10 Small Habits That Can Make A Really Big Difference
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 granted…a 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.
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Different puzzle pieces are creating bigger pictures these days. 2024 will mark a milestone on a few different levels, including the release of my third book next June (yay!).
I am also a Professional Certified Coach. My main mission for attaining that particular goal is to use my formal credentials to help people navigate through the sometimes tumultuous waters, both on and offline, when it comes to information about marriage, sex and relationships that is oftentimes misinformation (because "coach" is a word that gets thrown around a lot, oftentimes quite poorly).
I am also still super devoted to helping to bring life into this world as a doula, marriage life coaching will always be my first love (next to writing, of course), a platform that advocates for good Black men is currently in the works and my keystrokes continue to be devoted to HEALTHY over HAPPY in the areas of holistic intimacy, spiritual evolution, purpose manifestation and self-love...because maturity teaches that it's impossible to be happy all of the time when it comes to reaching goals yet healthy is a choice that can be made on a daily basis (amen?).
If you have any PERSONAL QUESTIONS (please do not contact me with any story pitches; that is an *editorial* need), feel free to reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org. A sistah will certainly do what she can. ;)
Exclusive: Gabrielle Union On Radical Transparency, Being Diagnosed With Perimenopause And Embracing What’s Next
Whenever Gabrielle Union graces the movie screen, she immediately commands attention. From her unforgettable scenes in films like Bring It On and Two Can Play That Game to her most recent film, in which she stars and produces Netflix’s The Perfect Find, there’s no denying that she is that girl.
Off-screen, she uses that power for good by sharing her trials and tribulations with other women in hopes of helping those who may be going through the same things or preventing them from experiencing them altogether. Recently, the Flawless by Gabrielle Union founder partnered with Clearblue to speak at the launch of their Menopause Stage Indicator, where she also shared her experience with being perimenopausal.
In a xoNecoleexclusive, the iconic actress opens up about embracing this season of her life, new projects, and overall being a “bad motherfucker.” Gabrielle reveals that she was 37 years old when she was diagnosed with perimenopause and is still going through it at 51 years old. Mayo Clinic says perimenopause “refers to the time during which your body makes the natural transition to menopause, marking the end of the reproductive years.”
“I haven't crossed over the next phase just yet, but I think part of it is when you hear any form of menopause, you automatically think of your mother or grandmother. It feels like an old-person thing, but for me, I was 37 and like not understanding what that really meant for me. And I don't think we focus so much on the word menopause without understanding that perimenopause is just the time before menopause,” she tells us.
Photo by Brian Thomas
"But you can experience a lot of the same things during that period that people talk about, that they experienced during menopause. So you could get a hot flash, you could get the weight gain, the hair loss, depression, anxiety, like all of it, mental health challenges, all of that can come, you know, at any stage of the menopausal journey and like for me, I've been in perimenopause like 13, 14 years. When you know, most doctors are like, ‘Oh, but it's usually about ten years, and I'm like, ‘Uhh, I’m still going (laughs).’”
Conversations about perimenopause, fibroids, and all the things that are associated with women’s bodies have often been considered taboo and thus not discussed publicly. However, times are changing, and thanks to the Gabrielle’s and the Tia Mowry’s, more women are having an authentic discourse about women’s health. These open discussions lead to the creation of more safe spaces and support for one another.
“I want to be in community with folks. I don't ever want to feel like I'm on an island about anything. So, if I can help create community where we are lacking, I want to be a part of that,” she says. “So, it's like there's no harm in talking about it. You know what I mean? Like, I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change. I'm just getting better and stronger and more intelligent, more wise, more patient, more compassionate, more empathetic. All of that is very, very welcomed, and none of it should be scary.”
The Being Mary Jane star hasn’t been shy about her stance on therapy. If you don’t know, here’s a hint: she’s all for it, and she encourages others to try it as well. She likens therapy to dating by suggesting that you keep looking for the right therapist to match your needs. Two other essential keys to her growth are radical transparency and radical acceptance (though she admits she is still working on the latter).
"I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change."
Gabrielle Union and Kaavia Union-Wade
Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images
“I hope that a.) you recognize that you're not alone. Seek out help and know that it's okay to be honest about what the hell is happening in your life. That's the only way that you know you can get help, and that's also the only other way that people know that you are in need if there's something going on,” she says, “because we have all these big, very wild, high expectations of people, but if they don't know what they're actually dealing with, they're always going to be failing, and you will always be disappointed. So how about just tell the truth, be transparent, and let people know where you are. So they can be of service, they can be compassionate.”
