Listening to My Brother’s Wisdom

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My big brother, Charles, has guided me through many of life’s challenges. Often his words of wisdom are offered casually, and he’s surprised when I remind him of his tidbits of brotherly sagacity that have been my guideposts as I manage life’s large and small issues.

Once when I was about twenty years old and fussing out loud about my appearance, Charles observed, “No one will notice, and if they notice they won’t care.” This bon mot not only prevented any further worry that day, but it has also been a principle I’ve returned to for the last thirty-six years.

Most of the things we worry about are not important to anyone but us. Charles’ wisdom is always in my consciousness and has stopped me from fruitless worry countless times.


Charles has guided me through many of life’s challenges. Once during the third of a four semester graduate program, I whined to him about my heavy workload. Charles’ response: If it were fun, everyone would do it. Understanding the wisdom of his words, I immediately stopped complaining.

Sometimes we choose to take on difficult tasks, hoping for positive rewards. We diet to lose weight, we exercise to improve or maintain our health, and we read long, complex books to expand our minds and souls. No one I know read Moby Dick for fun. As I recall, it contains about forty pages on rendering whale blubber. We read Moby Dick because we were assigned it in school or because we wanted to challenge ourselves.

So when I find myself willingly taking on difficult tasks, I try to remember Charles’ wisdom and not complain. Instead I keep my eyes on the prize and my mouth shut. Thanks Charles!

Photo credit: Margaret Charnas

Joanna Charnas has been a social worker for almost thirty years. She is a licensed psychotherapist with a specialty in group therapy, and has spent over 20 years working with people with physical and mental illness. MSI Press published her book, Living Well With Chronic Illness, in 2015. She has blogged for an international health website, and you can read her weekly blog at joanna charnas.

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