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9 Questions to ask yourself to get to know yourself better.

Updated: Dec 8, 2021

Discover the values behind what lights you up or gets you down. My answers included :|

So I found these questions in a book I was reading called "Navigating Loneliness".

It's a neat little book that covers a lot of Positive Psychology concepts, and addresses loneliness not just from an external "connecting with others" perspective, but also an internal "connecting with me" perspective.

Basically, instead of viewing loneliness as purely a bad thing or spending all our time thinking about how we can connect with others, we can also learn to embrace the times when we are alone to get to know ourselves better.

Namely, learning to reframe loneliness as a positive time of solitude instead.

Anyway, I do think that the nine questions are excellent ones and really gets you to reflect deeply on who you are as a person.

You know me by now, most of my work and life beliefs are value-centric - I believe that the road to inner peace and happiness lies in focusing and continuously moving forward to the things that really matter most.

So, find some quiet time, brew yourself a nice cup of hot tea, and try answering these nine questions for yourself:

Nine questions to connect better with yourself:

  1. What do you most love doing and why?

  2. What are you most grateful for?

  3. If you were guaranteed to succeed, what would you try? What would you have a go at doing?

  4. If you were likely to fail, what would you do anyway because you love it so much?

  5. What do you love doing so much that you often lose track of time doing it?

  6. What places do you treasure the most?

  7. What activities drain your energy.

  8. What behaviours and responses get you in trouble or annoy others?

  9. What triggers you to respond angrily or passionately? What are the values that these triggers are stepping on?

The first seven questions invites you to think more about your true loves and values. After writing them down, do think about how you can start spending more time doing the things you love, or even visit the places that you treasure most more often.

The final two questions look at the negatives we can improve on - i.e. we tend to show the bad sides of ourselves in response to people annoying us, especially when you face people who tread all over our values.

This little soul searching activity is a nice little way to get to know yourself more intimately, and might even help you to realign your life according to your values.

So go ahead, and if you're interested, here are my responses to these questions too :)

1) What do you most love doing and why?

The number one answer for me is spending time with my wife and two dogs.

I love the lazy Sunday afternoons we spend together at a dog-friendly café, chatting and reading through brunch, or the weekday evenings on the couch watching a show together while scratching our dogs' little bellies.

I adore the long walks we take through big fields of green, and running my Shiba until she finally gets tired.

I also really love being around people in a positive way - be it through volunteering, meeting people who want to chat, doing sports together and even working through their struggles together.

Otherwise, in my own quiet time, nothing beats listening to music (indie, shoegaze, rock) and settling in with a quiet book. I love reading sci-fi, fantasy, Japanese fiction and psychology books.

2) What are you most grateful for?

My wife who's stuck with me through thick and thin. She's seen the best and worst sides of me, especially when I went through a depressive relapse.

I'm also very grateful that I've been able to pivot my life from a rather self-centered one, into a life where I am able to be the good in other people's lives.

Very grateful for the second opportunity.

3) If you were guaranteed to succeed, what would you try? What would you have a go at doing?

Wow. This is tough one.

Probably writing a fiction book, perhaps something in the style of Haruki Murakami. I do really enjoy his books and the way most of the books focus on little "slices of life", rather than a central plot.

It is the little moments that we live, such as right now.

There are a few stories that are living in my head right now. One's about a little corner coffee shop in Singapore where people can drink a special coffee and be able to summon, just for a few moments, someone who has passed on. It's a short story format about different people working through regrets or guilt of the their past.

4) If you were likely to fail, what would you do anyway because you love it so much?

Darn! You know what, it's actually the same answer as above.

I'd still like to write a book and to at least get those stories out of my head and give them life. For that matter, I'd still love to continue writing in this blog, just for the sake of being able to write.

Hmmm, what defines failure in this case? That no one reads it? Heck yes then, I'm totally okay with that (hello is anybody there?)

Otherwise, I maintain the hope of being able to take part in a long-distance open sea swimming marathon one day. The idea of swimming in a vast ocean and just trying it out before I get too old speaks to me. Doesn't matter if I don't finish!

Wait, if I don't finish then how am I going to get back to shore?

5) What do you love doing so much that you often lose track of time doing it?

Definitely reading and writing.

It's a good thing because it helps me get into a state of Flow - it's kind of like when you're "in the zone" and time melts away. You just get totally absorbed into it and emerge later feeling really happy with yourself and accomplished.

