To open or not to open

This Christmas, the hubs and I received a really meaningful present from a friend, the founder of Solve n+1, a Singapore organization that is passionate about representing and strengthening communities.

The present came in a beautifully designed paper box that unfolded to reveal 6 questions that hoped to foster deeper and more heartfelt conversations between people. Although the box contained a metal can that cheekily opened up to a pack of (gummy) worms, I thought that hardly took away the focus of the 6 questions.

Its introduction went like this: “Attempting to talk about the deeper things in life can feel like opening a can of worms, and maybe getting through what emerges in conversations can feel tough and chewy. But hey, with a little courage and vulnerability, we might find a pretty sweet experience in the end.”

And so, I made use of these wonderful questions to reflect on the year 2020 with the hubs on a special child-free date. The questions were as follows:

  1. What was the most painful thing for you in 2020? Acknowledge it.
  2. Describe a dream that has come true. Remember it.
  3. In the coming year, what do you hope or fear might happen? Articulate it.
  4. Do you feel like you lost something this year? Grieve it.
  5. What did you find unexpectedly in 2020? Appreciate it.
  6. Name something that recently brought you joy. Celebrate it.

Although we did recall our painful moments and express our fears, what I remember most from the conversation was that we recounted the many blessings and blessings-in-disguise we experienced through the year. The questions, interestingly, do trigger a narrative of looking for the hidden gems in your transitions and down moments, bringing you back to unexpected moments that gave you warmth.

And that is the way conversations should be. Conversations that can hold the “tough and chewy” stuff, while at the same time build up the gold in each person. But such conversations are not common, because of the insecurities that build walls around people. Nevertheless, I would like to encourage you to have these conversations with the people you can trust, as you will go one step further in deepening that human-to-human connection.

And, if you really cannot find that one safe human being to connect with any time soon, start the conversation with yourself first. Who knows? You might just discover something new about yourself!

Credit goes to the team behind this wonderful community project that aims to build more meaningful connections and conversations. You can learn more about them at

4 thoughts on “To open or not to open

  1. Oh these are such good questions that parents can have teenagers! Many times when I work with parents with teenagers, parents find it a challenge to talk with their teenagers and connect with them. So these are the questions I am going to share with the parents and hopefully they’ll be courageous to do it with their teenagers. Thanks for sharing!

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