This is my ‘takeaway’ from my trip to Costa Rica in February. I was gone for a month to learn more about life and learn more about me and it turned out to be one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. Here are my lessons:
Happier with Less
They say that, ‘money doesn’t buy happiness’. This is especially true with the people of Costa Rica.
Being happier with less is something that’s so challenging to think of for the average North American. We’re used to the fancy things; flat screen televisions, new cars, nice houses, and cell phones. But as a society we’re chronically anxious, depressed, stressed out and not very happy overall. On the other hand, most Costa Rican’s live in small homes with their whole families, they make $3 an hour, their infrastructure needs serious improvements (anyone who has driven on ANY roads in Costa Rica knows what I’m talking about), hot water is a luxury, and they don’t have many of the fancy things that we do in our society. However, they rank on top of the global happiness scale (as stated by a study done by UC Berkley). Life is simple in Costa Rica.
They take things slow….really slow #puravida.
In the country of Costa Rica, don’t expect anything to move quickly. They completely embrace the Pura Vida lifestyle meaning ‘pure life’. They take the time to enjoy life, and everything is much slower, the service at restaurants, the business interactions, and the driving. At first, when I arrived I was a little shocked by the level of chill, but once I took a breath and surrendered to it, my days began to unfold just like the Costa Rican’s, in the ‘Pura Vida’ way.
To me, doing nothing is one of the scariest things in the world.
I’m always doing something. For me it’s working, driving, working out, spending time with loved ones, and/or eating and creating new recipes too.
When you’re forced into an environment that makes you do nothing it’s a little scary because doing ‘something’ is all you’ve ever known. Everything you’ve ever known goes out the window.
However, when I realized that doing nothing was actually doing something, I shifted. When I realized that the time I spent in Costa Rica was time for me to grow and to become more of the person I want to be, it truly helped me to settle into the feeling of nothing.
Something interesting that kept coming up for me during my trip was a quote my aunt shared with me, “even discipline needs discipline”. This phrase always stuck with me because I tend to be such a disciplined person at home (and I don’t think I’m the only one out there 😉 ), constantly planning and making sure life goes exactly the way it’s “supposed” to.
What I realized was that my discipline needed a kick in the ass, and did it ever get one!
Being by myself is scary, but why?
For those of you that know me, know that I’ve struggled with anxiety and panic attacks for a good chunk of my life. For those of you that don’t know, well, now you do. ☺
It’s something that I’ve worked on extensively and have called on some incredible teachers like Gabby Bernstein and Marianne Williamson to guide me back to a peaceful state. I’m proud to say that I have a very strong connection now with my intuition as a result of doing the work with theses incredible teachers.
So, when I was by myself in Costa Rica, with new surroundings, unknown situations, and no one beside me to protect me, my fear talk started up again. I started concocting ridiculous ideas in the future that literally made no sense at all (which is typical when you have anxiety). My mind would go down to crazy town in two seconds and I would totally freak myself out.
Until…. I put on Gabby Bernstein, and her voice was exactly what I needed to hear, to make me change my mind to a faithful, loving mind state. After listening to a passage from her book, I would say to myself “Universe, I know I’ve detoured to fear, please bring me back to love”. Every single time this worked and I would instantly feel better, and in a go back to a peaceful state.
Step outside of your comfort zone.
Well I can definitely say I did this on my trip. I stepped outside of my comfort zone on many occasions. I got on a plane by myself, flew to a foreign country, went zip lining 700 feet above the forest floor, met new friends, went surfing, explored and traveled on my own for a month.
However, I’d be lying to you if I said everything went smoothly and I faced my fears effortlessly. There were definitely a couple moments while I was traveling when I thought I couldn’t do it anymore. However, whenever a fear based thought would creep into my mind, I would take a moment, and take a big breath and say to myself, “Girl you’ve got this, you have nothing to fear”.
I would instantly feel better. All I had to do was believe in myself. It sounds so cheesy, but in all honesty, it truly works every single time.
Being alone v. being lonely
Before I left for Costa Rica, My sweet Michael said to me, “You’re only as alone as you want to be”. Even if you don’t talk to anyone, sitting in a coffee shop or going to the beach and watching people means that you’re not alone. Even if you’re feeling “lonely”, just the energy will help reconnect you.
In the past, I would always feel awkward about eating alone or having a drink at a bar alone. I would say to myself, “what if people judge me for sitting by myself?” After traveling on my own, I’ve realized that people definitely don’t judge you for being on your own, if anything they’re most likely wondering, “what that confident, woman eating alone thinks about them as they sit with their partner, envying you of your freedom” (Thanks Happy Passport for this inspiration). But if they are judging you….just say….”who the F#%K cares?!” I really found it so beautiful to just sit in my own energy, make new friends, observe my surroundings, and simply be.
Another incredible lesson I learned while I was away was presence. I try my best to live in the present moment in my day-to-day life, but more often than not, I find myself planning the future and not truly living in the present moment
Being on my own allowed me to be truly present. Sitting in a restaurant, going to yoga, and talking to new people would allow me to observe my surroundings and take in life to the fullest.
Appreciation for Home
Traveling on my own has truly given me a greater appreciation for home, period.
I have so much to be grateful for. Being away from so many things in my life that bring me joy has been such an incredible lesson for me to be present with every single person and/or thing in my life.
I am so thrilled and proud of everything I accomplished and experienced while I was away in Costa Rica, and I hope you can take something away from my experience and use it in your own lives.
It’s your turn now!
Your life will never be the same.