This next book review follow ups my last post (Thoughts | Spade, Bourdain, and Why We Need to Talk About This) about the importance of having more candid conversations about mental health.
“Glass Half Question” by Dan Schuck is a “children’s book for grown-ups.” It is a story Dan began telling himself as a young man, and since then, has continued to tell and refine over the years.
Dan originally intended to give a handmade version of this book to his love, Jill, on Valentine’s Day this year. Tragically, Jill passed away before he could do so, so now he is sharing it with the world.
The premise of the book is based on the age old question, “is your glass half empty or half full?”
Dan takes this question and illustrates it (both literally and with metaphors) to show how important this question is in our society. The book encourages readers to really think about their own “glass” and what they’re putting in it. Or, in other words:
Are you constantly overwhelmed with what you have going on in your life? Maybe that’s like someone trying to carrying around a glass that’s too full, so you’re spilling it everywhere. In other words, your plate is always full and you probably have a hard time saying “no” to people. Does that sound familiar?
Or maybe you’ve got the opposite problem and feel like your life doesn’t have much purpose? That’s probably an under-filled glass that’s in desperate need of being replenished. Sometimes not having enough on your plate can lead to stress as well; you begin to doubt your self-worth, wish you had more going on but don’t know where to start, or maybe you’re in this space because you’ve retreated to the opposite of an overflowing glass.
In both of these situations, there’s not much room for happiness. You’re likely in a constant state of worry that you’re doing too much or not enough. You want to please others, but that can cost your own happiness.
The book makes poignant observations that will give a reader an opportunity to pause and reflect on their own lives.
“Most of us have cracks in our glass and there is some threat that we may lose some of what we have.”
For me, I read this to mean we all have flaws and difficult experiences. Some people choose to let those moments define them and become guarded because of them; others grow from the experiences but still remain optimistic and open.
Do you understand the quote to mean something different? That’s the beauty of this book; it’s written in a way that different people will glean different things from it.
“Everyone has risk and ignoring your risk can lead to a very empty glass.”
To me, this quote resonates quite a bit. I took my definition of “empty glass” and applied it to situations where I’ve been risk-adverse.
Sometimes avoiding the risk is a good thing; other times, I wholly believe the risks are worth more than their weight in gold. An example of a good risk I’ve taken recently, is a second date I went on a few months ago. I flew across the country to hangout with a stranger who had a business meeting that coincided with my spring break from law school.
I told myself: best case, it’d be a crazy story to tell people about how we started dating. Worst case, I’d see some museums during the day and have some awkward dinners with him when he got out of his meetings at night.
Several months later, I’m glad it turned out to be the first hypothetical, but it was one of the craziest risks I’ve ever taken. I’d just gotten out of a long-term relationship and had zero idea how to date (I even apologized for being an awkward turtle on our first date because that’s how out of my element I felt). Despite all of my reservations, I took the risk…and I’m so glad that I did.
While this book might look like an ordinary children’s book (and you could totally read it to a child because it’s got great pictures and simplified text), it is anything but ordinary.
The message behind Glass Half Question is a provoking one that urges people to start talking about mental health. At the end of the day, people need to remember to focus on the balance in their own glass. You can only compare yourself to others and idealized versions of yourself for so long before it gets tiring. You only have one opportunity to live this life, so why not choose to fill your glass with positivity and lift others up in the process of doing so?
With Father’s Day around the corner, if you don’t know what to get a guy who gives everything to his family and leaves little for himself…get him this. It’s also a great gift for anyone else in your life that you want to start a conversation with about this topic, but don’t quite know how. Last, but certainly not least, this is a great book to read to/with children; it’s never too early to get them thinking about this topic.
Purchase this title — A Glass Half Empty? …or Half Full?: A Children’s Book for Grown-Ups
Proceeds from this book go to the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation, where 100% of donations for research go to research. BBRF focuses on understanding and developing treatments for mental illnesses, including: addition, ADHD, anxiety, autism, bipolar disorder, BPD, depression, eating disorders, OCD, PTSD, and schizophrenia.
For more about Dan, his work, and this book:
Book Stats: Glass Half Question by Dan Schuck
Genre-Children’s Book (for grownups)
Page Count- 46
Binding- Hardcover with color illustrations
I received this book complimentary on behalf of the author, but all thoughts and opinions in this post are my own. All photography featured in this post is my own unless noted otherwise; please seek permission before copying or reproducing the images.