who moved my cheese summary

Book Summary: Who Moved My Cheese? by Spencer Johnson

The Book in Three Sentences

In this summary of Who Moved My Cheese? you’ll learn about a short story where mice look for cheese in a maze. The story is a metaphor, cheese represents what you want (a good relationship, money, health, and so on) and the maze represents the place where you look for those things (a community, family, or corporation). This summary teaches you how to better prepare for the changes ahead, adapt, and suffer less.

Who Moved My Cheese? Summary

Who Moved My Cheese? is a parable about four characters who live in a maze and look for cheese to be happy. Two of them are mice named Sniff and Scurry and the other two are small people named Hem and Haw. Cheese is a metaphor that represents what you want in life and the maze is the place where you look for those things.

The mice used instinct and trial-and-error to look for the cheese they liked. The people used their brains to look for the cheese that would make them happy or successful. Soon, they all found a place that had a lot of cheese in it and developed a routine around the food. The little people got comfortable with this routine. They felt secure and this security eventually turned into arrogance. One day, they all got to the station and realized that there was no more cheese. The mice weren’t surprised and instinctively started looking for more food. The little people were surprised and unprepared which made them mad. Although they were smarter than mice, they didn’t act that way.

While the mice found a new station with cheese, the little people went to the cheeseless station every day. When the little people came back to their houses, they brought their worries and frustrations with them. They denied the situation, couldn’t sleep, didn’t have energy, and became angry. The little people decided they were going to work harder. They were active, but not productive.

Hem became afraid and angry, so he wouldn’t listen. Haw, on the other hand, decided to leave, thinking about the path that led him there. He soon started missing the familiarity and comfort of the cheeseless station, but he liked the fear of venturing into the unknown, so he kept going. Haw knew he had to adapt in order to change. He was in control instead of letting things happen to him.

Meanwhile, Hem realized he could have foreseen the cheese disappearing, but he resisted change. When he felt demoralized, he thought of all the cheese he could find out there. He was letting go of the old in order to embrace the new. He found little pieces of delicious cheese and he regained some strength. Haw eventually decided to go on his own. He realized cheese wasn’t the only thing that made him happy, he was also happy when he wasn’t afraid. Haw changed his beliefs and this changed his behavior yet he regretted not dealing with change sooner. The little mouse found pieces of cheese which gave him strength and confidence.

Haw found cheese and the mice welcomed him. He thought about what happened. Haw changed when he was able to laugh at himself. He let go and moved on. Haw also envisioned something better, he used the mistakes of the past to plan his future. Unlike the little people though, the mice had a simple life. They didn’t overanalyze and overcomplicate things. As the situation changed, they changed with it. 

To conclude this summary of Who Moved My Cheese? keep your life simple, adapt fast, be flexible, and let go of your fears. You have to find your own way. No one can do it for you.

Further Reading

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