What is ¡Pura Vida!

I recently got back from an amazing trip to Costa Rica. It was absolutely amazing and has changed me (I hope) forever and for the better. Unfortunately it wasn’t 31 days, but rather it was only 8 days. However I’m taking on a writing challenge of writing something every single day for 31 days straight. I decided to write about the change in my life…

¡Pura Vida! is the Costa Rican way of life. Translated it’s “pure life” which sounds pretty simple but in practice it goes much deeper. Most of the time folks look at it as just like a “hang loose” or something like that. But it goes a lot deeper than that.

It started in a 1956 film from Mexico called Pura Vida in which the main character said the catch phrase all the time as an expression of unbridled enthusiasm. The movie was a hit and the phrase started spreading. It was slow but by the 1970s, it was all over Costa Rica. It was even officially recognized in dictionaries in the 90s.

The phrase really means that life is wonderful, that there is always someone who is less fortunate that you and we are all in this together. This pervasive outlook on life is outstanding and something that more of us need to adopt.

As I looked around Costa Rica, I saw some real poverty but everywhere I looked I saw amazing generosity, joy and community. Jeremy Sublet and I were driving through a small town and stopped for lunch. The town obviously didn’t have any money and everywhere I looked I saw joy and love whether it was couples walking in the park or having lunch together or kids playing in the streets. At the end lunch, we were headed back to the car when one of the guys at the bar held up his beer to us and I heard that phrase for the first time – “¡Pura Vida!”.

At the time I didn’t understand what it meant. But I laughed and said “¡Pura Vida!”.

Now that I understand more about it, I look at my life and think about all of the times when I’m wallowing in self pity. Yes, I have hardships in my life. But there are so many people who have so many more real troubles in their life.

Over the next 31 days, I’ll be writing about ¡Pura Vida! and how I’m going to be trying to incorporate it into my life.

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