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The good life
7:00am Saturday 13th October 2012 in NewsXtra
Positive thinking won't stop all bad things happening, but it will help you deal with life's ups and downs. As she launches her new book, Start Your Day With Katie, acid attack survivor Katie Piper shares her favourite positive affirmations and mantras.
By Abi Jackson
Today, Katie Piper is an aspiring public figure and brings hope to thousands through her charity The Katie Piper Foundation, which supports people affected by burns and scars.
This wasn't the future she'd always envisioned - five years ago, Piper was an aspiring model but a brutal acid attack in 2008 changed everything.
Though lucky to survive, Piper, who turns 29 on October 12, faced unimaginable challenges; more than 100 operations to rebuild her face and help restore some of her lost sight, not to mention the mental injuries she had to battle.
Four years on, though severely scarred, it is Piper's vibrancy and spirit which are most remarkable about her.
Of course, surgeons and medics have played their part, but perhaps the most vital element of Piper's recovery has been positivity.
"My parents were always very positive from the starts, and my best friend bought me the audio book of the self-help book The Secret when I was in hospital," Piper recalls.
"I used to do physio four times a day, and I'd listed to it in the background.
"It helped, and I became really interested in self-help and positive thinking."
People would often give Piper words of encouragement and share helpful mantras with her, which she would keep or write down in her diary.
They were a huge boost, and Piper would write them on notes around the house.
"I'd put them on my phone so they'd go off as a reminder during the day too," she says.
"It really works because the more you reinforce something positive, it sort of saturates your world."
Of course, it hasn't been easy and there were extremely dark days, when enjoying life again seemed impossible.
"I'm a big believer in faking it until you make it, and sometimes I would act positive when I didn't even really believe it, because I thought, 'Well, I'd rather spend my energy on being positive than negative'," she explains.
These days, Piper often passes on the hopeful messages that helped her to other people, and at the beginning of the year she began compiling them in a new book, Start Your Day With Katie: 365 Affirmations For A Year Of Positive Thinking.
"It was great to write this book because I wrote my memoir, which was really dark in places, then I wrote my self-help book, Things Get Better, which was really enjoyable, and to write this bedside book - one that people can return to throughout their life - was a really nice, positive experience."
Here, Piper shares 10 of her favourite affirmations from the book and explains why they're so important...
1: January 4
To reach a goal you must know what it is you want to achieve and believe in yourself that you can get there.
"I've applied this to so many things, such as setting up my charity. When I started thinking about it I thought, all I need to get to that point is belief that I'd do it, and if I believe in myself then others will. You can't expect other people to believe in you if you don't.
"I realised quite quickly that if I put a negative slant on things - saying, 'I'll never do this again, I'll never do that' - then quite often I wouldn't. It was when I told myself, 'I will do this, I will get better' that it became a lot easier."
2: April 6
Failures are milestones on the road to achievement. It is when you look back that you can see how far you've come.
"If things didn't go the way I thought they would, I'd tell myself that this is actually a good thing, as this is going to be my benchmark, the thing I look back on.
"What you need to focus on is not the falling down, but the getting back up. Even the most successful person is going to have moments where they fall down, but we can't really appreciate the success unless we have failures."
3: April 22
Laughter can offer a perspective on difficult situations, and let you see that things are often not as bad as they may seem.
"I use laughter a lot; it's one of my best medicines. Sometimes if you don't laugh, you'll cry, and though it's not always easy to laugh at the time, I guarantee that eventually you'll look back on it and be able to.
"My parents are quite positive and humorous and would try to make light of things and see the lighter side of dark situations, which helped me a lot."
4: May 19
Live every moment; make each one really count.
"At a young age I realised how short life is, and the importance of health. It's made me look at my life and appreciate things, even the mundane things.
"If there are things that I want to do, instead of thinking, 'Should I, have I got enough money, have I got enough time?', I just do it, because life is really short.
"In hospital I couldn't walk properly and couldn't see. Everybody needs to look around them and remember that we're lucky we can do things."
5: September 30
When you think there is nowhere to go but down, look up and you'll see another way.
"This one's so good for when you're at rock bottom and thinking, 'Oh god, there's nothing I can do, it's awful', there's always something. Even in our darkest moments we can find a positive aspect, but it's about looking and seeing what you want to see. I think as humans we only see what we want to see. Some people enjoy being negative and they don't look for the positive, so you've kind of got to open your eyes."
