Festschrift (Draft Version)

The saga of the undefeatable Paul T. P. Wong: His quest for meaning and the science of suffering

Editor: Lilian C. J. Wong

Publisher: INPM Press

© Preface

By any standard, Paul Wong is a very rare individual in terms of both his life experiences and contributions to psychology.

            As his wife, I have a unique vantage point. I have personally experienced all his noble qualities, e.g., generous, compassionate and courageous, and his foibles, e.g., intense, impatient, and blunt. I also learn first hand many things about him from his family members. For example, his parents considered him their best son, not only because he was a model child with excellent school records and always willing to help out with household chores. His sister-in-law (wife of his second older brother) called him a saint, because he washed her baby’s diapers as soon as he got off work. His upbringing has prepared him well for his adult life.

            His life in Canada has been difficult and productive, as he has documented in his autobiography (www.drpaulwong.com) and his recent paper: The Unheard Cry of a Successful Asian Psychologist (Wong, 2020). In every step of his career development, he had to overcome unbelievable obstacles that could easily destroy someone without his indominable spirit. He was fully aware of the sources of his problems: internally, his original ideas clash with the dominant view in the West, and his outspokenness offended many people unwittingly; externally, discrimination based on race, religion and his unorthodox approach to psychology – integrative, holistic and considering suffering as the foundation for wellbeing.

            Swimming against the tide, as I have witnessed how he took all his rejections and problems as challenges to grow better and stronger. Therefore, his development of the science of flourishing through suffering is based on his personal experience as much as on his research.

            This book consists of two parts: Part 1 includes several articles from colleagues and friends who are familiar with his contributions to psychology. Part 2 consists of tributes in different stages of his life.

            I strongly believe that this book needs to be published not only to honour his numerous contributions to psychology and humanity, but also to honour his life of sacrifice and self-transcendence. More importantly, we hope that this book can inspire more people to follow the narrow path of striving to make this world a better place for our children and the generations to come.

References

Wong, P. T. P. (2020, September 24). The Unheard Cry of a Successful Asian Psychologist. The Journal of Psychology: Interdisciplinary and Applied. https://doi.org/10.1080/00223980.2020.1820430

In the past few decades, Paul has contributed a substantial body of research, assessment instruments, and interventions to the field of personal meaning. Extending Viktor Frankl’s mission, Paul has pioneered Existential Positive Psychology (EPP) or Second Wave Positive Psychology (PP 2.0), which posits that we need to embrace the dark side of life and transcend suffering to survive and flourish.

A visionary leader, Paul created the INPM as home for those who are drawn to the “big tent” approach of its mission—focusing on the universal human quest for meaning and purpose—regardless of our theoretical stripes. In the same generous, ecumenical spirit, Paul has mentored many young scholars and collaborated with numerous researchers around the globe.

Over the last 20 years, Paul has honoured many individuals for their outstanding lifetime contributions to the field of personal meaning at the Meaning Conferences, which have become important events for us to gather in fellowship, share inspiring ideas and latest research findings, and explore new horizons for meaning-centered research and interventions. The Celebration Banquet at the most recent 2018 Meaning Conference was a fitting occasion to honour and celebrate Paul’s lifetime of achievements in psychology.

This celebration continues with a Festschrift, with papers impacted by Paul’s research and personal commentaries. We invite you to send a congratulatory note in writing or video (to celebration@meaning.ca) which will be posted here! Let’s celebrate Paul’s example of making this world a better place through courage, passion, and self-transcendence.

Don Laird and Christina Pettinato from Pittsburgh say happy birthday!

Dr. Lee and his students from Korea honour Paul on his birthday!

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