Book Review – Who moved my cheese ?

In this article, I would like to share with you the summary of the book -Who moved my cheese? – and my opinion about it. This book describes typical ways of dealing with a changing circumstances, and inspires reader to take action rather than being stuck in the status-quo due to fear or overanalyzation.

Summary of the story

In a maze were two mice, Sniff and Scurry, and two little people, Hem and Haw. These little people were as tall as mice, but had more complex brains and emotions. The maze was a labyrinth of corridors and chambers. Four of them were looking for cheese in the maze using their own strengths. Sniff and Scurry relied on trial and error whereas Hem and Haw relied on complex brains and emotions.

One day, they finally found a massive chunk of cheese at the end of a corridor in Cheese Station C. Everyone was elated on the serendipitous discovery at first glance. However, there was a striking distinction between the attitude of the mice and the little people. Sniff and Scurry did not change their hectic routine of looking for a new chunk of cheese. In contrast, Hem and Haw became satisfied with the cheese in Cheese Station C, and eventually settled down there. They took the cheese for granted and built their home next to it. In the wake of the completion of their new dwelling, ‘’Having Cheese Makes you Happy’’ was drawn on a wall , and they were completely engulfed in a sense of accomplishment.

However, the blissful life with the cheese did not last long. The cheese disappeared out of blue. Having noticed it in the morning, Sniff and Scurry immediately left the station for another chunk of cheese lying somewhere else in the maze. Actually, it was not surprising to them because they kept inspecting the area every day, and had been aware that the cheese was shrinking.

It was not until the evening that the lazy little people noticed the disappearance of the cheese. ‘’Who moved my cheese ? ‘’ resonated Hem’s loud voice in the maze. The incident was unacceptable to him as he believed that his effort in the past deserved an endless supply of cheese. He kept screaming in vain, which was not very attractive or productive. However, it was at least understandable in the face of the shocking event. Indeed, the cheese had a spiritual value to him. It had been the symbol of well-being.

Hem and Haw kept ranting and raving at the injustice of the vanished cheese, and eventually got depressed imagining ‘What would happen if the cheese wasn’t there tomorrow?’ They felt their entire life plan, based on the endless supply of cheese, was destroyed unfairly. They wished it was a mistake and kindled a little hope that the cheese would come back in the following day. The next morning, with eager anticipation, they confirmed that their cheese was no longer there.

Hem started to analyze the situation to figure out the cause of the event. His attitude was that of  claiming his entitlements of a blissful life with the cheese rather than accepting and adapting to the changing circumstances. He was in no doubt that the missing cheese had to be compensated for, as he believed it was not his fault. On top of that, as a man with a sophisticated brain, he believed he could come up with the better solution than Sniff and Scurry who had already left for other cheese.

A number of arguments arose between Hem and Haw. Hem adamantly refused to accept the status-quo, while Haw imagined Sniff and Scurry might have already found other cheese. Initially, the scary nature of the maze occupied the mind of Haw. It was full of uncertainty and there might be no cheese in any cheese stations. However, after a while, optimistic images emerged in his thoughts where two mice were relishing a delectable chunk of cheese at another station. This nearly nudged him to venture out into the maze for another cheese. However, the fear of the maze captivated his mind again, and Haw could not take a step forward for several days.

Finally, Haw grew tired of the cheeseless situation and Hem’s stubborn streak in believing that their cheese would be brought back by someone. Then, Haw soon began to contemplate the nature of fear. Sometimes some fear can be good. It is not good when it keeps someone from doing anything. Steeling himself with the attitude that it was better late than never, and Haw left cheese station C.

Haw was already exhausted and lethargic due to days of starvation and the contemplation of every possible eventuality. He should have left earlier. Fortunately, he found several small pieces of cheese in short time and realized that roaming around the maze was not as scary as he had imagined. He also admitted that no one moved the cheese in cheese station C. It had grown smaller and smaller over several days. The arrogance of Hem and Haw blinded their eyes, and that was the reason they did not notice the situation of the diminishing cheese.

A couple of days later, Haw reached a new cheese station and his heart was filled with joyful expectation. He associated small pieces of cheese in front of the station as the sign of a gigantic cheese inside. Unfortunately, this expectation did not come true. Seemingly, two mice had already arrived at the place and the small pieces were their leftovers. If Haw had left earlier than the mice, he could have monopolized the gigantic cheese.

Haw brough back small pieces of cheese to Hem, who had become emaciated due to his cheeseless life. However, Haw’s generous offer was rejected. Hem was of the opinion ‘’ This is  not my cheese. I want my cheese! ‘’. Haw realized that he could not persuade Hem, and that Hem had to change his belief by himself.

During the next adventure, Haw was convinced that it was safer to search in the maze than remain in a cheeseless situation. Then, a question occurred to him ‘what was he most fearful of ?’. He pondered that he might have been afraid of taking action alone rather than tacking the labyrinth of corridors and chambers in the maze.

At the end of this story, Hem reached cheese station N where a wide range of delectable, massive pieces of cheese were piled high. He found Sniff and Scurry there, and noticed their bloated bellies . He learned the lesson that there is always new cheese out there, and a challenging change could turn out to be a blessing in disguise.

My thought

This story is really insightful and encouraging. I often recall the story of Hem when I need to change my lifestyles. It helps me a lot in preventing myself from being stuck in an undesirable situation. I also like the sentence in the book ’what would you do if were not afraid?’. This question nudges me to focus on the best scenario at the crossroad of my life.

cheese cave


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