1) Life is good. In my former life as a pediatric hospitalist, I took care of children with complex medical problems. Many were technology-dependent to survive, required 24/7 nursing care, or were profoundly neurologically impaired. And they wanted to live. Their families wanted them to live. Why? Because life is good. Everyone’s perspective of what makes a good life is relative. These wonderful patients and their families felt that any life, even a life that was sick and broken, was better than no life. While in a different context, here in Costa Rica, Ticos have a similar attitude, and we expats are infected with the same perspective. It may not be perfect. It may not be what others consider to be a great life. But it is our life and we love it, because life is good.
2) Happiness is a choice. I walk into the Feria de Agricultor every Saturday and see the happy faces of the vendors, my friends, my neighbors, the lady who cuts my hair, my children’s teachers, and local shop owners. How many of them do you think owns an iPAD? How many of them have ever been outside of Costa Rica? How many live in a large house? None to very few. They are happy because they are going to buy fresh mangos and locally grown oranges. They are happy because they get to see their friends at the Feria. They are happy because they made the choice to be happy that day.
3) Bad experiences make you stronger.
“A woman is like a tea bag – you can’t tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water.”–Eleanor Roosevelt
Costa Rica is not immune to poverty, health crisis, and crime. But when I talk to my neighbors who are going through hard times, their attitude is come out of the crisis with dignity. The Pura Vida attitude gives them strength to face adversity.
4) People are good. I have never seen a community with such a self-less sense of charity as I have here in Monteverde. For example, there are some families that live in extreme poverty outside of Santa Elena. In order to help, a local gentleman has teamed up with community leaders to video tape community events such as fundraisers, bingos, and horse races. He sells the DVD recordings to the citizens of Monteverde/Santa Elena for $1 each and all the money is donated to families in need. There is also a local man who is in need of an operation due to a brain tumor. The community has rallied around him and has had multiple fundraisers to be able to fund his surgery. I know that stories like this are not unique to Monteverde. All around the world, there are signs that for the most part, people are good. The problem is that those with bad behavior seem to make the news more often.
5) Everything seems brighter amongst friends and nature. Whenever I get frustrated about the little things in life, such as the lack of details about events at the kids’ school or when I cannot find the right shampoo in town, I look out my front porch. This makes my world seem a little brighter. Sometimes I do get frustrated about more serious issues, such as the limited health care resources in our small community. During those times, I turn to the friends I have made here, and that makes me smile. Best of all is combining friends and nature into one. Throw in a cup of Costa Rican coffee, and nothing could rain on my parade.