Updated: Jan 4, 2022
Costa Rica is ranked among the happiest countries in the world. Curious where the United States is ranked? In 2019, the United States was ranked 19th. Does that surprise you?
After my trip to Costa Rica, I can see a lot of major differences in our countries that we can learn from to improve our own happiness.
I personally was challenged in Costa Rica by the laid-back mindset. For someone who is type A and has to schedule time to sit still, taking a deep breath and going with the flow can be challenging. But when I travel, I look at it as an opportunity for growth. Being in this mindset can really change your experience and perspective on things that may be different than you're used to.
In a world that is craving connection, fulfillment, and happiness, there is an amazing opportunity to learn from different cultures that have found some of the secret sauce. Life can be hard no matter where you are from, it's how we handle these hardships that can make all of the difference.
Costa Rica is home to one of only five Blue Zones in the world. A Blue Zone is a region in the world with a high concentration of people who live much longer than the average lifespan. Bluezone.com provides an explanation for why Costa Ricans in this region live a healthy life even into their 100s. A big part of that is the "plan de vida" mindset, which gives Costa Ricans a strong sense of purpose but also has a focus on contributing to the greater good. There is a lot we can learn from this. I think one of the biggest lessons is that healthy and happy lives are ones that live abundantly and also value the communities around them.
So, what can we learn from a country that radiates happiness?
Appreciate connection and tressure the valuable relationships in your life. Costa Ricans attribute their high well-being to solid relationships with friends, family, and neighbors. They know how to listen, laugh, and appreciate the connections they have.
Spend time trying to find your purpose. Say yes to the things that move you toward that purpose and don’t be afraid to say no to the things that don’t. I learned from the people I met in Costa Rica that when you understand your purpose, you feel less stressed. Local people feel needed and want to contribute to a greater good.
Embrace the beauty of the nature around you. Costa Rica is home to 6% of the entire world's biodiversity. The locals are not afraid of the bugs, animals and sea creatures around them, they learn to respect them. Beauty is all around us and in all things.
Time is relative! Try to go one day without wearing a watch or checking the time on your phone. The worth of time is in how we spend it, not how we track it.
Be thankful for even the small things in your life. Thank yourself, the people around you, the universe for the positive things you've been given and received. The happiness you will gain from acknowledging even the smallest positive things in your life is endless.
Be genuinely kind. Practice patience. Costa Rican people genuinely want to be helpful. Spreading kindnesses comes naturally to many of the people I met on my trip. The world would be a very different place if everyone learned to be a little kinder to people that cross their path.
Keep things in perspective. When we acknowledge what is in our control and what is not within our control, we stress less about the things outside of our control. We can learn from Costa Ricans to let go of the things that are not within our control, breathe and keep going.
Take time to unplug more often. We live in a world that is fast-paced and always connected. Taking time for yourself, with your own thoughts, is not selfish. Taking a moment or several moments to pause is a great version of self-care.
My biggest lesson while I visited Costa Rica is to admire cultures different than your own. There is something you can learn and gain from other cultures when you are open to receiving the lesson.
You tell me, what's one of the biggest life lessons you've learned from traveling or from experiencing a culture that is different than yours?