10 Small Habits That Can Make A Really Big Difference

Big changes typically come from the "little" steps that we take.


OK. Who remembers India.Arie's song "Little Things" from back in the day? If you do, you probably can recall the line in it that says, "In the quest for fortune and fame, don't forget about the simple things". Indeed. Sometimes, in the quest to live out our absolute best life ever, we forget that it really is the little moves that make up the big impressions along the way.

That's the inspiration for this article today. No matter what it is that you want to improve upon or make better in your world, if you apply small habits like these to your life, you might be blown by how BIG of a difference they can make—to you and ultimately, to those around you too.

1. Pull an “Issa” in Your Mirror Every Day


Anyone who's an avid watcher of Insecureknows that a signature scene that has been happening, ever since season one, is Issa looking into the mirror and talking—sometimes in the form of rapping—to herself. While it is funny to watch, if you look deeper, she is oftentimes doing it in order to gain clarity, hype herself up or to make a big decision.

In the psychology world, a technical term for this is "external self-talk". The reason why you shouldn't "feel crazy" for doing it is because talking to yourself can be a practice in self-affirmation. It can help you to blow off stress and steam. Talking to yourself is also a cool way to hold an impromptu forensics debate between your feelings and your common sense (which aren't always one and the same), if you're trying to look at the pros and cons of a particular situation. The list of benefits really does go on and on.

So yeah, when you get up every morning, encourage yourself to talk to yourself. You might get the confidence and/or answers that you seek, if you do.

2. Tell Someone What You Like/Love/Appreciate About Them


I used to find myself in the position of feeling taken for granteda lot. Some of it had to do with codependency. Some of it had to do with poor boundaries. Some of it had to do with putting people into the "friend" category long before they deserved it or moving them into a level that they weren't worthy of (check out "Always Remember That Friendships Have 'Levels' To Them"; you might wanna read "7 Signs Your Friendship...Actually Isn't One" too). So, what broke me out of the pattern? Some self-love. Some prayer and meditation. Some journaling. Oh, and also becoming totally unapologetic about my primary love language (words of affirmation) and accepting the fact that people who truly value me will not only show appreciation because "words are my thing", but because they want to keep me around; they don't want me to feel taken for granted. Ever.

Making sure that others feel appreciated has levels to it, just like friendships do. But I can promise you that, when you take a moment to tell someone what you like, love or appreciate about them, not only will it do wonders when it comes to (further) establishing confidence and trust in their connection with you, it can make them feel good about looking out for you in return. Besides, a wise person once said, "If you don't show appreciation to those who deserve it, they'll learn to stop doing things that you appreciate." There are a lot of people in my relational rearview window who can probably attest to that, chile. For real, for real.

3. Do Something Nice. Anonymously.


Motives. I'm big on motives (the Bible is too: "We justify our actions by appearances; God examines our motives."—Proverbs 2:12[Message]). That said, it's one thing to do something nice for someone and then post it for all of the world to see. But if you really want to know if you're doing something, and that it is totally for the right reasons, without it having absolutely anything to do with you, do it anonymously. You know, there's a verse in Scripture that basically says that if we do things for applause, applause is all that we will get. But if we decide to do things "secretly", it will be God who rewards us (Matthew 6:1-2). The something that you do doesn't have to be anything big. Maybe put your co-worker's favorite snack on their desk or mail your friend something from Etsy and ask for only a gift receipt with no name to be attached. Listen, no one said that playing Secret Santa had to be reserved for Christmas (although you might wanna call it something else). The seeds that you plant into someone's life, solely for benefit alone, are ones that you can feel the best about—and know that the Most High totally has your back on.

4. Eat Something Raw Every Meal


Eating fruits and vegetables when they are in their rawest form makes it possible for you to get an optimal level of nutrients from them. In fact, many nutritionists say that if you commit to eating at least one raw fruit or vegetable each meal, within a month's time, you will notice that your skin is clearer and you've got a lot more energy. As a bonus, you help to reduce the risk of heart disease (which is currently the leading cause of death in Black women) too. As far as what food qualifies, pretty much any fruit or veggie goes. Just remember that it needs to be cleaned with water and that's pretty much it. Anything "extra" is gonna take the food out of its purest form which means you will lose some of the potency of its vitamins and minerals as a direct result.

5. Drink an Extra Glass of Water


Here's something that's crazy. 75 percent of Americans are not only dehydrated butchronically dehydrated. And since our bodies are made up of more than 60 percent water, I'm pretty sure you can see how that can cause real health issues. If you don't get enough fluids into your system, not only can it cause dry mouth, fatigue and dizziness but, over time, it can also lead to kidney problems, low blood volume and even seizures. If you're already intentional about drinking 8-10 glasses of water a day, that's awesome. But I'm pretty sure that more than a few of us fall into the "75 percent" category. You've got to crawl before you can walk so, do yourself a favor and ease into drinking more water by committing to a glass more a day for a week and then doubling that by the end of the month. I'd be shocked if your body doesn't feel a thousand times better after you do.

