Who Moved My Cheese?


Spencer Johnson

Hi guys! Welcome to a new semester and a new series of book reviews. I know all of us have seen our first semester results, and while some are in the deep trenches of regret, others are working out ways to make this semester better. This brings us to our first book review of the semester; a book titled “Who Moved My Cheese” by Spencer Johnson. An advice I’d give you is not to read it as a mere story, but to pick out the core values in it and use it to make all areas of your life better.
A group of old school friends is gathered for dinner and the topic of conversation gets on to change – in career, relationships and family life. One of those present contends that change no longer bothers him after having heard ‘a funny little story’ called Who Moved My Cheese?
The story involves four characters who live in a maze: the mice Scurry and Sniff, and two ‘littlepeople’, Hem and Haw. All is going well because they have found a huge source of their favourite food, cheese. Cheese here represents whatever it is you are seeking. The key point here is how the creatures react to this huge supply of cheese they had found. While Sniff and Scurry still wake up early to go to the supply and still check all other areas in the Maze for change that may have occurred, Hem and Haw had become so comfortable that they have even moved their houses to be near the CheeseStation and it has become the centre of their lives. But they do not notice that the cheese supply is getting smaller, and are devastated when they arrive at the site one morning and find the cheese is gone.
This is where the story splits in two. Scurry and Sniff quickly accept the loss of the cheese and go off into the maze in search of other sources. The littlepeople, because they have built their lives around the big cheese, feel they are the victim of some kind of fraud or theft. Yet this only makes things worse, as their clinging on ensures that they go hungry. Meanwhile, the mice move on and find new cheese.
The fable captures well that moment after we have lost a job, done bad in a course, or lost a relationship and we believe it is the end of the world. All the good things were in the previous situation, and all the future holds is fear. Yet Spencer’s message is, instead of seeing change as the end of something and holding something worse, we must learn to see it as a beginning and holding something better. We have all been told this, but sometimes motivation is lacking. To make himself accept reality, Haw writes this on the wall of the maze: “If you do not change, you can become extinct.”
For life not to be wasted, it demands a level of risk and adventure. If you are willing to live this way, change loses its horror. In fact, the advancing person purposely creates change because the world is not currently how they would like it. What the Littlemen, Hem and Haw, discover is that breaking through your fears makes you free. Those who continually seek security, ironically, are paralyzed by the possibility that they may lose it.  Sniff and Scurry keep life simple. They didn’t overanalyze or overcomplicate things. When the situation changed and the cheese had been moved, they changed and moved with the cheese

Many might regard Spencer Johnson’s sub-100 page work as trite, but its valuable lesson is easily remembered: Do you have a ‘big cheese’ in your life that you believe will last forever?

Are you Sniff, who sniffs out the situation and sees the change early? Are you Scurry, who hurries into action? Are you Hem, who stays where he is and refuses to change, afraid of the possibilities of something out of his comfort zone? Or are you Haw, who moves with the cheese and adapts to the change?

This book is a highly recommended read with millions of testimonials from all around the world, saying how much its helped businesses, personal lives, academics., etc. And the best part about it is that it’s extremely short (for those who don’t like reading) and you can find it online in a pdf format. So, what are you waiting for? Go get New Cheese!


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