It's also a bad thing because sometimes I get so absorbed at a book that when I check the time, it's like 2AM and I don't want to put the book down.

6) What places do you treasure the most?

About five minutes away from home, there's a huge, green field with a little hill right in the middle. A long canal marks the other end of the field, separating it from the residential enclave that sits behind it.

I love taking my dogs there in the morning or in the evening. Sometimes, when I go early enough, we are the only living beings there (besides insects and what not).

We sit atop the little hill, with my two dogs lying down on the grass next to me. It's one of the reasons why I'm happy to live where I am.

Outside of Singapore, I hold a special place in my heart for Korea and Japan. I first travelled there when I graduated from University. I went on a solo trip starting from Japan, taking the shinkansen while making stops along the way at Kobe, Osaka, Kyoto, Hiroshima, and all the way to Fukuoka.

There I took a boat across to Busan, made an unplanned trip to Jeju Island, and then made my way into Seoul.

This was my first ever solo trip, and travelling alone helped me to open up myself to new people, drop my defenses and embrace the vulnerability of being a stranger in a foreign land.

As a little story for another time, I met a slightly younger guy on a quiet road in Busan who I still keep in touch with and. everytime he calls me he starts with "hyung!" He took me for out for meal, we climbed a mountain together, and decided to go to Jeju Island the next day.

As a funny fact, in Jeju, we got invited by two random girls to join them at their table for dinner. For some reason I still don't fully understand, my friend was worried they would ask us to pay for their dinner. So while they were in the bathroom, he suggested we pay our own bill and then dash the heck out of there.

So we did.

Unfortunately, being a little drunk, he left his mobile at the dining table and we sheepishly had to return back to the girls. And pay for their dinner.

Life is strange and I'll leave those little stories for another time.

7) What activities drain your energy?

Simple. Being in noisy places, especially ones where people are talking loudly.

I'm totally okay with music concerts and the like, just for some reason I can't tune out the sounds of too many conversations happening at once.

Otherwise, I am an introvert. Going to gatherings are fun, but it takes a while for me to recharge afterwards.

8) What behaviours and responses get you in trouble or annoy others?

Definitely ones that I act on impulse, especially when I'm annoyed with a person or get upset with myself.

For example, I once wrote an email at work to tell off a senior director I was working with.

He treated people terribly and often thought purely of his own agenda. I wrote a long harsh email pinpointing the different, unscrupulous things that he had done and the lack of respect he showed others, while CC-ing a whole bunch of my colleagues.

I got a nice clap on the back from my colleagues, but also a pretty bad scolding from my boss after.

Haha. No regrets.

There were times I've regretted though - especially the times when I got annoyed and reacted too harshly to the people that triggered it.

These were ones that would cause me to lie awake in the middle of the night, wishing I hadn't done so.

9) What triggers you to respond angrily or passionately? What are the values that these triggers are stepping on?

Just like the above, they are mostly people-oriented. I can probable drill it down to a few types of people:

  1. Those that use and manipulate others for their own selfish agenda.

  2. People who are inconsiderate towards others, e.g. talking loudly in public, playing noisy music in a quiet park, rushing into an elevator before others can get out.

  3. People who treat others unfairly, e.g. Folks that cut queues, people who make premature assumptions or judge me unfairly, people who only know how to criticise but don't see that they are doing the very same thing.

Yeah, I definitely respond negatively to people who step on my values - in the case of the above, my values of being kind and good to people.

I now recognise that these are not values that everyone has or owns. Expecting everyone to be kind is pretty much impossible, while there's also that angle that they themselves might be going through some turbulence.

I mean, I'm not always kind and good either right?

We do slip up at times, so I've learned to forgive.

It is part of being kind too.

Anyway, that's my speil on these nine questions. It's a brief and simple activity to get to know yourself better and understand your values - i. e. the qualities of being that matters most to you. I cannot tell you enough how important it is for each of us to be aware of our own values.

It does pave the way to living a life that is healthier and happier, and one that is less impacted by negative people or negative emotions for that matter.

So what are my values? I reckon:

  1. Kindness and helping others

  2. The beauty of nature

  3. Connecting with my loved ones

  4. Simply having fun!

Do try it out folks. And I hope you have fun too :)

Thanks for reading Kaya Toast for the Soul. I'd love to hear how you answered these questions. Do share them with me at Take care!

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