Costa Rica Ticos: Roots of Happiness
A Hurried History: Time Developed Happiness
* The first known European explorer to step afoot Costa Rica was Christopher Columbus in 1502 on his fourth and final voyage.
* Carib Indians paddled out in canoes to greet him.
* Because of the gold the natives wore in their ears and noses, the late Gil Gonzalez Davila named the country Costa Rica or Rich Coast.
* Archaeological evidence supports that humans inhabited Costa Rica as far back as 10,000 years ago.
* An ancient city was recently found near San Jose. The city was complete with aqueducts, gold and jade.
* There were four tribes during the time of Columbus: the Diquis, Chibchas, Borucus and the Caribs.
* After Spanish colonialism, hardly any of the few hundred thousand natives lasted.
* The Spanish saw the tribes as a labor force. When they died out, African slaves were brought to work.
* Only a small percent of Costa Rica’s 3 million locals are of indigenous legacy.
* In the 1940s, President Calderon worked for black rights, —owning land and voting—started social security, holiday pay and minimum wage. He banned the communist party and nationalized the banking and insurance systems.
* Nowadays, though still teeming with problems, education is considered an important attribute to the culture. Over 6% of the countries’ resources go to education purposes.
* The country boasts a 95% literacy rate. Attending school till the 12th grade is free and mandatory. The rich or upper crust often go abroad or attend private universities for higher education.
How Costa Rica Happiness Works:
Once certain expectations are met within a people or a culture, it is believed—loosely evaluated from Maslow’s hierarchy of needs—that people suffer less. It’s not that they know better, per se, but that they feel empowered to not only take care of themselves but also to attain a higher standard of happiness. Perhaps Costa Rica is a case in point to this theory.
Though somewhat monetarily poor in many regions, Costa Ricans have some basic needs met—food, housing, health care, education and so forth. With this, Costa Ricans have a certain and profound happiness that cannot be easily explained.
Britain’s New Economics Foundation (NEF) completed a review of Costa Rica’s happiness two years ago. According to their surveys, Costa Rica grossed 66 out of 100 points on the Happy Planet Index (www.happyplanetindex.org). The study gauges such findings on life satisfaction, ecological factors and footprints, life expectancy and the “efficiency with which nations convert their natural resources to happiness and long life for the people.” The formula looks something like this: Life Expectancy (X) Life Satisfaction Results = ## / ecological footprint = Happy Planet Index Calculation)
Moreover, in “The World Map of Happiness” put out by Leicester, England, Costa Rica didn’t rank too poorly compared to the rest of the world either. The Leicester report puts Costa Rica at 13th of 178 countries examined. The constituents of the study included 80,000 surveys, life expectancy data from the UNHDR, per capita GDP and educational access. Here’s a bit on Costa Rica Tico and Tica culture and why they might just be so happy.
Tico & Tica, Meaning and Mindset:
Tico and Tica is the name by which Costa Ricans often refer to themselves. In the Spanish language, the suffix –ito and –ita is dyadic: used to illustrate something as smaller or diminutive and to show someone or something as approachable and thereby not harmful.
Tico and Tica is self-reflexive to the culture and people because of demonstrated traits and how Costa Rican people treat eachother and foreigners. It can be said that Costa Ricans—Ticos and Ticas—are polite and hospitable, with the imploration to behave well and leave a good impression on those they meet.
With such amenable and congenial behavior to others, the Costa Rican Ticos and Ticas may be happiest because of a laid-back approach to life and its fortunes and misfortunes. Used as a way to say hello and to convey pleasure, “Pura Vida,” is perhaps the most common phrase tourists, foreigners and visitors alike take away from Costa Rica.
The expression—verbatim translated meaning “pure life”—is more philosophically interconnected with a feeling of good spirits, enjoying life, close family and community and simple life celebrations. With such a homogenous outlook to life, it’s no wonder Ticos and Ticas live for the moment enjoying life.
Permeating Pura Vida:
This attitude of “Pura Vida” pervades both the rich through the poor in Costa Rica. Costa Ricans do not want to make a fool of themselves or a representative cretin of their culture. Because of this, Costa Ricans are not rude and will always try to help, even if they don’t know the “right” answer (“right” being relative to “perhaps,” or “maybe”). Because they wish to leave a good impression, they often will be nice to a fault even if they do not know the exact “answer.”
Ticos and Ticas generally abhor violence in general—they have no military, mind you. However, because of rising influence of money and power, crime is becoming more recurrent. Theft, for example, is the most rising type of crime. Ticos and Ticas have a robust national identity and consider themselves one nation above individual inclinations. Any sort of infringement on their social liberties or rights (or things “bad” for the people) is hugely, and by consensus, protested.
Costa Rica Family:
Though American-ism has impregnated itself into Costa Rican culture, family ties and values still hover around the more conservative . This is to say that most traditions in Costa Rica involve the close and extended relatives. Everything that is between birth and death is celebrated together by the family.
In fact, while going to university or college, most Ticos and Ticas still live at home. By and large, they don’t leave the family’s house until married. These close family bonds may have some grounds in their uniform caring of each other and others. Happiness, then, is a shared institution whereby everyone partakes in celebration and important events together. Togetherness is a common theme to Costa Rica culture and traditional events.
Though Costa Ricans face some mountainous issues—high crime, low jobs, increasing slums, government corruption, and incomplete infrastructure, to name a few—they quietly believe that the best will prevail. With belief in God, their laws and government, Ticos and Ticas bring a strong and ubiquitous faith when faced against difficulty. Their national happiness depends on it.