This book, written by Spencer Johnson, explores how we are affected by life’s changes and our ability to cope with them. It takes a light-hearted approach to the consequences of not adapting to change and the resulting outcomes. Symbolically, cheese represents our goals in life. During my own journey, I desired things like a fancy house, a great partner, kids, wealth, a dog as a companion, a big truck for towing a boat, a successful career, and more. These desires are natural to humans and eventually I achieved all of them and even surpassed my original expectations…
More on that later. Another metaphor in the book is the maze, symbolizing the search for desires in life and the challenges we repeatedly encounter. Reflecting on my own life’s path and analyzing specific outcomes, I can vividly perceive a maze with both correct and incorrect turns, perhaps with more wrong choices than right. Nevertheless, Johnson’s primary message is the inevitability of change.
Change affects individuals in various ways, resulting in both favorable and unfavorable outcomes. We possess the power to control our own futures and can opt for pursuing fresh prospects when our existing ones are disturbed. Although change is uncertain, it undeniably influences us in one way or another.
The sayings on the wall, which I appreciate, were written by Haw after he successfully navigated the maze and decided to embrace the challenges that come with change. The sayings include: “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!,” and finally, “Be Ready to Change Quickly and Enjoy it Again and Again.”
Being prepared for and staying aware of inevitable change is crucial. Throughout my career, I have consistently monitored trends that could impact our business because if we cannot monitor it, we cannot control it. Thus, the ability to adapt quickly is essential in order to prevent negative consequences. While embracing change may initially be challenging, the end result will be superior compared to resistance. Despite challenges that may arise due to our behavior, it is vital to continue moving forward with any change.
Our behaviors often hinder our ability to embrace change. When change is perceived, our human instincts kick in, triggering fear and preventing us from leaving our comfort zones, ultimately leading to denial. I believe resisting change and sticking to familiar ways of life is a natural human response. In Angela’s words from the book, she suggests that the ‘Old Cheese’ may symbolize old behaviors. To improve relationships, we must let go of these behaviors and adopt new ways of thinking and acting. Richard also shares a similar sentiment, acknowledging there is more to the situation than he initially thought. He prefers abandoning old behavior over ending the relationship because repeating the same behavior will yield the same outcomes. This aligns with my belief that expecting different results while repeating the same actions is akin to insanity.I saw aspects of myself reflected in each of the four characters as well.There was a time when I too had my own delightful Cheese Station C.
Despite having a high income, a loving family, and numerous possessions that came easily to me, I became complacent, arrogant, and self-centered like many entitled individuals. I failed to appreciate the blessings in my life and constantly craved more. Even when I acquired more, the desire for even more never ceased. I accumulated so much “cheese” without realizing that it could spoil or vanish at any moment. I never considered this possibility due to my busy and complicated mindset.
One day, my cheese mysteriously vanished. When I woke up, it was nowhere in sight. I felt the same disbelief as Hem and Haw, struggling to accept that this was happening to me. Denial consumed me, just like it did them. The absence of cheese was unsettling because my family depended on me to provide and bring home cheese since my wife didn’t have a job. Like Hem and Haw, I thought I didn’t deserve this fate and shouldn’t have to alter my ways. However, I soon understood that adaptation was crucial.
Despite facing personal setbacks and losing my job, I persevered and diligently searched for a new opportunity. It took some time due to my circumstances, but eventually, I found a job at a dealership in Kirkland. My decision to become a car salesman surprised others who questioned why someone with qualifications like mine would choose such a role. Unbeknownst to them, this was just another step towards finding my own success.
At the time, amidst legal issues and challenges, I refused to let fear control me. Instead, I adopted the mindset of “What would you do if you were not afraid?” Despite these obstacles, I pushed through and made it work until my one-year sentence required me to pause once again.
Following my release, I resumed my search for opportunities. Fortunately enough, I quickly found what I had been looking for and have held onto it ever since – my source of fulfillment. While the taste may be different from before, I am more appreciative of this cheese and have no complaints whatsoever.
After reading this book, I have reflected on my own experiences and discovered that, like Sniff and Scurry, I have frequently shown determination and drive. However, similar to many others worldwide, I became content and fell for the allure of superficial material possessions that held no true meaning or purpose. Furthermore, this book made me ponder the mistakes I made while navigating through life’s challenges. What confuses me is that at times, I was aware from the beginning that I was going down the wrong path. Additionally, there were several alterations – both small and significant – that added further complexity.
Some smaller changes have been made, all of which are effective and significant in some way. Another small example can be seen in my change in treatment. I enjoyed visiting Mr. Madsen and gained a lot from his advice. Additionally, I learned to listen and observe my thoughts, behaviors, and actions. After 27 years, I finally accepted certain aspects of myself and my past that I had excessively criticized myself for. In a sense, I now feel liberated because Mr. Madsen helped me confront myself directly. This has allowed me to overcome my fears and experience a newfound sense of freedom.
However, just as I became accustomed to him, someone moved my cheese.
I had to switch providers and here I am. This group is just part of my journey in finding my new cheese. So remember: Change happens. There’s nothing you can do about it. Your best bet is to try and adapt to that change. You might be afraid to try something different and that’s okay, just do your best. If you don’t embrace the changes, you’ll only harm yourself and possibly those close to you. You’ll just live in denial and never see that the grass really is greener on the other side. But once you get there, make sure to bring your mower, because you have to mow the greener grass a lot more.