Tikki Tikki Tembo

Tikki Tikki Tembo

Last week, we took a family trip to the library.  Reading is one of the few activities which can temper my son’s frenetic activity.  It’s nice to add some new books to the mix of our nightly reading. There are hundreds of books from which to choose in the children’s section. I was shuffling through the stacks at random when I clutched a particular spine (pun intended) which, to my delight, I recognized as a book my mother had read to me.  This book is about two brothers. The elder son’s name is Tikki Tikki Tembo-no Sa Rembo-chari Bari Ruchi-pip Peri Pembo ("The most wonderful thing in the whole wide world"). If you happen to have a small child, prepare to have fun with this tongue twister! The younger son’s name is Chang (“Little or Nothing”).

Like most children’s books, its life lessons are up for interpretation. It is based on an ancient Chinese myth which says that parents honor their first-born sons with long elaborate names and the shortening of these names in any way shows irreverence. As the story unfolds, the younger brother with the short name falls into a well but is rescued quickly and recovers easily. The older brother falls into this same well and narrowly escapes death due to his long name! He spends too much time in the well before he is rescued, and his recovery is difficult and lengthy.

Thankfully, we don’t have to worry too much about falling into an old well in Southern California, but in our quest for good health, we may “dig our own wells” and get in over our heads! Here are two ideas which may help you rescue yourself from self-defeating habits. First, embrace pragmatism. Avoid impossible workout regimens, unsustainable diets and body cleanses that leave you unsatisfied, tired, and perhaps injured. Consider that a simple but serious commitment to walking 5 times per week for 30 minutes may be the stepping stone to improved overall health. Make a pledge to manage your health in ways that are sustainable for your particular lifestyle. We’re all different. Recognizing our diversity and keeping an open mind allow us to re-write our fitness scripts.

Second, recognize that old habits die hard. Studies on this subject produce varying results.  Does it take 7 days, 30, 60, or 90 days to truly change a habit? We may never know, but if you want to overcome negative habitual constraints, your brain must be on board. Your commitment must be genuine, not counterfeit. There is a great deal of truth in the mantra “the body achieves what the mind believes.” Challenge your mind to believe and achieve this very day.