The cheese, in Spencer Johnson‘s book, represents everything that we usually seek – a good job, money, home, freedom, health, recognition, spiritual peace, entertainment, travel.
Each person has their own ideas about what values are indicated by a piece of cheese. But we are similar in that, usually, having achieved our cheese, we get used to it and become attached to it very soon, and in case of loss we panic, get lost, perceive it as a blow of fate.
The book consists of three parts. In the first, there are friends who say that life does not go exactly as they imagined. As a result, they agree that we are hard at accepting changes, are afraid of the new and strive to adhere to the old principles.
In response to this, one of the comrades tells the following story.
In a magical land lived two mice and two little men – Mon and Gom. They lived in the Labyrinth (by which the book refers to the environment of our activity or place of residence, personal or social relationships that we value, or simply life in general).
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Every day they wandered through the Labyrinth in search of their cheese and once found it.
The difference between them was that the mice continued to run and explore the Labyrinth, even when they had cheese, and the little men calmed down and began to simply enjoy the cheese. They stopped getting up early, in a hurry, rested a lot, and increased the consumption of cheese. The men believed that the cheese will not go anywhere, and they are provided with them for life.
The key to happiness is owning a piece of cheese.
So they thought and boasted of cheese in front of their friends. As a result, the little men became so self-confident and self-confident that, having lost their vigilance, they ceased to notice what was happening around.
And then one day the cheese disappeared.
The mice immediately realized that if the situation changed, they also needed to rebuild. They immediately set about searching for a slice of new cheese, as they were accustomed to searching. In addition, they have long noticed that the amount of cheese is decreasing, and its quality is getting worse.
The humans were completely unprepared for the disappearance of cheese.
Therefore, at first, they began to resent. They have been looking for this cheese for so long; it was more than a livelihood for them. He meant for them everything that is understood as human happiness – possession of material goods, power, strength, health, tranquility, a sense of security, fame, strength, satiety, power over others, a villa on the seashore on Mount Camembert. They planned to build their whole future around this piece of cheese. They looked around in search of cheese, were angry, shouting that the disappearance of cheese is unfair. But all were inconclusive. They could not believe their eyes. How did it happen? No one warned them. This is someone’s unforgivable mistake! Why did this happen to them? As a result, they realized:
The More Important Someone’s Piece of Cheese, the More He is Attached to It.
At first, the little men thought that, perhaps, the next day everything would be self-correcting and the cheese would return. But nothing happened.
Over time, one of the little men gradually began to recall that recently (and he was reluctant, but noticed), the cheese slowly began to disappear. The other shouted that they had the right to their piece of cheese, that someone else was to blame, that they should receive compensation.
And at this time, the mice, not sparing their strengths, explored one corridor of the Labyrinth after another, carefully checked every corner, overcame more and more obstacles. Not being distracted for a minute, not paying attention to any difficulties, they persistently searched for their new piece of cheese. For a long time, they did not find anything. But then, in one of the distant sections of the Labyrinth, where they had not yet been, they found a huge warehouse of cheese, which was even better than before.
The little men all sat in their empty cheese warehouse, suffered from hunger, fell into despair, then into a rage, blamed each other and thought that the mice probably already found a new cheese warehouse and were enjoying it.
Finally, Mon could not stand it and began to persuade Goma to go with him in search of cheese. But Gom began to speculate about what is good and convenient here, and there they will find labor, running around and danger. Gom said that his age does not allow him to run along the corridors and “build a fool out of himself.”
Gom’s reasoning confused Mon, “he was seized with a fear of failure, he lost hope of finding at least something,” and he remained. The little men continued to sit back. Every day they came to the base, but there was no more cheese. They did not talk about bankruptcy, but everything became clear and without talking. Apathy, fatigue, insomnia took hold of the people, they became nervous, upset. Even their own house no longer seemed to them a safe haven.
Gradually they were overcome by a sense of hopelessness. The men no longer believed that they could find more cheese. Once, Gom suggested that the cheese was not gone, but located outside the walls of the base. They took out tools and began to hammer the walls. There was no cheese, but the little men continued their fruitless work.
