“Paradise” is a funny word. By dictionary definition, it means ‘an ideal or idyllic place or state.’ There have been many-a-debate over paradise. For some people, the beach and palm trees come to mind. For some, it’s mountains topped with glittery snow. And I’m sure countless variations in between.

When my husband and I decided we were fed up with climbing the corporate ladder and suffering through Chicago winters (yes, based on our preferences, it was suffering) we landed on Costa Rica as our destination to start fresh. We’ve now lived in the bustling surf town that is Tamarindo, Costa Rica for a little more than six months and here we’ve found our version of paradise. While the palm trees and beach are beautiful, there are a few reasons beyond the surface that have resulted in our love for our new home:

1. People have mastered the art of chilling out.

The ability to just relax and chill – whether it came to the actual physical activity of relaxing, or not having anxiety over life circumstances we couldn’t control – was severely lacking in our life. I’m personally learning so many valuable lessons from our new friends and neighbors in not sweating the small stuff and taking the day-to-day of life in stride. I feel lighter, consistently less stressed and in general have truly grown in my ability to not let anxiety take control in life’s hiccup moments – be it running a few minutes late, or the internet going out 10 minutes before I need to rely on it for a conference call. “Pura Vida” is not just a saying, it’s a way of life here, and while I’ve missed out on it for quite some time, I’m catching up now and learning how to slow down a little one day at a time.

2. The climate supports our ideal lifestyle.

Take a step back for a moment and think about the things you truly love to do on a daily basis. What keeps you active? What kind of atmosphere keeps you motivated? Of course it’s different for everyone. But for my husband and I, a big factor in our daily happiness is being able to go outside, enjoy nature and be active without having to bundle up to do so. Clearly, we were living in the wrong region of the world before. Now with the exception of rainy days which are few and far between, we wake up to consistent tropical temperatures and sunshine everyday. If this sounds familiar, maybe it’s time to think about trading your snow for sand and sun?

3. We’ve been forced to get back to the basics, and it’s served us well.

Where we live now, there’s no big box stores. There’s no movie theatre. Most of the roads aren’t paved. Sometimes the electricity and internet service are spotty or go out. Sometimes we even have shortages of running water when there’s been a lack of rain. Essentially many of the modern conveniences we once knew have been erased from our daily life. To many, this may sound like a step backward in the journey of life. For us it has saved us. It has saved us from getting wrapped up in a society obsessed with stuff. It has saved us from our total technology dependency – even despite the fact that we both work online. It has made us stop and appreciate basic daily resources we once took for granted. We’ve gotten to a point of buying locally sourced food and cooking real meals at home. We feel healthier, more grounded and freed from so many products of westernized modern society that we didn’t even realize were weighing us down like anchors, until we didn’t have them anymore.

I realize this may not sound like paradise to you. And if it doesn’t, that’s perfectly fine. My challenge for everyone is to dig deep within yourself and determine what it is that truly makes you tick. When do you feel most alive, most free, most inspired? And what kind of place on this big beautiful Earth would satisfy those criteria for you? Paradise is not just a picture on a postcard, it’s a place where you can be free to live out your ideal life. It does exist as long as you’re willing to put in the leg work to find it.

Research, explore, discover. We never know what tomorrow, next week, next month or next year will bring and with that in mind there’s no better time for each of us to seek our own paradise and live there – there are no limits outside of your own self doubt. If you can push your ‘what-if’ fears aside, you can find your paradise just as we have, and live it out loud every day.

Pura Vida!

Jackie Minchillo has a double bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism and public relations, and recently left behind a marketing/PR agency career in the United States on a quest to create a life that doesn’t require vacation and the opportunity to travel the world long before retirement. She’s a beach-going, dog-loving, independent-thinking freelance writer and currently lives in Tamarindo, Costa Rica with her husband and their dog Harvey. To read more about her adventures and thoughts on life, you can check out her blog at www.daywelllived.com

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