Summary: The Secret to Happy By Vicky Pattison
Summary: The Secret to Happy By Vicky Pattison

Summary: The Secret to Happy By Vicky Pattison

Finding your feet in your pesky, pinot-filled twenties

Take a break from the rush and carefully consider what you actually want to achieve. Don’t let the panic of your twenties push you into some dark places or bad mental spaces.

Ask for help if you need it. It might feel like now you’re in your twenties you’re an adult and should have everything sussed and sorted, but that is rarely the case. Don’t be afraid or ashamed to ask for advice from people who you respect.

Allow yourself a bad day and move on. Don’t feel bad about things you’ve done in the past when you could be focusing that energy on the future.

Say no. Even in your twenties, when you’re new to things and looking for opportunities, you don’t have to accept anything simply because it’s on offer.

Own your pain and allow yourself to reflect, feel low, and cry if you have to. There is no point storing up emotions, because they will escape at some point, even if it’s when you’re old and sorted.

Give yourself a compliment. Acknowledging the stuff you’re getting right will help you feel less shit about the stuff you may have got wrong. Everyone deserves a pat on the back sometimes.

Try something new. You are never stuck or trapped, whether you’re in your teens, twenties or eighties. You can change careers, move cities, leave behind unhealthy habits for ones that make you feel good. Who you are as a teen or twentysomething does not have to define you or your life forever.


Learning to love the skin you’re in

Listen to your physical needs, your body will always tell you what you want – whether it’s a bloody vegetable once in a while, goddammit Vicky, or a rest. Listen to it;

Appreciate your body – it is your home and it has gotten you this far, so be kind to it;

Know your worth, inside and out – you are beautiful, strong and powerful beyond measure and it’s about time you realised it. Try telling yourself that every morning, or come up with your own positive affirmations. You can say anything you want, but just make sure you’re getting up and taking control of your day and how you see yourself;

Celebrate your wins, workouts and good choices. Give yourself a pat on the back when you pick the green juice over the bacon sandwich because you’ve had a big weekend and you know it’s what your body is crying out for. That is a power move and deserves your acknowledgement.

Accept your changes, free of fear. Your body will be different at different points in your life. Relax, this is natural and shape or size doesn’t define you. Your attitude to change does. So go forward with sass and grace and be 100 per cent that bitch regardless of your dress size.

Set yourself healthy boundaries and goals – don’t be afraid to put yourself first and also always be realistic.

Support other women through their moments of self-doubt. Girls compete with each other; strong women empower other women. Don’t ever forget that.


Friends who’ll be there for you

Listen to understand you, not just listen for their turn to speak. Too often we don’t have real conversations with friends, we just embark on a battle for airtime, not properly taking on board what the other person has shared. Think about what they’ve actually said, and respond with empathy;

Check in with you – and not because they need something but because they genuinely care about you. The friend who just reaches out when they need a babysitter, or an in with your new boss, or someone to go drinking with, is not a real friend at all;

Value your time, energy and opinions. They keep their promises and don’t let you down, or keep you waiting without explanation, and give you space to share, free of judgement – offering advice and solutions, or just a sounding board. A good friend allows you to be you, and values what you are – there are no needs for airs and graces, or putting on a show. You accept each other;

Celebrate your wins, commiserate your losses and are not competitive with you – nothing drains a happy friendship like envy or jealousy. A true friend will be happy for your good luck and enjoy your good times, as you are for theirs, and would never gloat or say ‘I told you so’ when things don’t go your way; . . . and allow you to do all of the above for them! Friends who let you share in their good times boost your own happiness, because giving attention and affection is a real serotonin boost. It feels good to be a good friend, that’s a fact.

Oh, and cherish friends who bring you wine and snacks (this one is very important) but protect your peace – don’t let toxic people drag you down. It’s hard, but you must close some doors if they take you down bad friendship paths.


Family . . . the friends you can’t pick

Family relationships can change, evolve, grow. Don’t bring all your old feelings and judgements to every new situation or new argument. Actively work at seeing things how they stand currently, without preconceived ideas. This will allow you a fresh start when things have got a bit fraught.

Your family should have your back – but that doesn’t mean they can’t give you feedback when they think you’re making mistakes or could do better. Your parents, grandparents and siblings should be your biggest fans but also your kindest critics, and you should be the same to them. They don’t have to blindly tell you you’re right when you could do with some sound advice from people who genuinely care. Sycophants are no help to anyone.

There is no place for jealousy within a family. Celebrate your differences rather than comparing everything you have, do and are. Power struggles rarely work out well. Balance, respect and trust are a good groundwork to family life. You will get on each other’s tits at times. That’s normal. Look at the bigger picture.

Your parents are their own people with their own dreams and goals. They don’t simply exist to cater to your every whim. Imagine your parents as children, teenagers or at the age you are now. It will humanise them, and allow you to forge a more equal relationship.

Family is what you make it from what you’ve been given. You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. Sometimes relationships with relatives don’t work, or they are unhealthy, despite the shared DNA. Give it your best, but don’t become a punching bag. If you have to let go of toxic relationships for your mental health, allow yourself to, and build a family from friends who do love and care for you. Family has very little to do with blood and a whole heap to do with who told you they loved you and proved it – remember that.


