Life changes, whether we like it or not. And Dr. Spencer Johnson’s disarmingly simple, but powerful book will make you reevaluate your perspective towards life from the very first page. 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. Here’s the lowdown of the book –
Smell the cheese often so you know when it is getting old
Monitor change! We often get comfortable in situations and tend to avoid new ones due to fear of the unknown. We are often oblivious to the small changes that are being made because we are so caught up in our comfort zone. Be wary of all that is going on rather than sitting back and letting life pass you by.
Humans tend to get lazy and used to old habits.
In Hem’s case, he didn’t really even deserve a lifetime supply of cheese. But over time, he got so used to his luxurious life that he convinced himself he was entitled to all these things, like a spoiled brat. This is a classic human behavior we should avoid. Keep tabs on yourself so it doesn’t happen to you.
The quicker you let go of old cheese, the sooner you can enjoy new cheese
Adapt to change quickly. Despite your fears and apprehensions, it’s important to embrace inevitable change and acknowledge it as an opportunity for growth and development. Dwelling in the past will only lead to misery and frustration, so instead focus your energy on adjusting your lifestyle and mindset to the new order of things.
When you stop being afraid you feel good
Face your fears! Our fears often make a situation undergoing change appear to be worse than it really is. Johnson’s book teaches you to take stock of each scenario and helps you to put your fears aside in order to look to the future. Conquering your fear and approaching ‘change situations’ with the right attitude can put an entirely new (and positive) spin on things, allowing you to navigate the event in a logical and rational manner.
Always stay vigilant and prepare for the inevitable.
Sniff and Scurry stayed mentally prepared for the inevitable task of finding more cheese. Hem and Haw got complacent and rooted in their old routines when they were successful already. It’s the classic story of the Tortoise in the Hare. The Hare thought he was so far ahead of his competition that he slacked off and lost the marathon. Similarly, Warren Buffett says complacency is one of the top killers of large, successful businesses.
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.