If you’re anything like me, you like being efficient and getting things done. I’m successful because I get a lot done quickly, and in Costa Rica I learned a lesson that has changed my way of being efficient. During one of my first few weeks in Costa Rica, I was walking back towards my place with a Tico girl. For those who don’t know, Tico is the way Costa Ricans describe themselves). The village I live in is tiny, and as we hit one of the 3 crossroads, she headed forward so I motioned to turn right. She looked at me and said:
- You know that you can get to your place by continuing straight?
I’m was a bit confused, because I always took the path on the right and I asked how. She replied:
- Yeah, you continue straight then you turn right, then left, then right again and you end up at your place.
I was still surprised, so I asked
- So that’s shorter?
She looked at me like I had asked the strangest question and replied
- No, it’s longer
I laughed, as it seemed like we were having the craziest conversation, and asked
- Why would you tell me about a longer way?
She still didn’t understand why I was puzzled, and replied as a “matter of fact thing”
- Well, if it’s a beautiful day and you can just walk a little longer, or if you have more time to get to town you can just take the longer way
I laughed at myself because it suddenly all made sense. It never really occurred to me that I could ask for the longer way. Then I realized that I had spent my entire life looking for the shorter way, for the faster way. In my head, I was still in a prison of my own beliefs about doing things efficiently.
When you get caught up in your own beliefs, you become prisoner of your own thoughts.
I consider this my first lesson in “Pura Vida”, because “Pura Vida” is the national saying in Costa Rica, which means “Pure Life”. It is the local motto for enjoying the moment and being present.
After this experience,
- I started looking for longer ways to get to places and to do things
- I started noticing every time that I wanted to do things fast, and I stopped myself in order to slow down
- I started slowing down for the sake of slowing down, and as a result I focused more of my attention on enjoying the journey
- Pay attention to every time that you want to do things faster, and keep a daily count. Post the result in the comments.
- The next two places you go to, find a way that takes twice as long. After taking the longer route, answer the question, “what difference did it make for you to take the longer path?”