Tag Archive for por dicha

D is for Dicha

Costarican idioms fro A to Z (loosely interpreted)

D is for dicha, or luck. When you ask anyone in Costa Rica how they are, they almost always answer, “Muy bien, por dicha,” or, “Muy bien, gracias a dios.”  “With luck,”  or “Thanks be to God,” we are doing okay. They acknowledge with this common greeting that their wellbeing is not an assured thing.

When I was in nursing school we learned in our cross cultural classes about something called locus of control. The idea was first introduced by Julian Rotter in 1954 and has come into and out of fashion in psychology ever since.

The idea is that everyone has a locus (Latin for place) where they feel their life is controlled. People with a high internal locus of control believe that events result primarily from their own behavior and actions.  Contrarily, People with a  high external locus  feel events outside of themselves decide if they are successful or not.

I’ve always found this concept fascinating and how it applies in things like obesity, diabetes management, and exercise, but I also think it applies to politics and the current state of inequity in the USA. For instance, has the recent economic decline in the USA flipped some people who firmly believed they had control over their destinies in to the external locus group? Hard not to see how that might happen. How many people lost jobs and fell behind in the mortgages or became homeless through no fault of their own? Do hard economic times change the statistics?

In Rotters’ time (the 1950s and 60s) the data showed whites as having a propensity for internal locus, blacks and hispanics, external. And in the 1950s it’s easy to see how those statistics might hold up. But now? I doubt it. My guess is white people are feeling less secure in their ability to steer their own ship, unless, of course they are in the 1%.

Costaricans tend to acknowledge that not everything is within their control. Life has taught them that.

I once thought I was firmly in the Internal Locus group. I could do anything I wanted. Now, being— of a certain age— I have discovered that even though I have done everything correctly, life sometimes offers up a curve ball when I thought it was coming right down the middle.

What’s your locus of control? Click here for a short questionnaire.