A comprehensive and workable model of global well-being needs to have the following elements:
- It integrates the best ideas from East and West, ancient and modern days.
- It integrates the biological, social, psychological, and spiritual dimensions of personhood.
- It is supported by psychological research, historical research, clinical observations, and everyday human experiences.
- It is based on terms that are understandable by people from different cultures and precise enough to be tested empirically.
- It takes into account the economic, political, environmental, societal, and stress factors that are known to impact the well-being of human beings individually and collectively.
- It is consistent with universal values and human rights.
- It is flexible enough to be adopted by all nations and individuals regardless of circumstances.
Such a model requires an international team of the best researchers working together. The present paper represents my own effort to develop a model of global well-being. It is based on the cumulative experiences of four decades of international research and consistent with the above
My research on Chinese positive psychology (Wong, 2009a, 2016), tragic optimism (Wong, 2009b; 2017c), and PP 2.0 (Wong, 2011) suggests that mature happiness is derived from the spiritual and psychological maturity of discovering the sweet spot between negatives and positives.
PP 2.0 consists of PP 1.0 (Seligman, 1998), existential positive psychology (Wong, 2009c), and Chinese positive psychology (Wong, 2009a). In seeking to develop a broad and flexible framework for global well-being, PP 2.0 integrates both the East and the West, as well as the old and the new.
The main contributions of Chinese indigenous psychology to PP 2.0 includes the wisdom of yin-yang dialectics and the importance of contentment, inner peace, and equanimity to achieve enduring happiness.
I propose that the PP 2.0 framework is better able to achieve mature happiness than positive psychology as usual. I also propose that the following attitudes and values are needed to create mature happiness and a society of justice and compassion. This spiritually-oriented model of well-being may be represented by the acronym CasMac:
- Courage to embrace the dark side of human existence;
- Acceptance of the bleak reality and what cannot be changed;
- Self-transcendence to overcome setbacks and limitations in our
strivingsto make a significant contribution to others;
- Meaning-mindset as a lens to discover what is good, beautiful, and true;
- Appreciative attitude towards life and other people; and
- Compassion for all people, living things, and oneself.
In this model, courage plays a key role
This article focuses on essential courage—the courage “necessary to make being and becoming possible” (
- The courage to grow up in the face of an uncertain future and confusing demands.
- The courage to live in the face of inevitable sufferings, such as sickness, loss, or death.
- The courage to pursue your dreams or life goals despite obstacles, risks, and failures.
- The courage to do the right thing and stand up for your values in the face of threats and real dangers.
In sum, courage is not only essential for individual survival and thriving, but also for global well-being and world peace.
Lu Xun (魯迅) once said, “If there are still people who want to truly live in this world, they must dare to speak, dare to laugh, dare to cry, dare to be angry, dare to criticize, and dare to fight in this cursed place against this cursed time!” (世上如果還有真要活下去的人們，就先該敢說，敢笑，敢哭，敢怒，敢罵，敢打，在這可詛咒的地方擊退了可詛咒的時代！). In the present turbulent world and tense political climate, courage is essential to confront the dark forces and create a better world.
Finally, I present the dialectical mandala model of mature happiness, which is based on the dialectical interactions between yin-yang and self-others. This model is more flexible than the binary model (Hwang, 2011; Shiah, 2016). The present model allows an individual to benefit self and others (利人利己) simultaneously, as in the case of self-transcendence. Similarly, it also allows an individual to be both high in yin and yang, as in the case of accepting the bleak reality yet continuing to struggle towards one’s ideals.
This mature happiness depends on our ability to manage the dialectical interactions and maintain the proper balance, whatever the situation. This ability can be strengthened through self-cultivation of the four dimensions of personhood and exercising the three ironclad logics. That is, having the courage to do the right thing only when we are sure that the decision has passed three critical tests: purpose, wisdom, and conscience. According to this model, the sweet spot of optimal harmony between opposing forces is the outcome of mature happiness (安樂/安康)—an authentic, spiritual, and enduring happiness that can be sustained amid sufferings (Dambrun & Ricard, 2011; Della Fave et al., 2016; Wong, 2017c).
Whether you call it Nirvana or Heaven on Earth, it is characterized by having “a pure heart” or a positive mental state where peace, joy, hope, faith, and love reign, and ignorance, earthly desires, greed, hate, pride, and selfishness are challenged at all times. This pure heart or mature happiness will transform one’s behaviours, relationships, and environment into a happy and harmonious space.
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- Wong, P. T. P. (2009b). Viktor Frankl: Prophet of hope for the 21st century. In A. Batthyany, & J. Levinson (Eds.), Existential psychotherapy of meaning: Handbook of logotherapy and existential analysis. Phoenix, AZ: Zeig, Tucker & Theisen. (Early version available here.)
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- Wong, P. T. P. (2016). Chinese positive psychology revisited. International Journal of Existential Psychology and Psychotherapy, 6(1). Retrieved from http://journal.existentialpsychology.org/index.php/ExPsy/article/view/174/157
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- Wong, P. T. P. (2017b). Reflections on my psychology career: Where I come from, and where I am going. Dr. Paul T. P. Wong. Retrieved from http://www.drpaulwong.com/reflections-on-my-psychology-career/
- Wong, P. T. P. (2017c, May 16). Courage, faith, meaning, and mature happiness. Positive Living Newsletter. Retrieved from http://www.drpaulwong.com/inpm-presidents-report-may-2017
Wong, P. T. P. (2017, October 14). Chinese indigenous psychology and PP 2.0. Invited talk presented at the National Kaohsiung Normal University, Kaohsiung, Taiwan.