Why is it that even though we know change is inevitable, we still fight against it? Is it a fear of the unknown? Is it a belief that the future isn’t going to be as good? Or is that we are happy and we don’t want things to change? Perhaps it is all of those.
Change is a fact of life. Nothing ever stays the same, the seasons change, we get older, we grow in our understanding; we change our jobs, our homes, our friendships, our partners, our clothes, and our mind!
We experience change on a daily basis and it is necessary for our evolution that we flourish in this ever changing environment. Yet whilst we know change is a necessary part of life it is something we often find ourselves resisting.
A number of years ago I read a book which was recommended to me called ‘Who Moved My Cheese?’ It’s one of those books that you could read at any age but one which is so profound that it leaves a lasting impression. I certainly wish I’d been given this book as a child.
It’s a short story about four characters that live in a maze and look for cheese to nourish them and make them happy. In the story the 'cheese’ is a metaphor for what you want to have in life whether that’s money, health, love, a good job or perhaps spiritual peace of mind, and the maze represents where you look for what you want.
In the book, when the cheese is moved, one character, overwhelmed by the change, is stuck mourning the loss of the cheese while another takes a different approach, embarking on a journey, braving the maze to find new cheese. As he travels through the maze he writes the lessons he learns on the walls of the maze reflecting on his journey and also in the hope that his friend, if he braved the maze, would see them and follow him.
It’s a simple storybook but the messages within it are profound. Replace the word cheese with whatever is meaningful to you - job, money, partner, friend.....
1. The more important your [cheese] is to you, the more you want to hold on to it.
2. If you do not change you can become extinct
3. What would you do if you weren’t afraid?
4. Movement in a new direction helps you find new [cheese]
5. When you stop being afraid you feel good
6. Imagining yourself enjoying new [cheese] leads to it
7. The quicker you let go of old [cheese], the sooner you find new [cheese]
8. It is safer to search in the maze than remain in a [cheeseless] situation
9. Old beliefs do not lead you to new [cheese]
10. When you see that you can find [cheese] and enjoy new [cheese], you change course
Having experienced a number of life changes in the last six years, starting with a significant relationship ending, moving from London to Sydney, starting a new job and then my own business, gaining new friendships and losing new friendships too. As I've evolved and changed myself I’m always learning about starting over and navigating each chapter of my life.
It’s been scary ride and many times I’ve wished I could just go back to how things were, where I felt safe, where everything was familiar. But I remember reading these messages from the book helped me realise that by holding tightly to my past I was denying myself the beauty of the present moment and of course not only that but I was denying myself the opportunity of new cheese!
Change is inevitable, sometimes welcome and other times not, enter Covid 19 (which has certainly made things challenging for a small business like mine). But now when I face these moments where things happen that I haven’t wanted, I choose to remember this story, I choose to laugh and remind myself that someone must have moved the cheese and it’s time to let go and move in a new direction to find some more, perhaps a new variety that’s even tastier!
So, whether it's a new job, career or way of working that you need to consider know that the [cheese] is always going to be moved and there is more joy in accepting that than there is in resisting.
As the old buddhist saying goes. Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.