Listening to My Brother’s Wisdom




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

Joanna Charnas has been a social worker for over thirty years, and currently works in the Mental Health Department of a large teaching hospital. Her first book, Living Well with Chronic Illness (MSI Press, 2015), evolved from her career experiences and years as a patient. Her second book,100 Tips and Tools for Managing Chronic Illness (MSI Press, 2018), elaborates on the numerous methods she utilizes to maximize health and wellness. To learn more about her writing, go to

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