Dec 27 2013

What’s Past is Past: Choosing Happiness in Costa Rica

by Ana Rodriguez Del Valle, written March 17, 2013

It has been one year since I moved to “paradise.” For a long time before we came to Costa Rica, it was pretty much all my husband and I could talk about.

In the States I complained about the traffic, the long commute to work and back, cost of living was too high, I wasn’t home enough, my husband was growing old without me by his side, insurance was high, crime rate was terrible, utilities too expensive, it was too hot, too humid, I did not spend enough time with my dogs, and on and on and on…..

We took apart our lives, sold some things, gave away others, sold our house, I quit my job, my husband quit a human rights organization he had been a part of for many years, together we left behind 7 children, 10 grandchildren, 1 great grandchild, beloved family and friends and a lifetime of memories.

I now grow my own organic vegetables, take yoga classes, cook healthy meals, pursue hobbies, spend time with my husband, with my dogs, have started a rescue group, have made new friends, I hike, I watch sunsets, go to the river, drive through the mountains, look at amazing views, take my dogs to the park, read, write and live a privileged,amazing life. Would I leave this life behind to go back “home”… bet I would, in a heartbeat.

There is a picture in my house that I look at often. This picture was taken two years ago when I went on a trip to Disney World with my aunt and two dear friends and it represents one of the happiest memories I have. When I look at it I find myself wishing I could take that trip again and re-experience all the happiness it brought. But, could I really do that? Definitely not. Even if I replicated all the conditions of that trip, it would never be the same. A moment, a phrase, a smile, a gaze, a word, is unique in the present mode only and once that moment passes it belongs to the past and the past is a place that should not be revisited too often, doing that prevents a person from being grounded in the present.

So, why would I go back to my old life when I have a life that is the envy of many? There are some true and valid answers to that: I miss my granddaughter, it makes me very sad not to be there as she grows up, I miss my aunt, she was my “partner in crime” for many years, I miss the rest of my family and all my good friends; but there is also another answer, I would go back because it is WHAT I KNOW, because good or bad, it was my life for 45 years. This is nice, this is beautiful, I get to do what I have always wanted to, but it still does not feel like my real life, it still feels like an extended vacation. In other words, my resistance to adapt comes from living in the past, something which only causes me pain and sadness.

I believe that being happy is a choice that we make. Turning negative thoughts into positive ones requires a conscious effort. Therefore, I will make a resolution to be happy starting today: I will never forget my past but I will start living in the present. I will treasure my good memories and be thankful for them. I will count my blessings. I will breathe this cool mountain air and delight in the sunsets. I will cherish every moment I get to spend with my loved ones no matter how short those moments might be. I will be grateful that technology allows me to talk to my family and friends and even see them as if I was there. I will enjoy this opportunity to be with my husband and enjoy his golden years. I will pursue lifelong dreams. I will make this new life my own. From now on THIS WILL BE WHAT I KNOW!

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