Who Do You Want to Be in the World?

Is there something about how you typically process the world that could benefit from some…adjustments?

For me, it’s intensity. Intensity is one of those things that can be a gift and it can be your Achilles Heel. It drives me, but it also a barrier to experiencing the world, life’s situations, and myself with the ease and grace I’d like to experience them.

Intensity was certainly inherited. My dad was incredibly intense. He lives on through me. He mellowed over the years and thus I have hope for myself. But there’s no question that moving to Costa Rica will hasten that mellowing or be my demise. Intensity is not the Costa Rican way.

Life is “chill” here. People don’t get frustrated over internet outages or not getting responses to emails. Life seems to hum along just fine if you’re not pushing at it from a million directions, hoping to bend it to your will. In fact, it seems to flourish.

This may be one of the biggest lessons I am to learn in this new world. How to let life “be.”

Our son started school on Tuesday and, as often happens with starting new things, there were challenges to overcome. Especially given that the new school is still meeting virtually, it was to be expected. My insides were tied up in knots most of the day. I could feel my muscles tense. Every cell in my body was in reactive-mode. I was in a situation I couldn’t control, and it was making me absolutely crazy!

But what was different this time (and there have been a lot of “this times” in my life), was that I recognized what was happening. I could almost stand outside myself and observe how the tension and frustration were shape-shifting me to be someone I didn’t want to be. Someone who didn’t belong in this beautiful, relaxed foreign land.

“Pura Vida,” I whispered to myself about a million times in attempts to settle myself down. “It’ll all turn out okay. Pura Vida.”

Pura Vida is Costa Rica’s national motto. It translates to be “pure life.” Isn’t that wonderful?!

Pure life. Pura Vida.

But when Costa Rican’s use the term, it means, “Enjoy life. Relax. Live carefree and enjoy the beauty of life rather than stressing about it.”

I wasn’t alone in my stress, husband shared my new school experience. He too felt his tension rising and frustration mounting. Our American need to control the situation at hand was our puppet-master for the day.

We both also realized that that’s not who we want to be in this new life.

“We need to get our Tico on,” Tim said, shaking his head. (“Ticos” are people who are born in Costa Rica.”

I recognize that this may be the single most life-transforming shift I could make. To set aside my intensity (nothing personal, Daddy. Love you!), and embrace a new way of showing up in the world. How might that affect my health? My relationship with my family? How I interact with the situations in my life? How I feel about myself? How I feel period!

Pura Vida. Pure life.

We all have things about how we process the world that we know could shift in a healthier direction. I think “brave” invites us to take on these challenges.

For in an attempt to truly be and bring our best, most authentic, and powerful selves, we cannot afford to ignore the price we’re paying for not taking on the hard stuff. For not facing the parts of ourselves that aren’t serving us. For not being truth-tellers with ourselves.

Who do you want to be in the world and how do you want to experience yourself?

Take responsibility for being the person you are capable of becoming. Care about yourself enough and give yourself the grace to gently grow into your better self.

I know this won’t be an overnight thing. I know I’ve got a long way to go to relinquish my intense, controlling ways. But I also know where I want to be. The light of awareness shines so brightly I cannot miss its call.

Pura Vida. Pure. Life.

©A Thoughtful Company, LLC


Kimberly Davis
Kimberly Davis
An expert on authentic leadership, Kimberly Davis shares her inspirational message of personal power, responsibility, and impact with organizations across the country and teaches leadership programs world-wide; most notably, her program “OnStage Leadership” which runs in NYC and Dallas, TX. Additionally, Kimberly teaches for Southern Methodist University’s (SMU) Cox School of Business’s Executive Education Program's Transformational Leadership Program and their Latino Leadership Initiative. She is also privileged to teach for the Bush Institute’s WE Lead Program (empowering female leaders from the Middle East). Kimberly is a TEDx speaker and her book, Brave Leadership: Unleash Your Most Confident, Authentic, and Powerful Self to Get the Results You Need, is the 2019 winner of the Benjamin Franklin Silver Award for Business and Career; an Amazon Bestseller in Business Leadership, Business Motivation, and Self-Improvement, and Motivational Business Management; and was named as the number one book to read in Inc. Magazine’s “The 12 Most Impactful Books to Read in 2018,” with a cover-endorsement by best-selling author Daniel Pink.

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  1. Such a good lesson from you, as always, Kimberly. We need to step out of our American puppet-master role, and that takes practice.

    Charles’ Duhigg’s brilliant book, The Power of Habit, succinctly outlines the three phases of habit: 1. trigger. 2. response 3. reward. I’ve coached folks to add a half-step after trigger: “STOP!” We have to catch ourselves in the act of “trigger awareness” and consciously choose to behave differently. It all works if we’re aware of why we behave otherwise in the first place – the reward we seek. In your American puppet-master role, we might be seeking control: “I’ll fix this!” you say between gritted teeth. So whatever new behavior we adopt – e.g., “pura vida” – has to guarantee the same reward, or our neolithic brain will go “Wha? What are you doing?” “Pura vida” would actually appear to give us MORE control (!) because we can be more rationally engaged.

  2. Thank you for sharing this part of your journey. I too used to want to control everything around me. Type A to a tee.

    But as I progress in this life, I realize that Type B’s have a point too. I’d like to try to experience life in both ways. This past weekend as a test I took not one but two naps on my day having no kids or work. I’d normally be super productive, but why? Sometimes you just need to be still.

  3. Dear Kimberly,

    Your essay is truly enlightening, visiting a sparkle to me on a dark Friday night, tapping away at a keyboard.
    Pure Vida. Wonderful. ‘Pure Life’. So special. I have the impression that you and your family are settling down in Costa Rica. And I think your neighbors will enjoy your company so much. We’ll have to have another WhatsApp Facetime again soon then you can tell me all about it!

  4. Kimberley,
    Love this raw, authentic and humbling share! Your writings always inspire a ‘deeper’ thinking with the questions you pose.

    Living in Portugal today your comment made me laugh “Our American need to control the situation at hand was our puppet-master for the day.” This right right here has given us great insight into how ‘programed’ we have become with our own expectations. #painful.

    Love that you are living your new adventures out loud! Pure Vida #purevidaalways

  5. Kimberly! “Pure Vida”. I love this!

    “ Take responsibility for being the person you are capable of becoming. Care about yourself enough and give yourself the grace to gently grow into your better self.”

    I embrace the dignity in me non. I see situations as learning opportunities, i se that i cannot possibly know outside my own Thoughts and am able to find some solace in letting things be at times and spending more time with me🙏

    Thank you fo this inspirational article 😁