Editor’s letter: My short-cut to happiness

Earlier this week, I was in a particularly low mood. Nothing fatal, really, but just a bit of a pile-on of stresses on a Monday morning that had the cumulative effect of making me feel down. It’s horrible that feeling, isn’t it – the knot in your stomach that won’t go away, even when you try to reason with yourself that you have nothing serious to complain about. But we’ve all had those moments this year, right? Those hours (days?) of feeling stifled by a list of circumstances that are just out of our control.

After a few hours of wallowing in this low-level hum of surly sadness, I had a flash of inspiration: I remembered that one thing I do when I really need cheering up. I go through all the old photos on my phone, looking for forgotten happy memories. I did a rapid-fire scroll through the past and let my finger settle on a random snap – like my own little private tombola. And I hit a jackpot the first time, finding a picture of me with two of my friends, Kathy and Miranda, from a dark November evening in 2017. We were at a friend’s house. It was a party. Instead of masks plastered to our faces there were smiles. The picture is a tangle of limbs and heads (including a rabbit’s, I kid you not) all boshed together in a tipsy, loved-up bear hug.

I emailed it to both of them and said, ‘I’m having a rotten day so I’m looking through photos to cheer myself up. Remember this? Remember nights out? Remember hugs?’

Miranda replied: ‘Actually, it looks like you two are dragging me into your cult.’

Kathy: ‘What would the cult of Elvin involve?’

Miranda: ‘My cult would be the CULT OF NO SMALL TALK. Go bonkers or go deep.’

From there, the chat quickly descended into areas that, frankly, I’m not sure you’d want to read about with your Sunday-morning brew. But the point is, once I’d decided to change my mood, it was simple. I spent the rest of the day finding pictures I love of people I adore and sending them on. We laughed, we reminisced, we resolved to meet as soon as humanly possible. Before I knew it, the knot of despair was gone. Because, with a little help from my friends, I felt connected and loved and my heart was singing with happy memories. It made such a difference to my entire week that I wanted to tell you about it – next time you’re feeling down, do it. It’s like free happy pills.

The other thing I do when I’m feeling down? Treat myself to joyful food. And what is more joyful than Christmas food created by the one and only Mary Berry? Our gorgeous cover star has pulled out all the stops to make it a wonderful Christmas to remember – yes, in spite of everything – with her recipes. I honestly think I might cook the whole menu for Christmas Day and then repeat it all for a random January dinner, too. There’s another little free happiness tip for you. Forget life’s made-up rules. You’re welcome.

Now it’s your turn: what little things do you do to turn that frown upside down? I’d love to know.

Enjoy the issue. page2image23983424

Editor’s picks

A few things I’m coveting this week

Jilly Cooper between the coversJilly at her best. The perfect read to cosy up with. Book, £7.49, amazon.co.uk

lady garden be a lady jumperAll proceeds go to this amazing charity. Jumper, £249, ladygardenfoundation.com

hush dahlia jumpsuitSparkles and comfort for Christmas Day. Jumpsuit, £89, hush-uk.com