One way Costa Rica has shaped the way I walk through life…
There is a word in the Spanish language – humildad – that brings a smile to my face every time I hear someone use it. In text, the English translation of “humildad” is “humility”, and although conceptually the meaning of both words is the same, the significance of the term humildad as used throughout Costa Rica is (arguably) more widespread and valued than that of the term humility applied by most other countries.
Much like the ‘pura vida’–ness that exists in nearly everything Costa Rican, humildad is another expression commonly heard in Costa Rica that represents so much of the country’s culture, its cultural people, and the people’s way of life. Most would define humility/humildad as the quality or condition of being humble, and furthermore, would understand the term humble (Spanish translation: humilde) as modesty and/or a lack of being proud and/or arrogant – at least the dictionary defines these terms as such. For Costa Ricans, understanding humildad and humilde as conditions and qualities is only the tip of the iceberg (or should I say… the top of the volcano?). Instead, these words represent a way of being – a way of living a happy and fulfilled life – with character and generosity, in modesty, and never losing sight of one’s position in this world in comparison to everything/everyone else’s position.
It is mindboggling when you consider that one word – 8 letters – can not only stand for so much to so many, but it can also do so much, in creating a an ideal world for Costa Ricans. When talking to my husband about this ‘better’ world that humilidad creates an opportunity for, he explained that humilidad is essentially simpleness and being happy with everything you have. And the idea is just that – simple. Being satisfied with everything you have – regardless of what it is you do have and despite all of that which you may not have. How incredibly easy a feat to Costa Ricans, yet, an initially confusing (and a bit terrifying) task for many others.
Out of the many (many, many) other novel concepts Costa Ricans have invented and/or adopted to better their communities (many of which I will rant about in future posts), the acceptance of humildad must be my favourite. The notion encompasses the entire country – from the way Ticos (Costa Ricans) talk to one another, the respect the youth have for their elders, and the friendly assistance most are willing to provide to foreign travellers navigating their home. Although I first fell in love with the term humildad years ago, I am so fortunate to have time to spend in Costa Rica as well as family ties here to continually learn just how important humildad is in developing togetherness throughout a nation, as well happiness and one’s own well-being – inside and outside Costa Rican borders.
My husband and our friends and family here set examples as to how one can live their life humbly. And, on days when I am feeling less than humble and cannot seem to access encouragement from within (yes, we all have those days), fortunately I am lucky enough to have two simple reminders with me at all times giving me the boost I need to walk through life with humildad.
QUESTION TO COMMENT ON: What does humility mean to you?