Thursday, February 09, 2006

What you can learn from cheese

For Christmas, I bought all of our church staff the book, Who Moved My Cheese, by Spencer Johnson, M.D. The book is a simple parable that reveals profound truths about change and how we can and how we should deal with it in our lives. There are four main characters in the book who all live in a maze and who spend their time looking for cheese. Two of these characters are mice named Sniff and Scurry. The other two are mice-sized people named Hem and Haw.

“Cheese” is a metaphor for what you want to have in life whether it is a good job, a loving relationship, money, a possession, health, or peace of mind. The “maze” symbolizes where you look for what you want and speaks of things like your place of employment, your family, or the community you live in. In the story, the characters are faced with unexpected change . . . someone has moved their cheese from where they have come to expect it to be. Eventually, one of them deals with the change successfully and writes what he has learned from the experience on the maze walls. When you come to understand these lessons you discover how to properly deal with change so that you can enjoy less stress and more success. The lessons written on the walls of the maze are:
  • Having Cheese Makes You Happy
  • The More Important Your Cheese Is To You, The More You Want To Hold On To It
  • If You Do Not Change, You Can Become Extinct
  • What Would You Do If You Weren’t Afraid?
  • Smell The Cheese Often So You Know When It’s Getting Old
  • Movement In A New Direction Helps You Find New Cheese
  • When You Stop Being Afraid, You Feel Good
  • Imagining Yourself Enjoying Your New Cheese Leads You To It
  • The Quicker You Let Go Of Old Cheese, The Sooner You Find New Cheese
  • It Is Safer To Search In The Maze, Than Remain In A Cheeseless Situation
  • Old Beliefs Do Not Lead You To New Cheese
  • When You See That You Can Find And Enjoy New Cheese, You Change Course
  • Noticing Small Changes Early Helps You Adapt To The Bigger Changes That Are To Come.

Through this story we learn the following steps in handling change in our lives:

  • Realize that change will happen
  • Anticipate the changes that might take place
  • Monitor change as it occurs
  • Adapt to change as quickly as you can
  • Choose to change yourself
  • Choose to enjoy the change as it happens
  • Be ready to change quickly and enjoy it again and again!

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