I the previous post, I blogged about what Pura Vida means. It is a commonly used phrase in Costa Rica, but it also epitomizes the positive attitude of Tico culture.
You don’t need to live in Costa Rica to live by the Pura Vida principles. After all, Pura Vida is an attitude and a way of life. Though Pura Vida implies a laid-back attitude that I have embraced, the journey to arriving here was not easy. It took a lot of work to be able to have a simpler life, ironic as that sounds. But in the end it was so worth it! Combining what I have learned from my Tico friends and the experience I have gained from my own transitions, I developed a checklist to help others achieve the Pura Vida lifestyle. Follow these simple rules to embark on your Pura Vida journey.
1) Visualize how you would like your life to look like right now. Write down your goals. Do you want to lose weight? Do you want to advance in your career? Do you want to forge a better relationship with your partner or children? Be as specific as possible. Only you know what you want out of life. Be honest and realistic.
2) Identify the barriers to your achievement of the life you visualize. The only way to overcome barriers is to face them head on. This process may be eye opening and painful.
3) Brainstorm ideas to overcome those barriers. Once again, sometimes we are our own worst enemies. Is your addiction to carbs and beer the reason you cannot lose weight? Is the reason you are not advancing at work is because you are getting by on doing the bare minimum? You need to be accountable and transparent to yourself.
4) Write down the steps you need to take to reach your goals. You know how to get to where you want to be. Most of us know what we need to do to lose weight. We know what we need to do to get promoted at work. We know what we need to do to be better parents. But it is one thing to know what to do and to actually see it in writing. All of a sudden, the plan becomes real. In medicine, checklists decrease errors and standardize care. As a physician, I am a big fan of checklists and find these handy lists help keep my eye on the prize at the end.
5) Develop a timeline for reaching your goals. This is a way to develop a personal sense of accountability. Enter your deadlines on your electronic calendar on your iPhone or Blackberry. Mark the deadlines prominently in the kitchen calendar. If you suffer a setback, don’t sweat it. Say “Pura Vida” and reprogram your timeline. The point is that if you set a deadline, you are more likely to reach that goal.
6) Identify a “Pura Vida” buddy who will take the challenge with you. Share your goals and timeline with each other for accountability. You don’t both have to have the same goals. You want to be each other’s cheerleaders!
7) Select an extended circle support group of positive people who encourage you. If you don’t have a positive group of people immediately around you, find them on twitter, Facebook, or Google plus. Social media can work in your favor in this case.
8) Stop comparing yourself to others.
“Don’t bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself.” -William Faulkner
You have a different body, talents, skill set, education, social background, and value system than everyone else. Set your own standards for what you want. If the grass seems greener on the other side, then it’s time to water your own lawn. You will be much happier when you find validation from your own accomplishments and forget about everyone else’s.
9) Each day, choose at least 2 positive aspects of your life and write them down. Look at what you wrote through out the day. I know this sounds corny and “Dr. Phil-ish”, but I swear it works. Gratitude for your own blessings in life is a key feature of the Pura Vida lifestyle. Ticos live it every day.
10) Whenever you feel a negative thought enter your mind, close your eyes, take a deep breath, and say, “Pura Vida”. Don’t yell it like Frank Constanza’s “Serenity Now”. Use it as a mantra to find inner peace.
Earlier this week, one of my yoga instructors said that to practice dharma, or the upholding of cosmic order and virtue, is a choice. I totally agree. We tend to look outwardly when things go wrong in our lives but look inwardly when things go well. It is time to be accountable for the good and the bad in our existence. By following these steps, you will reach your goals of finding a more positive you. That is Pura Vida! That is an action worth doing!