Life after heartbreak

Put each other on a pedestal. Acknowledge you’re both lucky. Don’t allow yourself to feel lesser, or make your partner feel insecure because you are feeling insecure. And match energies always – it’s so important in a relationship that you feel like someone else is giving as much effort as you are. The alternative just leads to resentment and arguments.

Use little acts of kindness every day: listen to your partner’s stories (without scrolling through Instagram while they’re talking), leave romantic notes with their lunch, ask how their day was, and make sure you never stop kissing each other hello and goodbye. The little, simple things keep the big magic going.

Speak up for yourself. Don’t sit and seethe, ask for what you need, and if the shoe is on the other foot, respond well – don’t just kick off. If your partner starts a conversation with you about changes they need, be measured and open. Clear communication is key for a healthy relationship, and although hearing things about yourself that you don’t want to hear is never nice, try not to be defensive. We can all be better partners and the only way to achieve that is through open channels of communication and understanding.

Keep out the negative influencers. Safeguard your relationship from people whose opinions are not wanted: those who may be envious, or who ridicule your loved-up state of mind. Pay attention to how you feel – head, heart and gut – more than paying attention to what everyone else says.

Never forget why you fell in love with that person. It’s so easy – when you’re busy or life gets in the way and your and your partner’s schedules conflict – to not truly see them. Always make time for each other and remember why they became so special to you in the first place – we can sometimes take the people closest to us for granted when we’re rushing through life, and that is a guaranteed way to end up unhappy or alone.

This sounds really silly, but it’s important: compliment your partner. That feeling you get when someone tells you you’re beautiful, or funny, or a great mam – it’s magic. And you have the power to make the person you love light up with your kind words. So do it. Sprinkle those compliments everywhere like kind confetti and watch your partner bloom, grow and sparkle in your presence.


Looking after your mental wellbeing

Do things that make you feel okay. Look after yourself. Take a break and unwind. Remember – cherish those Number 1 Days when you can turn everything off, or turn it down, and give yourself a break.

Do a face mask and chill out while you watch your favourite childhood movie, preferably with snacks. Little luxuries like this will give you the boosts you need to get you through the week.

Jump in a bubble bath with a good book or glossy magazine – the escapism offered when you read other people’s stories, fiction or non-fiction, can help you forget about your current woes, give you some perspective, or offer a new way of looking at a problem.

Do a yoga class. The benefits of getting some endorphins flowing through your body, then letting the endorphins rush your brain, are not to be underestimated. Indeed, any physical exercise that you enjoy will help you feel better about your body, will give your brain a dash of positivity and uplift your whole day.

Meditate (if you can. No shade if you can’t because I am STILL working on that one!). It is known to lower those stress-inducing cortisol levels.

Pour yourself a glass of wine, turn up some music and have a one-person disco in your front room. Dancing is a known mood lifter, and listening to music that fills you with nostalgia for happy times is a surefire way to increase glee.

Art and craft your way to the zone-out zone: paint, write, knit, crochet, draw, take photos, press flowers (this is a type of meditation for people who can’t meditate, these hobbies can help you to zone out from the real world for a bit).

Get outside and connect with nature. Go for a walk in the park, along a river, at the seaside. Take in sunshine and fresh air. The vitamin D you get outside will help you sleep better, and all your cobwebs will blow away.


Skills for social media

Realise your power when you post. Appreciate that what you post can change someone’s day – for better or worse. You can make your social media pages incredibly beautiful and positive, inspiring and affirmative. You can share your perceived flaws, which will help someone feel better about theirs. It takes real courage to share your vulnerabilities with the world, but it’s only by speaking up that we can change negative dialogue around issues that harm us, and give others permission to do the same.

Remember there is nothing wrong with taking a step back for a day, or taking a real break, for a week or a month – because your social media interaction should not define you. And remember, you can have millions of followers on social media, and still feel lonely. Nothing beats a board game night with your family, or a good gossip in person with your girls. Never get so caught up online that you forget to actually live.

Unless you must have your phone with you for a genuine reason, try leaving it behind or away from sight when you want/need to be engaged with those around you. Ban phones during meal times, read a magazine in the bath instead, switch it off in bed after a certain point, and leave it in the hotel room one day of your family holiday so you can fully escape.

Remember – a cold, glaring phone screen cannot replace a warm hug, a shared giggle, a glass of wine with a friend, or eye-to-eye contact. Use social media to connect with friends and family, but don’t let it replace them and your memory-making moments.


Smashing your career and looking to the future

Remember you are the master of your own destiny. This is your life, and we only get one shot at it, so try and care less what other people think and do things YOUR way.

Do things every day that keep you on the right track, a track that you control at your own pace. You’re not in a race, and you don’t need to worry about who is ahead and who is behind. What are you doing for you? Keep a note of simple, small things that make each day better: are you getting enough water, moving your body, communicating with people who make you feel strong?

And just in case no one has told you this in the last twenty-four hours, remember: you’re doing great – life isn’t always easy or fun, but you’re making the most of what you have right now to build a better future.

You are powerful beyond measure, remember. You can do more than you even know you are capable of. You just need to believe in yourself – and put in some hard work.

You are the boss of your own body. You can say no, say yes, and love and value it without permission from a partner. You are also the boss of your own mind, your own goals, your own dreams – and your own timeline. You have the power.

Today can be whatever you make it. Shine bright and encourage everyone you meet to be the shiniest, best version of themselves, too. Queen behaviour right there!