Monday, October 17, 2011

Missing the Cheese? It’s Time to Move On

Have you ever felt as if you’re watching your life go by – and you’re an observer and not a participant? Maybe that’s because your cheese has moved and you haven’t.
Cheese? Yes, cheese. That’s the analogy Spencer Johnson, M.D. uses for success and happiness in his bestselling book Who Moved My Cheese?
The setting is Chicago where some friends have gathered after their high school reunion. Looking back, life hasn’t treated them quite as they expected it would. One of the friends, in talking about how his life has changed, mentions a story that made a big difference in his perspective. At the request of his friends, he tells the story of two mice, Sniff and Scurry, and two Littlepeople named Hem and Haw.
Stop right there. I know you are seriously thinking about never finishing this blog post – after all, two mice and two Littlepeople? Really? I know, it sounds strange, but keep reading.  It might help to understand that the short book, less than 100 pages, reads like a parable. The characters are imaginary, but if we’re honest with ourselves, we’ll discover there’s a little bit of each of them in all of us.
At the beginning of the story, the characters are in a maze looking for cheese. You've probably heard the expression, “the maze of life.” That’s the reality of their situation: the maze is dark and is an easy place to get lost. But eventually, they find a huge store of cheese that from all appearances, will last forever.
It doesn’t, and the rest of the story explores how the four characters deal with the disappearance. Keep in mind that cheese is what makes you happy.
Some of the characters take the situation at face value and realize that since the situation has changed, they need to change too. Others don’t want to deal with the problem and rationalize the situation. Surely the cheese will return, because after all, aren’t they entitled to the cheese?
Some are fearful of moving on, because leaving their current situation means moving away from where they are comfortable. It could mean failure: What if they don’t find new cheese?
Johnson does an excellent job illustrating how people respond differently to change and the mindset change that must occur to overcome fear.  By the story’s end, he summarizes through one of his character’s experiences what he calls “The Handwriting on the Wall” – how to make the most of change.
We all want to be successful in life. If your cheese has disappeared or is starting to get old, do something about it, because, “things change and are never the same,” as Haw discovers. “That’s life! Life moves on. And so should we.”
For more information about this book, visit

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