Today (Monday, March 20) is the International Day of Happiness. I feel like this is the perfect day for me to write about my experience working in Costa Rica so far, because if there was one word I would use to sum it up it would be: happy. Not to sound too cheesy, but there is something about this country, the people who live here and the environment in which they live, that captivated me since the second I stepped foot on Costa Rican soil. I have become completely drawn to the “Pura Vida” lifestyle that Ticos, as Costa Ricans call themselves, live by. Though Pura Vida is used to mean many things, my understanding of it reflects the simple sense of happiness that people decide to live by. By focusing on the positives of life, they refuse to allow any sense of worry occupy their minds. I find this perspective to be incredibly inspiring, since sometimes it is easy to allow negativity to weigh us down and distract us from what is truly important. Everywhere I go, I am greeted with a smile. I can’t walk down the street without seeing families and friends talking and laughing, simply enjoying each other’s company. I may have only gotten to Costa Rica two months ago, but everyday I find myself more aware of the beauty that surrounds me and more interested in forming human connections that ever. I wake up with a smile on my face knowing that everyday in this country is an adventure.
One of the greatest sources of joy for me has undoubtedly been the children I work with! The amount of happiness these children bring to me is unparalleled. Their enthusiasm, determination, and positivity toward lacrosse reminds me of the simple joy that participating in a sport can bring. It is the exact sense of joy that had me hooked on lacrosse since the age of five. One thing I am certain of: I may be teaching the children lacrosse, but I am learning so much about life from them. Most importantly, they are teaching me not to take life too seriously and to enjoy every moment. For example, though I have seen plenty of beginners struggle to catch and throw, I have not observed a single ounce of frustration as a result. The look of triumph on their faces when they do finally manage to catch the ball if proof of the magic that this sport can have. It is this exact enthusiasm to learn and grow that motivates me everyday to give my very best to these children. And it is that exact enthusiasm that makes me feel like the luckiest person in the world to have the opportunity to work with LtN in Costa Rica.
With all of that being said, the Lacrosse the Nations team is thrilled to announce that we are seeking enthusiastic, dedicated volunteers to join our programs in 2017! With their help, we are looking forward to boosting our programs and making them stronger and more impactful than ever. By volunteering with LtN, you would not only be helping LtN grow, but volunteering has been proven to have a positive impact on personal happiness as well! Recent studies have found that volunteering is highly associated with greater health and happiness, and just a few hours of volunteer work can make a difference in happiness and mood. The experience of helping others has also been found to provide meaning, a sense of self worth, and health enhancement. Statistics also show that of people who volunteer, 96% say it enriches their sense of purpose, 78% say it lowers their stress levels, and 94% say it improves their mood. Living in a beautiful country, being surrounded by incredible people, growing the game, AND significantly increasing your personal level of happiness?! It doesn’t get much better than that!
“The unselfish effort to bring cheer to others will be the beginning of a happier life for ourselves.” — Helen Keller
Celebrate International Day of Happiness by checking out our 2017 volunteer openings in Costa Rica and Nicaragua to learn more about how to get involved!