I hope you (the reader) stay away.
Pura Vida is about living the good life, of stopping long enough to smell the roses of Family, Futbol and everything else in between.
Pura Vida is non-materialistic and non-competitive. It’s knowing that Having Enough is Enough.
Pura Vida is hanging out and sipping beer with friends or eating dinner and laughing with seemingly scores of family members or even in just plain hugging your kids.
Pura Vida is Costa Rica’s strength. A national strength that actually matters as Costa Ricans have consistently scored among the Top Three countries in recent annual global surveys ranking “The Happiest People in the World“.
However, to my Jamaican-raised, quantifiable success-oriented, “Where’s the Next Mountain to Climb” psyche – and perhaps many other Western World psyches – Pura Vida also has it’s negative or counterbalancing effects.
To partially paraphrase a Costa Rican friend as best as memory allows, when asked about world famous native Ticos, his reply included the phrase “we don’t really do that…“
Of course we are assuming that these physical, personal and professional “successes” mean something in the greater scheme of things, but societally, Costa Rica could not care less – even if they really did matter in the long run.
For instance, as another native friend explained to me, Costa Rica tends to play futbol very “respectfully” against soccer superpower Brazil – unlike Mexico for example, that will come out onto the field intending to go down kicking and screaming against Pele’s mega-talented descendants.
On it’s bad side, Pura Vida kills the motivational and performance boosting effects of competitiveness and scarcity.
It is so non-competitive that people actually lineup to board the bus in the order that they arrived at the bus stop in – without being told or threatened to do so – the perfect example of citizenry not obsessed with getting ahead of each other!
It’s almost the opposite of the German mindset. Satisfaction in what is, instead of a focus on what could be.
Satisfaction from having enough. Enjoy life. Pura Vida.