Soon their base turned into ruins. Then Gom decided to sit and wait for the cheese to be returned to them. The humans were already exhausted, both physically and mentally. They began to realize that they might never find their piece of cheese if they continued their current lifestyle.
After a long reflection, Mon realized that no one would return the cheese to them, and went to the Labyrinth. Gom did not support him. He believed that cheese may not be anywhere, which means all this fuss is in vain. Mon tried to convince a friend, but only angered him. Then Mon laughed and went with a light heart in search of cheese.
In parting, he took a sharp stone and painted Goma a piece of cheese with the inscription:
He Who is Incapable of Change Does Not Survive.
Of course, Mon also thought a lot about his cheeseless situation, about his suspicions that there was already no cheese in the Labyrinth, or that it was impossible to find. But he also thought about how long these thoughts slowed down his actions and made him a cowardly layman. He regretted the lost time, such a late decision to start his journey in the Labyrinth again, hesitated, did not know if he wanted to stay or go into the far unknown. Again and again, Mon looked back at the old, familiar places, like a magnet attracting him with their warmth, habitability, safety, and protection from everyday adversities. He thought about a friend who was hungry, but in a warm, cozy house everything would be waiting for his piece of cheese and even envied him. He tormented himself, not knowing what to do, was afraid of the unknown. But in the end, he got together, got up and wrote goodbye on the wall in capital letters:
What could I do if there was no fear in me?
Mon realized that fear was sometimes beneficial. If a person is afraid that his affairs will go badly and begins to act, that’s good. But succumbing to fear to such an extent that it ceases to act is bad.
When Mon hit the road, he realized how much time he spent at the base in vain expectation and idleness. So much that weakened, lost weight and moving around becomes harder and harder for him. From the former agility and freshness, only memories remained.
However, he gradually gained its former form, struggled with doubts, and confidence came to him in the correctness of the decision. Of course, on the way, he met many difficulties that seemed insurmountable. Little by little, he overcame fears, prejudices, fatigue, the desire to give up everything and return to his friend. Mon understood that you could not convince Goma. He is obliged to find his way – to overcome all difficulties, fear, and doubts; to believe in the inevitability of change; find the strength to break with the past !.
Mon suffered from loneliness and hunger, but dreamed of a new cheese, found small pieces of cheese, and this increased his strength. He was mistaken several times and found abandoned warehouses, but in the end, he found a new warehouse of cheese, which was bigger and better than the previous one.
On the way, Mona was visited by thoughts, from which he made the following conclusions:
- Change is inevitable. Someone will always take the cheese.
- Change is to be expected. We must prepare because they will take the cheese.
- Adapt to change faster. The sooner we break away from the old piece of cheese, the sooner we will find a new one.
- We must carefully monitor the changes. You need to smell the cheese more often to know when it starts to deteriorate.
- Change is necessary. Go after the cheese.
- Enjoy the change. Try the charm of the adventure in search and enjoy the taste of new cheese.
- Get ready for new changes and new pleasures. Because the cheese is disappearing somewhere.
As a result, Mon realized what successes he had achieved compared to what he had. But he also understood that reassurance and inaction could instantly lead to the loss of what was achieved.
Therefore, he was actively involved in every kind of work every day: he checked the order of the base and the taste of cheese, quickly responded to every malfunction, often went to distant and still unknown places in the Labyrinth, scouting new cheese deposits. In a word, he did everything that should have protected him from any surprises.
He came to the firm conviction that it is safer and safer to live, knowing the true state of things, than to while away life in a carefree comfort, using the benefits of his wealth.
Follow the cheese and enjoy the change!
In the third part of the book, comrades discuss this story and share the experience of applying its lessons in their lives.
Why You Should Read “Who Moved My Cheese?”
- To learn to face life challenges bravely and cold-mindedly
- To not give up and hold for something you don’t really need
- To prepare yourself for life changes and obstacles
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Who Moved My Cheese? by Spencer Johnson
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