Living in Costa Rica, which has often been rated as the “Happiest Country on Earth”, has taught me a few things about finding happiness. It’s not about living in a tropical paradise. It’s about finding peace within.
1) Don’t wish for a different path in the past. Use the past only to help guide you in the future, not to keep you stuck there and wishing for something that is gone. Don’t sit and wish how things should have been done differently. Again, let past mistakes give you experience to apply in decisions for the future, but changing one decision in the past would prevent your present and no one knows what that other present would be like. Let it go.
2) Don’t live only for the future. Although it is important to set aside funds for the future, don’t forget your present by denying yourself everything for the plan of enjoying the future. We don’t know what the future will hold. We don’t know if we will be around to enjoy the future. We don’t know if the people we care about will be around to enjoy the future with us. Don’t wait until “tomorrow” to give the time needed to a loved one. Life is short. So, don’t leave all great experiences for the “future.”
3) Live in the present. Don’t live for the past nor for the future, but open your eyes, ears, and heart to the present. For example, how we treat a child each and every day affects the child’s future. Taking time each day to look around and be “here”, in the present and being your best each and every day.
4) Don’t wish for someone else’s life. The grass is always greener on the other side. Don’t think that everyone else’s life is so much better. Everyone has problems and until you have walked in their shoes, you have no idea the trials that person is going through. We see it every day with suicides of the rich and famous, in these lives that appear perfect. Celebrate the successes of others so that it makes you happy instead of letting jealousy bring you down.
5) Enjoy what you have. Right along with living in the present means appreciating everything you have. The people you have and the life you have. Find something every day to be happy about and give that significance in your life.
6) Get rid of anything and everything that doesn’t allow you to be happy. That means cutting off contacts that make you feel bad and blocking Facebook people who get you all riled up. My great-grandmother stopped watching the news because it was only about wars that were happening around the world or other terrible things that she couldn’t do anything about. So, she stopped stressing herself out and never turned on the news again. She focused on local efforts and within our family where she made a difference every day. I doubt any of us could be quite that absolute with our need for news, but you get the idea.
7) Surround yourself with people who love you and encourage you. Positive people who both help you see the great things in your life and are willing to be with you in all of the low times but to see you out of the rough times, not to keep you down in it.
8) When something bad happens, see the good side in it if possible. If I am waiting in a long line at the bank, at least I am in air conditioning in a chair instead of standing in a line in the heat.
9) Spread happiness. If something hasn’t happened to make you happy, send something nice to someone else. Giving creates happiness. Saying something nice to someone or helping someone naturally gives you a sense of happiness. Being grumpy spreads negativity.
10) Pura Vida! C’est la vie! Sh– happens. That’s life. The ability to get hit with an unpleasant situation and to be able to throw up your hands and use one of the above expressions is one of the reasons that Costa Ricans can be so happy. Don’t get mad. Shake your head, laugh, and move on. Pura Vida!
Tina Newton is an Oklahoma girl who has spent the last eighteen years living in Costa Rica. She has raised her two children and wonderful grandbaby there. She originally studied international relations with an emphasis on the Former Soviet Union and then finished with a Master’s in International Economics and Development at Oklahoma State University. After working as an analyst for a while, she felt the need to get out and help people and so she got certified as a Realtor in Kansas. Upon moving to Costa Rica, she opened and ran a community center, “Su Espacio” for 10 years, tried out another stint in the corporate world at Proctor & Gamble, and then came back to doing what makes her happy in the field of real estate. Finding homes and guiding people in the process is what she enjoys. She is always available to answer questions about living in Costa Rica. You can send her an email, catch her on the Facebook page, or send a message through the website for Tristan & Newton Real Estate.