Are you happy?
That seems to be the question being asked in recent times, from boardrooms to bars, international conference centers to offices of government leaders, business schools to book stores. Are we happy? Following our bliss? Living our passion? Are we "me-focused" or "others-focused"?
The tiny Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan even measures its country's prosperity by its "gross national happiness" (GNH), measuring the spiritual, physical, social and environmental health and happiness of its citizens and natural environment. Bhutan's policy attracted great interest at the United Nations climate change conference in Doha, Qatar last December.
Costa Rica has made it to #1 on the Happy Planet Index for two years in a row (2012 & 2011), based on its national conservation policies, small ecological footprint, high quality of life and life expectancy rate all being "exceedingly above par", states Forbes Magazine. The Happy Planet Index is an annual survey conducted by the New Economics Foundation, a British think-tank that aims to measure the level of happiness in every country in the world. The ranking system establishes a solid link between happiness and the environment or nature.
Susan Money and Greg Mullins followed their bliss 20 or so years ago to live in harmony with nature in Costa Rica. The California couple first opened a bed and breakfast hotel, then the very successful Florblanca Hotel on Playa Santa Teresa, and now are owners of the highly popular Pranamar Ocean Front Villas and Yoga Retreat, also on Santa Teresa Beach.
"The Pranamar experience is a unique one. Rather than the typical corporate model, we work under the family model. Pranamar evolved from a sense of oneness – a desire to be in community with people we love and people who simply make us feel good," explains Pranamar owner Susan Money.
Pranamar Villas is a gorgeous, intimate luxury hotel fronting the spectacular beach of Playa Santa Teresa on the southern Nicoya Peninsula of Costa Rica. A Trip Advisor award winner, Pranamar offers luxurious two-story poolside villas, elaborate oceanfront villas and tropical bungalows, all designed with Indonesian flair. Pranamar evolved from the Susan and Greg's experience of living in the Indonesian island-paradise of Bali. They loved living alongside a river where neighbors gathered in community. In that image, they created the four poolside villas alongside the "river" of their winding saltwater pool, along with abundant lush tropical gardens throughout the property. A hidden statue here and there, shells and rocks artistically placed in the pathways, all lend beauty to the eye at every turn.
The hotel's name shows the owners' passion in what they do. "Prana" in Sanskrit means "vital energy" and "breath". "Mar" means ocean in Spanish. There is definitely an uplifting energy at Pranamar.
"At Pranamar, I feel like what we're really doing is inviting guests to experience the beauty of life," comments Nancy Goodfellow, Yoga instructor at Pranamar and Susan's daughter. "To get out of our usual routines; to step aside and see this amazing nature around us and the beauty within us – this vital energy that is all around us. Simultaneously, one will experience this deep tranquility and inner peacefulness."
The long tranquil beach of Santa Teresa is nearly perfect with its light beige-white sand shimmering with crushed shells and volcanic sea glass in the sunlight, shady palm and almond trees, and spectacular sunsets. Along with world-class surfing and top-quality Yoga classes, retreats and package vacations, there are numerous activities to do in the area, such as snorkeling, horseback riding, canopy zip line tours and nature tours.
"The memories and friendships established at Pranamar will linger in our collective hearts for a lifetime," notes Susan.
The supreme accomplishment is to blur the line between work and play. Arnold Toynbee
Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful. Albert Schweitzer
By Shannon Farley