Right around the time I was learning French at highschool – perhaps 15 or 16 – my father brought home a book with the strange title of
“Who Moved My Cheese?” By Spencer Johnson.
This book opened my eyes to the possibilities around me, the benefits of being proactive and curious.
After reading it I decided I’d find a way to go on exchange to improve my French.
But I was too late for the school exchange programs.
So, taking inspiration from the book, I attended an Alliance Français meeting at a local coffee shop, where I was the youngest in the room by at least half a century.
At that meeting I met a French Canadian woman, who upon listening to me express my wish to go on exchange, offered her family in Quebec to stay with.
That Christmas I spent in Trois-Rivières, Canada.
Thanks to a little book about mice and miniature humans finding their way through a maze in search of cheese, I experienced squirrels, snowmen, snow fights, ice skating and falling on my arse on frozen rivers…in short, my first white Christmas.
However, these book notes are not about “Who Moved My Cheese” they’re about Johnson’s other book “Peaks and Valleys”, which I recently discovered.
It’s a beautifully simple parable, equipping you with a toolkit to not only survive the downturns of life, but use them to thrive.
Very much like Stoicism, the main idea revolves around the fact that most of what happens to us is beyond our control.
But we have total control over what happens within us.
Peaks and Valley’s challenges me to shift perspective, ask better questions, and transform that which is within my control, and chill out about the things that aren’t.
A valuable book.