Who Moved My Cheese by Spencer Johnson Summary and Review

Who Moved My Cheese was published in 1998.  A parable written by Spencer Johnson which describes change in one’s work and life.  Who Moved My Cheese was included in the New York Times business bestseller since release and remained on the list for almost five years and spent over 200 weeks on Publishers Weekly’s hardcover nonfiction list.

When Change Happens

One of the sure things in life is change.  Each day brings a new life and a different experience for us.  But our daily routine task, from the time we wake up until the time we lay down in bed again, creates a cycle that leads us to comfort.  Such comfort creates lax and negligence in our character that make us forget that life is constantly changing.  Then when change happens, we stress out, react, complain and be beaten up.

Even if it’s hard to admit it, in school, at home and in the community we live in, we were taught to believe in following rules and sets of standards that being curious and creating change is not acceptable.  That being obedient, doing what is told and what is “right”, is the key to success and happiness in life.  The attitude of obedience and resistance to change is brought by many in their professional and personal journey in life.  That’s why it is hard for majority to handle and accept change.

Upon experiencing change, our initial reaction is to resist it.  Either because we are afraid to lose the comfort of what we currently have or the fear of the unknown.

Content: The Fable of Change

The book, Who Moved My Cheese by Spencer Johnson, is a fable that teaches an amazing way to deal with change in your personal and professional life.

Below is a short synopsis of the fable:

There were four characters; two mice named “Sniff” and “Scurry,” and two little people named “Hem” and “Haw.”  The four characters lives in a maze (which represents environment) and their activity is to look for cheese ( which represents their life’s happiness and success).

Each morning, Sniff, Scurry, Hem and Haw wear their most comfortable shoes to run and search the maze to find cheese.  They search each day until they found Cheese Station “C”.  The four were so happy and glad to have found Station “C” which is filled with cheese.  Hem and Haw, human as they were, become comfortable having found Station C.  They thought that the Cheese in Station “C” was more than enough to sustain their needs in a lifetime.  So the next morning, Hem and Haw lazily gets up every morning and walk to station “C” without their running shoes on.  On the other hand, the two mice “Sniff” and “Scurry” still eagerly runs to Station “C” to search and find their cheese.

Then one morning, as Hem and Haw lazily walks shoeless to station “C”, they’ve arrived and found it empty.  Hem and Haw became furious and angry.  Unprepared, the humans have counted on the cheese supply to be constant.  They rant at the unfairness of the situation and were mad to those who stole their cheese.  They wanted justice.  They wanted the cheese to come back but they went home hungry.  On the other hand, when Sniff and Scurry found that Station C was empty, they are not surprised. They noticed the cheese supply were decreasing, they have mentally prepared beforehand for the tough but foreseeable task of finding new cheese.  They’ve easily accepted it and moved on to search for new cheese.

The next day, Hem and Haw still walks to Station C hoping to find their cheese.  Hoping that things were the same as the past.  But they failed for the cheese was gone and will not come back.  Beginning to realize the cheese less situation, Haw proposed to search for new cheese. But Hem is dead set in his closed mindset and rejected the proposal.  Meanwhile, Sniff and Scurry have found “Cheese Station N”, a new supply of cheese.

Hem and Haw are still lacking of cheese and blame each. Wanting to change, Haw suggested once again to search for new cheese but Hem rejected it again.  He didn’t want to change, he’s already comfortable his old cheese and he’s also afraid of the unknown, the new cheese.  He just wants the old cheese to come back and he’ll be happy again.  After many days in denial, Hem and Haw remained without cheese.

One day, having discovered his weakening fears, Haw begins to laugh at the situation and stopped taking himself so seriously.  Haw realized that he should simply move on and enter the maze to find a new cheese.  While walking down the maze in search for new cheese, Haw took time to write on the walls of the experiences and lessons he’s getting in search for change, of new cheese.  Haw did it for the intention of giving a guide to his friend, Hem, just in case he finally accepts to move on and find new cheese.  First he wrote, “If You Do Not Change, You Can Become Extinct” Still fearful of his new quest, Haw wrote “What Would You Do If You Weren’t Afraid?” .  In his journey he realized and wrote down “When you move beyond your fear, you feel free.” Then one day, Haw finally found Cheese Station N and realized it was better and tastier than Cheese Station C.  Wanting to remember everything he’ve learned, he wrote to the largest wall in Cheese Station N the following Six (6) Important Lessons on Change:

  1. Change HappensThey Keep Moving The Cheese
  2. Anticipate Change. Get Ready For The Cheese To Move
  3. Monitor Change. Smell the Cheese Often So You Know When It Is Getting Old.
  4. Adapt To Change Quickly. The Quicker You Let Go Of Old Cheese, The Sooner You Can Enjoy New Cheese.
  5. Change.Move With The Cheese
  6. Enjoy Change.Savor The Adventure And Enjoy The Taste Of New Cheese


Are You Like Hem?

Even we don’t admit it, we act like Hem.  When change happens in our lives, we get angry, we blame others, we lose hope and resist change.

Start Embracing Change

The book, Who Moved My Cheese by Spencer Johnson, have helped me in coping and rising above the negative change that has happened in my life.  After reading Who Moved My Cheese , it gave me a lot of new insight on why change is good and how it can lead me to much better things.  Now as I look back, I can honestly say I’m really happy to the change that reversed my life to embrace positiveness and life live fully.


You too can create that change in your life.  If you don’t know where to start, begin having courage to embrace change by reading Who Moved My Cheese by Spencer Johnson.

Start reading Who Moved My Cheese by Spencer Johnson

You can buy a copy in Amazon.com, click here.


  1. This is simple reading which is easy to understand. When I had 3 employees read this book they could all identify who was who in the book. It is a good beginning to understanding why we resist change.

  2. Dr. Tommy Stevens says:

    Sirs or Madams;

    The above summary of “Who Moved My Cheese” is a good analysis of the book, however, the grammar is very bad. If this is a computer translation of the summary from another language into English, please run the text through an English grammar program such as MS Word’s Spelling & Grammar check. If this was originally written in English, please help this person learn to write correctly with a remedial grammar course.

  3. Hi Dr. Tommy, thanks for you honest feedback. I’ve personally wrote every word of this article, it’s not a computer translated summary. I admit, I may still need some grammatical lessons since I’m not a writer by profession and English is not my first language. But I do take classes on English grammar to improve it. I’m just glad the substance of my articles have inspired thousands of people and they didn’t mind the grammatical form.

  4. Indeed it is inspiring. It really changed my way of thinking

  5. stephen dillon says:

    You know my psychiatrist advised me to read thus book. I hope to do so eventually.

  6. thank you for sharing good read –
    personally enjoyed your style of communication as well, kept me plugged in….
    as a non neurotypical abstract thinker –
    it’s nice to pull from sources as yours to expand thinking process v/s preprogramed non thinking seen so much today!

  7. Akakpo Selorm Jerry says:

    I find this great because am like the sniff and scurry so I would just continue to adjust to change rather than complain

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