Who Moved My Cheese?

by; Spencer Johnson, MD

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By: Chris Hartwell, MSW

Who Moved My Cheese? Starts off with a group of friends meeting up after their high school reunion. One of the friends begins to tell the story of "Who Moved My Cheese?" and at that point the author begins to describe, symbolically, the manner in which so many people in this world deal with change in their lives.

The characters in the story treasure the cheese. The cheese is important - it means many things to them. But each character has a slightly different approach to life, and their individual approach defines what happens to them when the cheese runs out.

The cheese can be anything you treasure in life - and for some people it will just be something they're used to in life. The cheese can be a job, a relationship, an organization, or even the world we live in. The story is about how we adapt to change in our lives, and it sets out to alter our perception of change. The main character in the story, "Haw" learns to laugh at himself when he realizes that he'd made a mistake by becoming too dependent on his cheese and unwilling to move on.

Haw comes to many realizations during the story that help him move on, and he writes them on the wall as he goes. Here's the summary he writes in the end:

Change Happens
They Keep Moving the Cheese

Anticipate Change
Get Ready for the Cheese to Move

Monitor Change
Smell the Cheese Often So You Know When it is Getting Old

Adapt to Change Quickly
The Quicker You Let Go of Old Cheese, the Sooner You Can Enjoy New Cheese

Move with the Cheese

Enjoy Change!
Savor the Adventure and Enjoy the Taste of New Cheese!

Be Ready to Change Quickly and Enjoy it Again and Again
They Keep Moving the Cheese

After the story, the friends take some time to discuss its meaning. One of the most insightful parts of the narrative is when they realize that they can apply these principles to their personal lives. The author writes,

"Well," Jessica said, "most people here are talking about jobs, but as I listened to the story, I thought about my personal life. I think my current relationship is 'old cheese' that has some pretty serious mold on it."
Cory laughed in agreement. "Me too. I probably need to let go of a bad relationship."
Angela countered, "Or, perhaps the 'Old Cheese' is just old behavior. What we really need to let go of is the behavior that is the cause of our bad relationship. And then move on to a better way of thinking and acting."
"Ouch!" Corey reacted. "Good point. The New Cheese is a new relationship with the same person."
Richard said, "I'm beginning to think there is more to this than I thought. I like the idea of letting go of old behavior instead of letting go of the relationship. Repeating the same behavior will just get you the same results."

I highly recommend Who Moved My Cheese? to anyone who is struggling with change. It's a quick read at under 100 pages, and it addresses life changing principles that can greatly alter our degree of satisfaction in life.

Remember, the only constant in life, is change.

Chris Hartwell, MSW, is the Webmaster and creator of The Family & Marriage Counseling Directory.

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