Book Summary: “Who Moved My Cheese?”, Dr. Spencer Johnson

Who Moved My Cheese? Summary
Who Moved My Cheese Summary
Who Moved My Cheese? (1998)
by Dr. Spencer Johnson

A short, light-hearted parable about the different ways we respond to life’s changes and how doing so skillfully can help us find more success and happiness in our lives, by best-selling author, Dr. Spencer Johnson. (92 pages)

Paperback | Ebook | Audiobook

This book summary is part of an ongoing project to summarise ~35 books on Mindset - for more, see the full reading list.

Perfect for you if:

  • You’re going through a difficult change at home or at work.
  • You know someone who’s stuck in a rut and just can’t seem to move on.
  • You’re looking for an uplifting book you can devour in a couple of hours.

Who Moved My Cheese? Review

Who Moved My Cheese? is a short, light-hearted parable about change, by best-selling author, Dr. Spencer Johnson. It follows the physical and emotional journeys of four characters – Sniff, Scurry, Hem and Haw – as they search, find, lose and must rediscover their favourite food, cheese, in a large, twisting maze.

Johnson’s cheese is a metaphor for what you want in life – a good job, a loving relationship, money, possessions, health or spiritual peace of mind. The maze is where you look for it – the organisation you work for, the family or community you live in. And the problem is that no source of cheese lasts forever. Life changes, whether we like it or not.

Sniff, Scurry, Hem and Haw’s stories explore the various ways we all respond to this change. And though it’s disarmingly simple, Who Moved My Cheese? captures and explores powerful and resonant truths that could have been written just for you.

Its ultimate conclusion? Change is inevitable. Anticipate it, adapt to it, learn to embrace and enjoy it. Do so and you won’t just suffer less stress and unhappiness, you’ll enjoy more success and fulfilment in every part of your life and your work.

Who Moved My Cheese? is a book everyone can learn from and enjoy. It’s charming and inspiring and practical. And at just 92 pages it’s shorter than most of our daily commutes.

My verdict? I’d definitely recommend picking up the original. Its fact-light, story-heavy format also makes it perfect to devour via audio.

Whether you’re processing change or preparing for the inevitable this book will remind you that you’re not alone and that there’s light at the end of the tunnel.

For now though here’s the Who Moved My Cheese summary

Who Moved My Cheese? Summary

We all strive towards outcomes at work, at home and in our communities because we believe they will make us (or those we love) happy.

It might be a good job, a loving relationship, money or possessions. It might be better health or spiritual peace of mind.

And it can feel wonderful when we eventually get them. Those things become cornerstones in our best-laid plans for the future.

Yet life is constantly changing and sometimes it blocks (or even undoes) things we expect, feel we deserve or have worked so long and so hard to accomplish.

But because we fear starting again, looking foolish or that we might end up somewhere worse, we often don’t want to change when things begin changing around us.

We deny change has arrived or was coming. We get frustrated and start to blame others. We cling to what was, instead of what simply now is.

And the more important whatever’s-at-risk feels, the more desperately we try to hold on.

We seethe with impotent stress and vexation. We think more about what could go wrong than go right. We let our fears grow out of control then control us.

But the fact is, like it or otherwise, that the world is constantly changing. And while not all change is good or necessary it always creates new opportunities, whether we recognise them immediately or not.

That’s why it’s important to learn how to deal with change. That’s why it pays to learn how to adapt to new circumstances.

How to Enjoy Change

When change happens, the first thing to realise is that how you react is your choice. The biggest barrier to change is inside you.

The second thing to realise is that the best way to deal with change is to keep things simple, be flexible and move quickly. When change comes along simply change with it.

Ask yourself:

  1. “Where am I likely to find the best opportunities, fighting this change or embracing it?”
  2. “What could my life look like if these new circumstances led to something even better than the ones that I’m leaving?” and
  3. ”What would I do if I wasn’t afraid I might fail?”

Really reflect on your answers.

Visualise them til the details are almost tangible in your head; until you change what you used to believe.

Realise that most of your fears are irrational. Laugh at your previous folly. Let it go.

