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While our family visited Costa Rica recently, I adopted a new motto. It’s a motto that perfectly captures my beliefs about life. It is “Pura Vida!”


Those of you who speak Spanish understand that these words literally mean “Pure life”. While in Costa Rica, we were amazed to hear the local people say these words dozens of times a day. They use “Pura Vida” to say Hello, Goodbye, Thank you, Good morning, and so on. It’s more than a special and meaningful saying for the locals there.


“Pura Vita” is a way of life.


During our trip, we did fun things like zip-lining and white water rafting, but one of my greatest memories is how happy the people of Costa Rica seemed to be. It’s a third-world country and many people don’t have much by way of material things, especially the kids that we visited at an orphanage, but they all seemed to have this peaceful, simple, and laid-back way of life.


Here are some quick tips on how you can sprinkle some of that “Pura Vida” magic into your own life.

Focus On What Matters


This is about how you respond to stress. It’s the choice to focus on the things that matter most in your life and not sweat the small stuff.


Most of us experience some level of stress in our life. In fact, according to the American Psychological Association, 1 in 5 Americans experiences extreme stress.


You can choose to let stressful situations take control of you and shift your internal state- or you can choose to perceive your reality through the “Pura Vita” philosophy and just take things lightly.


I have to admit that taking things lightly is not one of my natural gifts. I’m a planner and things outside of my control sometimes get to me. Being mindful of this new motto has been helpful. The reality is that if we don’t make a conscious effort to put things into perspective and lessen our stress, we might damage our health. According to the American Stress Institute, 70-90% of doctor visits are now due to stress-related issues.


Be Optimistic


This tip is about focusing on the best outcome in any situation.  When the locals in Costa Rica say or think “Pura Vida”, they set a conscious intention for positive things to happen. They focus more on what they DO want and less on what they don’t want.


The Mayo Clinic published a study showing the connection between an optimistic attitude and well-being. The 800 optimistic people that they followed for over 30 years said they experienced less pain and felt happier, calmer, and more peaceful


Be Grateful


This tip is about being grateful for everything you have in life, instead of dwelling on the negative things that you don’t have.  For the people of Costa Rica, it’s a perception of reality that is based on the belief that life is good, people are good, and there is goodness in every experience.


Feeling grateful instantly releases neurochemicals like oxytocin into your body, which naturally shut off the receptors in the amygdala, that part of the brain that generates fear and anxiety. With fear out of the way, we can feel more trust, forgiveness, love, and joy.


Your own thoughts, emotions and beliefs generate chains of physiological events in your body. Saying and thinking a positive life motto like “Pura Vida” consistently can condition your mind and move you into a more positive state of being.


By reminding yourself to focus on what matters most, to be optimistic, and to be grateful, you will not only change your internal state, but you’ll also impact your health and, I believe, your future reality.


I encourage all of you to find a life motto that works for you, and to use it often to focus on the purer things in your life- those things that you value most- so that you can fill your heart, heal your body, and nourish your soul.


Pura Vida!


Vered Kogan is an Executive Coach and Career Strategist based in Scottsdale, AZ. She loves supporting clients in identifying and connecting with their motto for life so they will feel more fulfilled. Visit for more information about her career coaching and job transition services.


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