There is so much talk about “happiness” in today’s world—how to be happy, how to raise happy children, how to live a happy life. We are all so caught up in our busy lives, jobs and responsibilities that happiness can seem elusive. But there are places in the world where happiness thrives, and according to the Happy Planet Index, Costa Rica is the happiest country in the world.
At first we took this with a grain of salt—I mean who wouldn’t be happy living in a tropical paradise with perfect surf? We sure are. But then the Nicoya Penninsula, our little corner of the country, was identified as one of only five “Blue Zones” in the world, meaning people are happier and live longer here on the Nicoya. National Geographic, medical researchers, anthropologists, demographers, and epidemiologists teamed up to gain an understanding of why people living in Blue Zones live longer, happier lives. Here’s what they learned, and how we apply the Blue Zone philosophy to our surf camps here at Peaks N’ Swells:
People living in Blue Zones don’t pump iron at the gym; they live in environments that constantly nudge them into moving. Here at PNS, we spend most of the every day in the ocean, surfing, walking to a break, swimming under a waterfall, or practicing yoga outdoors. Like most things, proper instruction makes a huge difference with surfing. Our coaches have the expertise to help your progress so you can find the joy of the sport.
2. Find purpose …and pursue it with passion.
The Nicoyans call it “plan de vida,” which essentially means “the reason I wake up in the morning.” More than one unsuspecting guest has discovered they’re waking up before dawn ready for their next surf session, and finding true passion for the sport.
3. Slow down …work less, rest, and take vacations.
Routines that shed stress are key to happiness and longevity, and vacations are a wonderful way to take a break from stressful habits. Gorgeous gardens, ocean-view villas, hammocks and sun loungers, a tropical swimming pool, fresh, gorgeous meals prepared for you, daily yoga, and massage are all part of the package. Although we do have WiFi, we encourage you to unplug and unwind and we’ll take care of the rest.
4. Dine on plants …eat more veggies, less meat and less processed foods.
Here in Montezuma, we are surrounded by a plentiful bounty of natural goodness. With fresh fruit falling off the trees on the property and a local organic farm nearby, you can be sure that you will only dine on the best produce available during your stay. For that boost of protein we have the Pacific Ocean lapping at our doorstep, full of fresh fish and other delicious seafood.
There are so many life metaphors in surfing. Many of us have experienced an “ah ha” moment sitting on a board in the warm tropical waters, looking back over the unspoiled beauty of the Costa Rican jungle. It is almost impossible to not feel a sense of serenity and awe. On land there are humming birds and butterflies hanging on the breeze, families of monkeys in the trees and, if you are lucky, you may even get the chance to see baby turtles hatching from right out front of the camp. If you find spirituality in nature, then Costa Rica is a true Garden of Eden.
Blue Zone cultures invest in their children with time and love. Perhaps that’s whey our family camps are our favorite weeks. Working with amazing families and seeing them encourage each other, laugh together, celebrate accomplishments, and connect over family meals is so gratifying! Our family has been in Montezuma for 24 years and we love sharing our Costa Rica experience with other families. Everyone at PNS– from the tico family on property, to our internationally recognized surf coaches, and our growing alumni—is part of the PNS family.
7. Join a group…create a social network that supports healthy behavior.
Whether you’re traveling solo, or booking the entire camp for your family, the group dynamic at Peaks N’ Swells is a huge part of the experience. Fast friends are made in the water, and lasting relationships are formed on the waves. You’ll be hooting and hollering for friends who were strangers the day before, or finding new connections with old friends and family. At PNS, it doesn’t matter what job you have or how much money you make, the baseline commonality is that everyone has come to surf in Costa Rica.
We can’t guarantee that you’ll live a long, happy life after a week in the Blue Zone at Peaks N’ Swells…but it’s definitely a step in the right direction. Pura Vida!