Gabrielle’s transparency is what makes her so relatable, and has so many people root for her. Whether through her TV and film projects, her memoirs, or her social media, the actress has a knack for making you feel like she’s your homegirl. Scrolling through her Instagram, you see the special moments with her family, exciting new business ventures, and jaw-dropping fashion moments. Throughout her life and career, we’ve seen her evolve in a multitude of ways. From producing films to starting a haircare line to marriage and motherhood, her journey is a story of courage and triumph. And right now, in this season, she’s asking, “What’s next?”
“This is a season of discovery and change. In a billion ways,” says the NAACP Image Award winner. “The notion of like, ‘Oh, so and so changed. They got brand new.’ I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
"I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
She continues, “So I'm just trying to figure out what's next. You know what I mean? I'm jumping into what's next. I'm excited going into what's next and new. I'm just sort of embracing all of what life has to offer.”
Look out for Gabrielle in the upcoming indie film Riff Raff, which is a crime comedy starring her and Jennifer Coolidge, and she will also produce The Idea of You, which stars Anne Hathaway.
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If you haven’t scrolled upon Olivia McDowell's TikTok famous dinner parties, you may need to reconfigure your "For You Page."
What began as a passion for hosting aesthetically themed meals for her closest friends has quickly become a viral sensation. With an astonishing 12 million viewers, women describe Olivia’s picturesque dinner parties as the “dream girls' night,” complete with classy cocktails, beautiful table settings, elegant outfits, and, most importantly, food plated to perfection.
Seemingly reigniting the feminine urge to host fancy dinner parties, Olivia has perfected the finer details. Overlooking the skyline in her beautiful NYC apartment, she never fails to make her signature handmade pasta dishes while simultaneously looking effortlessly chic in the wardrobe of dreams while doing so.
Replying to @nara0630 what should the theme of my next dinner party be? #minivlog #nycliving #dinnerpartyideas #caviarinnewyork
What I love most about hosting intimate dinners for close friends are the connections and relationships that form over food. They don't require a caviar budget with a high-rise apartment, it just takes determination and a little creativity. Watching Olivia’s journey inspires viewers to be a part of a community of positive and uplifting women who share common interests and tastes in food, fashion, and decor. Simply stated, she’s raising the bar of friendship goals.
If you’re aspiring to host a holiday-themed dinner party this season, check out the four tips that will guide you along the way.
Choose Your Theme
Replying to @emz.life.tsv what was your fav part? 🤍 hope this gives you some inspiration to host a fancy friendsgiving too! #hostingtip #dinnerparty #pastamaking
Set the ambiance with a thoughtful theme, which will indeed be your guiding light for less stress during the planning process. Establishing a theme sets the tone for everything else to fall in place, such as menus, table design, and presentation. For example, a holiday-inspired dinner party is a perfect occasion for elegant all-white decor paired with draped table cloths, pillar candles lit atop luxe holders, floating floral arrangements, and, for a personal touch, handwritten place settings.
Utilizing free resources such as Canva for menu templates and creating a “Dinner Party” moodboard via Pinterest is perfect for gathering dinner inspiration for themes, decor, and recipes for the special occasion.
Simplify the Menu
How to host your own pasta making dinner party — part 1: pasta making from scratch 🤍 Hosting dinner parties has become my favorite thing to do this year. More goes into it than you expect, the prep, planning, guestlist, tablescape, etc. but it’s always worth it in the end. What do you guys want to see next? #hostingtips #dinnerparty #pastamaking
Don’t overcomplicate the menu. A simple dinner party formula to use as your guide to making sure your guests leave full of food and joy is appetizers, salads, entrees, sides, desserts, and beverages. As a starter, assemble an aesthetic spread that your guest can nibble on while awaiting the main course with starters such as bread, cheese, jam, nuts, and fruit. A simple salad will do, complete with a light dressing right before your entree. For a main dish, pasta recipes always go a long way and also allows your guests to interact with one another, which leads to McDowell's third dinner party hosting tip.
Include an Interactive Element
Replying to @itstai.tv 🖤 #girlhood
To break the ice and encourage guests to get to know one another, introduce interactive elements to the evening. Moments of interaction allow everyone to connect, like capturing content for social media or memorializing the essence of the night through fun Polaroids. Olivia also encourages her guests to participate in the pasta-making dinner process as a group, or if hosting a brunch, her friends indulge in building their own coffee bar as an opportunity for forming connections and conversation starters. Group board or card games are also great for laughs and healthy competition to help get the vibes flowing.
Don’t Forget the Dress code
Replying to @samantha_mendiz when all of your friends are the main character 🖤🥂 #dinnerparty #nycfashion
Tis’ the season for glamour and sparkles, so why not go all out with a super chic dress code? You can’t have a picture-perfect holiday dinner party without the coordinating attire to match. When planning, make sure to make the required attire specific yet broad enough for a range of personalities and preferences to comfortably partake while looking stunning doing so.
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