Have you ever heard of a book written by Spencer Johnson, M.D. entitled Who Moved My Cheese? It’s a tiny little book of about 97 pages, easy to read, and unforgettable. It’s not really about cheese, though. It’s about change, and the cheese is a metaphor for something that disappears, forcing those who are affected by the change to adapt.
I absolutely love that book, and I think it applies to many things in life. It certainly applies to the change called menopause. But, in that case, I guess we would call it Who Moved My Estrogen?
Who Moved My Cheese is about four little characters in a maze. Two of the characters are mice. The other two are humans. And in the middle of the maze is a big mound of cheese. Every day, these four characters wake up, go out and eat the cheese, and haven’t a care in the world.
One day, one of the mice, named “Sniff,” sniffs the cheese and notices that it’s starting to smell a bit rancid. Shocked at this change, he stands back to see the entire mound of cheese. And, low and behold, he realizes that the mound is shrinking!
“Oh, my!” Sniff exclaims. “This cheese is gonna disappear some day.” And with that, Sniff takes off and goes in search of new cheese. He foresees the inevitable. And he acts on it in advance, before it hits him over the head like a ton of bricks.
The other three creatures in the maze just keep on going through the motions: Wake up, eat the cheese, and assume things will always stay the same.
Eventually, one morning, they wake up and find that all the cheese is gone.
They’re shocked! They didn’t see this coming!
The second mouse, Scurry, says, “Oh, well, the cheese is gone. I’m outta here.” And he hits the road to go find new cheese. He hadn’t anticipated the change, but as soon as he came face-to-face with it, he wasted no time in adapting to it by leaving his comfort zone to accommodate the change.
The two little humans fume. They have temper tantrums. They stomp around screaming, “Where’s my cheese?” “This isn’t fair!” “That cheese had better come back, or else ….” They resist the change. They refuse to adapt to it
After days of stonewalling, “Haw,” one of the humans, decides that he has no choice. The cheese is gone. It isn’t coming back. And that means he must force himself to go in search of new cheese. He isn’t happy about it. In fact, he’s terrified. He’s a creature of habit. He doesn’t’ like change.
But, the way he sees it, he can either stay put and die or he can venture out and manage his new situation.
So, with angst and trepidation, he forages beyond his familiar surroundings. As he does so, he discovers new things. “Gee,” he says, “If it hadn’t been for the disappearance of the cheese, I never would have learned about any of these other things. I would have kept doing the same old thing for the rest of my life, oblivious to the fact that there are so many other options available.”
And, as Haw continues his search, he becomes more comfortable, more knowledgeable, and more excited about his future. Because he finally decided to do something productive to make the best of his new-found situation, he saved his life and actually made it better.
“Hem,” the other human stayed and stewed. He refused to budge. He had his head stuck in the sand and his feet rooted right where he stood. No one and nothing was going to force him to change. And, because of his stubborn attitude, he suffered from starvation and died.
As I said, the story is about change. And the question is, “Which of these four creatures most resembles you?” How do you adapt to change?
Menopause is change. You’re going to wake up one day and wonder, “Who moved my estrogen?” So which scenario will depict you?
Will you be pragmatic and proactive by planning ahead for the inevitable? If so, you’ll educate yourself about menopause before your estrogen disappears. That way, you’ll recognize that it’s dwindling in advance, and you’ll be able to prevent the shock of its sudden disappearance.
Alternatively, will you be instamatic like Scurry, and adapt immediately? Will you spring into action as soon as you realize that the change has occurred?
Or will you be dramatic like Haw, balking at the fact that you have no choice but to adapt, dragging your feet, dragging out the process, but figuring it out as you go along?
Or, will you be like Hem, and meet a traumatic end?
There’s no avoiding it. Your estrogen will not last forever. One day, you’ll wake up and wonder, “Who moved my estrogen?”