6. Read a Chapter of a Book Each Day


While you can't really go a day without reading something (because most of us are online all day long, in some capacity), what I'm referring to here is leisure reading (which can help to relax you) or checking out something that will truly benefit you like an educational or spiritual book or maybe even something that is self-help related.

If you set aside 30 minutes a day to do a little bit of reading, not only can it help to calm you, it can also stimulate your mind, expand your vocabulary, make you a better writer (and all around communicator), improve your level of focus and concentration and, even make you a more empathetic individual (especially if it's literary fiction).

I know life is hectic, but we've all got time for what we want to make a priority. For so many reasons, reading on a daily basis can only benefit you. Fit it into your schedule. It'll totally be worth your while.

7. Take a Morning or Evening Walk Outdoors


Aside from the fact that indoor air pollution is as much as 2-5 times worse than the pollution that is outside (especially if you rarely open up your windows), there are quite a few benefits that come from taking a stroll outdoors every day. If you walk outside in the daytime, it will help you to get more Vitamin D into your system (something that we, as Black women, are oftentimes deficient in). Walking outside can also keep your joints and muscles from getting stiff, can release endorphins to improve your mood, can help to decrease health risk issues like type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure, can make it easier to digest your food and, it's also a great way to lower anxiety levels. So, whether you opt to do it alone, with your boo or maybe with a friend or neighbor, start or end your day by walking outdoors. Your health can only get better if/when you do.

8. Discuss/Debate in Question Form


People can be so freakin' defensive these days. Don't get me started on how I think that social media and the narcissism of it all plays a direct role in that. It's like, unless you are feeding someone's ego, by constantly agreeing with them or telling them what they want to hear, they feel attacked. While that is certainly NOT your problem, interacting with individuals is pretty much unavoidable too. Something that I've learned to put into practice is, when I'm in a potentially challenging discussion or debate with someone, is I try and pose my responses in question form. For instance, rather than hearing something that I know is wrong (because I have data to back it up or because it's based on an assumption), instead of quipping, "You're wrong", I will say, "Why do you think that?". Not only does it take the edge off of my own tone and potential attitude but, more times than not, it prevents the other person from going on the defensive so that some progress can be made in communication. Sure, it's an extra mental step, but if you want to keep harmony with others, it can be worth the additional effort. Trust me.

9. Review the “High” and “Low” of Your Day


Back when I used to mentor teenage girls (and sometimes their boyfriends), something that I would ask them to do is to share the high and low that they experienced since the last time we saw each other.

We live in a world that tends to lean so much on the side of negativity that, for one thing, it helps them to see the brighter side/silver linings in life. Plus, when you think about the best and worst things that have transpired, on a consistent basis, it helps you to see that life is quite the balancer. Not everything is bad. Not everything is good. But, if you really take a moment to put the best and worst into their proper perspective, it can be easier to see how they might be working together to make you a better person, in ways that you didn't quite expect until you actually thought them through.

This is why I also incorporate this exercise with my clients. If you take out a moment, every day, to think about your peak high and low, it can make that day make (more) sense. It can also make preparing for the next day, a lot easier to do.

10. Keep Your Phone Out of Your Bedroom at Night


Earlier last year, I wrote an article for the site entitled, "8 Solid Reasons To Put. Your Phone. Down." If you take a few moments to check it out, you'll see why being plugged into the Matrix—I'm sorry, your smartphone—can actually do more harm than good, if you're not careful. This is especially the case when it comes to bedtime. Aside from the fact that your mind needs time to decompress from all of the information that it already received throughout the day, looking at the light on your phone's screen can make it very difficult to fall back to sleep once you look at it (like when you get up to pee, for instance). And sleep deprivation isn't good for you. Not by a long shot. I say it all of the time, because it will forever be relevant—your bedroom should be set aside for sex and sleep. No more, no less. So, do your mind, body and spirit a favor and either put your phone in another room or turn it off at night. Whatever is happening inside of it will be awaiting you in the morning. Tackle it all—then.

Want more stories like this? Sign up for our newsletter here to receive our latest articles and news straight to your inbox.

Featured image by Shutterstock

Before she was Amira Unplugged, rapper, singer, and a Becoming a Popstar contestant on MTV, she was Amira Daughtery, a twenty-five year-old Georgian, with aspirations of becoming a lawyer. “I thought my career path was going to lead me to law because that’s the way I thought I would help people,” Amira tells xoNecole. “[But] I always came back to music.”

A music lover since childhood, Amira grew up in an artistic household where passion for music was emphasized. “My dad has always been my huge inspiration for music because he’s a musician himself and is so passionate about the history of music.” Amira’s also dealt with deafness in one ear since she was a toddler, a condition which she says only makes her more “intentional” about the music she makes, to ensure that what she hears inside her head can translate the way she wants it to for audiences.

