Who Moved My Cheese Summary – Book By Spencer Johnson

Change is an inevitable force in life. For some, change is both exciting and inviting; a constant way to evolve, learn new things, meet new people, and view the world from every possible perspective.

For others, change is both nerve-wracking and downright upsetting.  Some people were not blessed with the inherent personal adaptability that change can seemingly require, and these folks would benefit greatly from reading a book like ‘Who Moved My Cheese?’ by Spencer Johnson.

Summary of the book Who Moved My Cheese

Who Moved My Cheese (subtitle: An Amazing Way to Deal with Change in Your Work and in Your Life) by Spencer Johnson, is a self-help book that is told in the form of a parable. The book centers around overcoming the fear or inability to properly function as a result of a change in your life.

It aims to help any reader that may be struggling as a consequence of change, by demonstrating in the most practical terms how to overcome this fear – even learning how to adapt to, anticipate, and enjoy change.

The Parable

The parable begins with the introduction of four characters; the mice Sniff and Scurry, and two “little people”, Hem and Haw. The four characters all reside in a maze and spend their days searching out their favorite food, cheese.

Sniff and Scurry, utilize their simple yet good instincts, to navigate the maze and find food. While Hem and Haw, use their complex brains, filled with many beliefs and emotions, to search for cheese.

Life in the maze is currently excellent because they’ve all stumbled upon a great source of cheese. Hem and Haw have even moved their homes to be closer, as the cheese has become the center of their lives. However, their cumulative gluttony has caused the stash to diminish and they’re too reluctant to notice.

One morning, they discover that there is no more cheese. Hem and Haw, having become equally obsessed with the cheese, are devastated. They feel as though they are the victims of massive theft and inevitably go hungry while clinging to the emotions attached to the cheese.

On the other hand, Sniff and Scurry have quickly accepted the loss of the cheese and venture off into the maze for another source of food. Despite being momentarily upset, the mice quickly realize that nothing will change, unless they adapted and move forward. Because of their determination and intuitiveness, Sniff and Scurry find more cheese.

While Hem refuses to budge and remains bitter over their loss, a starving Haw realizes the need to venture into the maze. Though frustrated and tired, Haw continues to find bits of cheese along the way.

Soon the love of adventure begins to grow, and Haw starts leaving messages for Hem on the walls of the maze, in the hope that he will leave. Eventually, Haw finds the mice and the new stash of cheese, once again settling down and learning to live a more restrained lifestyle.

Messages of Who Moved My Cheese

Who Moved My Cheese, is filled with meaningful messages for any reader. The cheese is meant to symbolize that which we most desire in life and that brings us the most joy. In the story, the cheese for the mice is just that, a source of food. While for the little people, cheese represents food, stability, and happiness.

The Maze represents the paths in life that we choose to take, to find that which we desire. For the mice, the maze was simply a means to find their food. For the little humans, the maze was an obstacle in life that they didn’t want to have to overcome.

While the book takes a slightly obtuse way of presenting these messages, they’re incredibly applicable to anyone’s life. Johnson is highlighting the unique struggles and changes that you may face throughout life. Perhaps, for you, it’s your job or finances, or maybe, it’s your interpersonal relationships or your health. Despite these changes, you have to learn to overcome and adapt to them, to lead a productive lifestyle.

Johnson also highlights the direness that can result from overcoming the fear of change. He shows this through Hem’s individual story. In contrast, he highlights the importance of learning to expect and understand why change happens. He shows this through the mice, and their ability to realize the stash of cheese would not replenish itself. Therefore, they knew they needed to journey into the maze to find more.

Who Should/Shouldn’t Read Who Moved My Cheese

This book is designed for those people who are consistently struggling to keep up with the inevitable change in life. It’s meant as a funny, yet insightful tale, that allows you as the reader to put into the perspective of situations in your life. If you’re one of those open-minded folks that are in dire need of some advice on proper handling and expecting of changes, this book is certainly something you should read.

However, some folks are in fact, closed off to the idea of accepting change. Some are “stuck in their ways”, and reluctant to seek out help or angered by the thought of it. Others may find the idea of this parable childish or entirely redundant, as they don’t plan to adhere to the messages of the book. People in this frame of mind, probably shouldn’t consider reading this book.

Review of Who Moved My Cheese

I will preface this by stating, that I did enjoy this book. I found the way that Johnson details self-help-styled guidance throughout a whimsical story, to be oddly intriguing. Though not my usual choice of book, I was compelled by the story and all of its comparative aspects to real life.

This book was an incredibly quick read, being less than 100 pages. However, it did not lack an exemplary message for dealing with change. Regardless of who you are and your circumstances, I do believe that there is some takeaway for self-betterment that you can find in this book, especially in the case of reducing stress or anxiety brought on by change.

As previously mentioned, since it’s in the form of a story, I could see how some people may dislike Who Moved My Cheese. Some folks would probably prefer upfront and factual information, as opposed to that which was presented in this fictional story. Others, may just genuinely struggle to find the meaning behind this story that can translate to their own life – making it a frustrating read.

Should You Read The Book Who Moved My Cheese?

In conclusion, Who Moved My Cheese is both an insightful and comical tale, that provides the message of learning to properly handle, expect, and accept life’s many changes. Despite whether you find any personal life adjustments to make from this book in regards to dealing with change, I still believe it is a worthwhile book to read.

Marilyn Nissen
Written by Marilyn Nissen

Marilyn Nissen is the founder of BestSellerSummary.com, a highly reputable book summary and reviews website. With over a decade of experience in summarizing and reviewing books, Marilyn is a trusted authority in the book industry.