6: October 12
We are never given more than we can handle, so hold tight to the belief that you can get through anything - because you can!
"When I was really down I used to ask my mum, 'Why has this happened to me, why has God done this to me?' Mum would always say, 'It's happened to you (and it doesn't have to be religious) because God knew that you were strong enough and you could handle it'. It really made me think - nothing will be put on to us that we can't cope with. Nothing's bigger than we are. I always hold on to this."
7: October 13
If you don't have the best of everything, make the best of everything you have.
"Often we look around and compare ourselves to our peers and what they're doing and what they have, but it's important to make the best of what you have.
"You can have very little in your life but you can make the best of it, rather than aspiring to saying my life won't be complete until I have X, Y and Z."
8: October 14
No matter how far away or how close your goal, the only way you will reach it is to take the next step towards it.
"If you're focusing on something, it's only you that can get you there, so rather than just thinking about it and lusting after it, take whatever steps necessary to get closer to it.
"When I was thinking I want to get better, or I want to return to work, I realised that I had to do something to get there.
"At first I felt I was too frightened to go out ever again, or go into the working world, or out to bars, but I thought, 'I have to, I've got to do this - I am probably not going to enjoy it the first few times but I've got to do it until I enjoy it'. It's sort of tough love on yourself.
"There wasn't a defining date for when I felt comfortable going out again, sometimes it was a case of taking 10 steps forwards, five steps back, but life is a constant journey, and I'm still on that journey now."
9: December 2
The best friends are the ones who love you just as you are, whatever your situation.
"This is a really important one for me, because it showed me who my best friends were - they were with me through boring times at hospital and at home, and they're still with me now for the exciting stuff, like going to events and things. But they were always there through the tough, boring times too and that was very important.
"When things change suddenly and drastically in your life, you can lose friends as you can't always relate to the same people, or don't have things in common any more, and that can be hard to cope with, but it shows your true friends too, and that's a positive of the situation. And sometimes people you thought were just acquaintances can turn out to actually be very good friends."
10: December 24
Remind yourself of how far you've come in your journey; what you calmly do today you may have feared to attempt last week, month or year.
"It's about putting things in perspective because, before you know it, you're doing something like it's natural, which a couple of months or years ago might have seemed completely alien to you."
:: Start Your Day With Katie: 365 Affirmations For A Year Of Positive Thinking by Katie Piper is published by Quercus, priced £9.99. Available now
Tried and tested
A new cellulite oil, packed with natural plant extracts, claims to shrink thighs in as little as four weeks. Sarah Marshall puts it to the test.
What is it?
Weleda Birch Cellulite Oil claims to reduce cellulite and improve skin elasticity in just one month of regular use.
Extract of young organic birch leaves, organic rosemary and ruskus help promote radiant looking skin, while jojoba oil and wheat germ oil have a moisturising effect.
According to research by the manufacturer, average testers' thigh circumference reduced by 3.95cm, and 85% found a visible improvement in skin structure.
A catwalk favourite, the Weleda Cellulite Birch Oil has already won several awards.
What's it like?
The smell of this oil, packed with natural plant extracts, is wonderful - just like going for an early morning run through a Scandinavian forest.
I generally find oils have a greater moisturising effect than creams and this oil was no exception: smooth, silky and nourishing, it made my skin feel supple and refreshed.
But here was the real test: Could a cream literally shave inches from my thighs?
I used the oil every day for a month, patiently massaging it into problem areas, hoping I'd found a quick-fix - and a more pleasant-smelling alternative to the gym.
I'm sad to say, however, that my legs are still the same size they were four weeks ago, and my spray-on skinny jeans - an impulse purchase - are still carefully folded away in my wardrobe.
On the plus side, though, my cellulite does appear to be retreating; and I can now go out in a skirt, without leggings - weather permitting.
Besides, the divine smell of this oil alone justifies a purchase. Perhaps after another four weeks it might actually inspire me to go for a run in the woods, and those jeans may actually get to see the light of day after all.
:: Information: Weleda Birch Cellulite Oil costs £19.95 for 100ml. Available from www.lookfantastic.com