“The loss of hearing means a person can’t experience music in the conventional way,” she says. “I’ve always responded to bigger, bolder anthemic songs because I can feel them [the vibrations] in my body, and I want to be sure my music does this for deaf/HOH people and everyone.”

A Black woman wearing a black hijab and black and gold dress stands in between two men who are both wearing black pants and colorful jackets and necklaces

Amira Unplugged and other contestants on Becoming a Popstar

Amira Unplugged / MTV

In order to lift people’s spirits at the beginning of the pandemic, Amira began posting videos on TikTok of herself singing and using sign language so her music could reach her deaf fans as well. She was surprised by how quickly she was able to amass a large audience. It was through her videos that she caught the attention of a talent scout for MTV’s new music competition show for rising TikTok singers, Becoming a Popstar. After a three-month process, Amira was one of those picked to be a contestant on the show.

Becoming a Popstar, as Amira describes, is different from other music competition shows we’ve all come to know over the years. “Well, first of all, it’s all original music. There’s not a single cover,” she says. “We have to write these songs in like a day or two and then meet with our producers, meet with our directors. Every week, we are producing a full project for people to vote on and decide if they’d listen to it on the radio.”

To make sure her deaf/HOH audiences can feel her songs, she makes sure to “add more bass, guitar, and violin in unique patterns.” She also incorporates “higher pitch sounds with like chimes, bells, and piccolo,” because, she says, they’re easier to feel. “But it’s less about the kind of instrument and more about how I arrange the pattern of the song. Everything I do is to create an atmosphere, a sensation, to make my music a multi-sensory experience.”

She says that working alongside the judges–pop stars Joe Jonas and Becky G, and choreographer Sean Bankhead – has helped expand her artistry. “Joe was really more about the vocal quality and the timber and Becky was really about the passion of [the song] and being convinced this was something you believed in,” she says. “And what was really great about [our choreographer] Sean is that obviously he’s a choreographer to the stars – Lil Nas X, Normani – but he didn’t only focus on choreo, he focused on stage presence, he focused on the overall message of the song. And I think all those critiques week to week helped us hone in on what we wanted to be saying with our next song.”

As her star rises, it’s been both her Muslim faith and her friends, whom she calls “The Glasses Gang” (“because none of us can see!”), that continue to ground her. “The Muslim and the Muslima community have really gone hard [supporting me] and all these people have come together and I truly appreciate them,” Amira says. “I have just been flooded with DMs and emails and texts from [young muslim kids] people who have just been so inspired,” she says. “People who have said they have never seen anything like this, that I embody a lot of the style that they wanted to see and that the message hit them, which is really the most important thing to me.”

A Black woman wears a long, salmon pink hijab, black outfit and pink boots, smiling down at the camera with her arm outstretched to it.

Amira Unplugged

Amira Unplugged / MTV

Throughout the show’s production, she was able to continue to uphold her faith practices with the help of the crew, such as making sure her food was halal, having time to pray, dressing modestly, and working with female choreographers. “If people can accept this, can learn, and can grow, and bring more people into the fold of this industry, then I’m making a real difference,” she says.

Though she didn’t win the competition, this is only the beginning for Amira. Whether it’s on Becoming a Popstar or her videos online, Amira has made it clear she has no plans on going anywhere but up. “I’m so excited that I’ve gotten this opportunity because this is really, truly what I think I’m meant to do.”

The daily empowerment fix you need.
Make things inbox official.

Today is Malcolm X’s birthday. As an icon of Black liberation movements, his words are often rallying cries and guideposts in struggle. In 2020, after the officers who executed Breonna Taylor were not charged with her murder, my timeline was flooded with people reposting Malcolm’s famous quote: “The most disrespected person in America is the Black woman. The most unprotected person in America is the Black woman. The most neglected person in America is the Black woman.”

Keep reading...Show less

As her fame continues to rise, Tiffany Haddish has remained a positive light for her fans with her infectious smile and relatable story. Since Girls Trip, fans have witnessed the comedian become a modern-day Cinderella due to the many opportunities that have come her way and the recognition she began to receive.

Keep reading...Show less

We’ve all been there: Exhausted, lacking motivation, on edge, or simply not feeling like working at all. And we might have even used up all of our sick days, not to rest from a cold or injury, but just to get a bit of relief from those job or business responsibilities. Sometimes, you're not able to shake that nagging feeling of gloom, eventually finding yourself in a toxic pattern of unhealthy habits and behaviors. There's a larger issue that goes way beyond just needing a break.

Keep reading...Show less

CultureCon is one of the top conferences for creative people of color to attend to meet fellow changemakers. The event, which is presented by the Creative Collective NYC, has attracted some of our favorite entertainers as keynote speakers such as Tracee Ellis Ross, Chloe x Halle, Michael B. Jordan, and many more.

Keep reading...Show less
Exclusive Interviews

Exclusive: Jay Ellis Shares ‘Full-Circle’ Moment With His Parents & His Self-Care Ritual

Staying grounded is one of the actor's biggest priorities.

Latest Posts