Then take action – make things happen rather than letting things happen to you. Take control – even if you worry you’ve waited too long.

Recognise that sometimes things change and they are never the same again. And if this is one of those times, that’s life!

Life moves on and if you don’t want to risk going extinct, so must you.

How to Anticipate and Adapt to Change Quickly

And the next time that times are a-changing? Reflect on your previous mistakes and don’t let those changes surprise you!

Recall that no matter how secure something feels, you should always expect change to happen.

Because when you expect change (both gradual and sudden) to happen, you’ll better monitor and anticipate it early.

And when you monitor and anticipate change early, you’ll find it easier to adapt to it quickly.

And when you adapt to change quickly you may find you even enjoy it.

And when you enjoy change you’ll learn to love testing the edge of your comfort zone; you’ll be ready to embrace change again and again when it happens.

You’ll be less stressed, less unhappy and more adaptive than those who resist the inevitable.

You’ll shift your focus from losing what once was, to gaining what might someday be.

You’ll have more time, space and energy to embrace new outcomes that may prove even better than the old ones.

And you’ll enjoy a time-tested path to more success in your life and your work.

Who Moved My Cheese? Quotes

These Who Moved My Cheese? quotes come from TANQFASTER TO MASTER‘s growing central library of thoughts, anecdotes, notes, and quotes.

“The best-laid schemes o’ mice and men often go astray”

— Robert Burns, Who Moved My Cheese?

“Life is no straight and easy corridor along which we travel free and unhampered, but a maze of passages, through which we must seek our way, lost and confused, now and again checked in a blind alley.

But always, if we have faith, a door will open for us, not perhaps one that we ourselves would ever have thought of, but one that will ultimately prove good for us.”

— A. J. Cronin, Who Moved My Cheese?

“Having Cheese Makes You Happy”

— Dr. Spencer Johnson, Who Moved My Cheese?

“The more important your cheese is to you, the more you want to hold on to it.”

— Dr. Spencer Johnson, Who Moved My Cheese?

“If you do not change, you can become extinct.”

— Dr. Spencer Johnson, Who Moved My Cheese?

“What would you do if you weren’t afraid?”

— Dr. Spencer Johnson, Who Moved My Cheese?

“Smell the cheese often so you know when it’s getting old.”

— Dr. Spencer Johnson, Who Moved My Cheese?

“Movement in a new direction helps you find new cheese.”

— Dr. Spencer Johnson, Who Moved My Cheese?

“When you stop being afraid, you feel good!”

— Dr. Spencer Johnson, Who Moved My Cheese?

“Imagining yourself enjoying your new cheese leads you to it.”

— Dr. Spencer Johnson, Who Moved My Cheese?

“The quicker you let go of old cheese, the sooner you find new cheese.”

— Dr. Spencer Johnson, Who Moved My Cheese?

“It is safer to search in the maze than remain in a cheeseless situation.”

— Dr. Spencer Johnson, Who Moved My Cheese?

“The fear you let build up in your mind is worse than the situation that actually exists.”

— Dr. Spencer Johnson, Who Moved My Cheese?

“Old beliefs do not lead you to new cheese.”

— Dr. Spencer Johnson, Who Moved My Cheese?

“When you change what you believe, you change what you do.”

— Dr. Spencer Johnson, Who Moved My Cheese?

“When you see that you can find and enjoy new cheese, you change course.”

— Dr. Spencer Johnson, Who Moved My Cheese?

“Noticing small changes early helps you adapt to the bigger changes that are to come.”

— Dr. Spencer Johnson, Who Moved My Cheese?

“The fastest way to change is to laugh at your own folly – then you can let go and quickly move on.”

— Dr. Spencer Johnson, Who Moved My Cheese?

“A change imposed is a change opposed.”

— Dr. Spencer Johnson, Who Moved My Cheese?
Arthur is a productivity coach and writer who helps top young execs and entrepreneurs be more productive, find more balance and live more meaningfully. Want to know more? Take this 2-minute quiz to discover your Productivity Quotient (PQ) and learn how to get BIG things done. Take the Quiz →
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Fatimah Batool
Fatimah Batool
27 days ago

Loved it!