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The Topic of Change in Who Moved My Cheese by Spencer Johnson: Reflective Essay

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The great Greek philosopher, Heraclitus, once said, “There is nothing permanent expect change”. Change is an inevitable force. Whether said change occurs in one’s personal or professional life, it happens and there is no way around it. Adapting to change can be one of the most challenging tests an individual will face throughout their life. For some, change can be an enormous challenge as a result of not wanting to face their fear, move out of their comfort zones, and not wanting to lose what they have and the state they may have previously been in. For others, change is welcomed with open arms, they respond to what happens as they know change could lead to something bigger and better.

The book Who Moved My Cheese delves into the topic of change and how one ultimately adapts to it. The popular business book, Who Moved My Cheese, by Spencer Johnson explores the concept of change and identifies the many different ways one may tackle the challenging task of adapting to change. This book uses a parable that centers on the lives of the four characters; Haw and Hem (the two little people) and Sniff and Scurry (the two mice) and examines how each of them handle the change presented within their lives. Everyday in the parable Haw, Hem, Sniff, and Scurry are running through a maze (which is comparable to one’s environment) in search of cheese (the metaphor Johnson uses for what one wants to have in their life: love, money, happiness, good health, etc.). When the day comes that they finally find the cheese they are happy and return everyday. Overtime Haw and Hem become content and comfortable with the cheese that they are given and do not notice that the cheese is getting smaller. One morning when Haw, Hem, Sniff, and Scurry return to Cheese Station C they discover that the cheese is no longer there. They each react to the unexpected change differently. While Sniff and Scurry immediately accept the change and set off to find more cheese in the maze, Haw and Hem are distraught that there is no cheese and questions who moved it. Everyday after that while Sniff and Scurry continue to run through the maze in search of new cheese, Haw and Hem return to Cheese Station C in hopes of finding cheese. While Sniff and Scurry have found more cheese elsewhere in the maze, Haw and Hem refuse to accept this change and it ends up hurting them. In the end Haw realizes that he must accept this change and adapt to it or he will become extinct. Haw eventually finds more cheese, while Hem continues to deny and be fearful of the changes in his life and continues to return to Cheese Station C where there continues to be no more cheese. In the end, this book presents an interesting take on adapting to change that can be simple and relatable to readers. The tale of Haw, Hem, Sniff, and Surry ends with the message “Move with the cheese and enjoy it! The end…or is it a new beginning?”.

As the ending goes, I think the message of the parable is that change is not the end to something, but the beginning of something new. One should not automatically be fearful and skeptical of changes as it may turn out to be the best thing that could happen to one and if one denies or does not adapt to change it could end up immobilizing and killing them. When most teenagers turn 18 it is a period of celebration as one enters into adulthood and a new state of independence. At this age an individual might be graduating from high school and leaving off for college, military, or other post high school opportunities. When I was 18 I was preparing to set off to college. I was excited to begin a new chapter in my life. However, this was a period in my life where I faced my biggest and most impactful change. A few months before I was to leave for college I had my first seizure. A few days later I had another. My whole life changed a week later when I was diagnosed with epilepsy. The excitement and anticipation that was built up a few weeks prior was now overshadowed with frustration and worries and fears about what was to happen next. I had new worries and fears about the unexpected. I knew things in my life were going to change. I just did not want to face or even expect the possibility of change. I initially planned to go off to college 6 hours away from home. With my new diagnosis it just was not realistic for me to live away from my family and my doctors at a time when I was adjusting to a new lifestyle.

In the end, I learned to adapt to this unwelcomed change in my life and ended up going to college 20 minutes away from my family. At this point in my life I feel I resembled the character of Haw. At first I did not want to accept or even deal with the changes that were occurring in my life and questioned why things were changes. However, after realizing that my life was never going to go back to how it was, I adapted and made the best of the situation. In the end, things worked out better than I could have imagined. As stated in the book “when you stop being afraid, you feel good”. Oprah Winfrey said it best “the greatest discovery of all time is that a person can change his future by merely changing his attitude”. This book carries a very powerful message and ultimately forced me analyzing how I deal with change within my personal life. I initially did not think that the parable in this book would have any bearing on how I viewed my ability to handle changes until I was truly able to understand what the parable was intention to represent. I struggled to find the author’s intended meaning when first reading it. However, after rereading the book three separate times and mirroring the discussion at the end of the book with a few family and friends, I realized that sometimes I resemble a few character in the book when it comes to adapting to change. Sometimes I can be Hem and not want to accept change, as I fear it may lead to something worse. Sometimes I can be Haw and learn to adapt to change. I think I relate to Sniff and Scurry the least, as I do not tend to be able to sense change before it occurs and I certainly to do not react quickly when faced with change.

Since Who Moved My Cheese was published in 1998 it continues to be one of the best selling business books of all time. I think one of the many reasons this book has remained one of the best selling business books for over 20 years is because it is very easy to read. Readers of all ages could enjoy this book without any trouble grasping big complicated works that are frequently used in self-help books. Another reason I think it is so successful is because it is relatable. When I first started reading the book I wondered what character I most likely related to and continued to wonder up until the ending. I think many people are able to relate to this book and see they resembling a character when they are reading it.

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