Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to meet Professor Paul Wong, Ph.D., CPsych, Professor Emeritus of Trent University and Trinity Western University. Wong represents an interesting case of how a racial/cultural minority could achieve success in a hostile environment consisting of the systemic biases of injustice, discrimination, and marginalization. His life also epitomizes how one can experience the paradoxical truth of healing and flourishing in an upside-down world through the positive suffering mindset (PSM).

Design/Methodology/Approach: This case study is presented in two sections: a positive autoethnography written by Wong, followed by his answers to ten questions. The core methodology of positive autoethnography allows people to understand how Wong’s life experience of being a war baby in China, a constant outsider, and a lone voice in Western culture, has shaped a very different vision of meaning, positive mental health, and global flourishing.

Findings: Wong reveals how to live a life of meaning and happiness for all the suffering people in a difficult world. He has researched the positive psychology of suffering for 60 years, from effective coping with stress and searching for meaning, to successful aging and positive death. According to Wong’s suffering hypothesis and the emerging paradigm of existential positive psychology (Wong, 2021), cultivating a positive suffering mindset (PSM) is essential for healing and flourishing in all seasons of life.

Research limitations/implications: An expanding literature has been developed to illustrate why the missing link in wellbeing research is how to transcend and transform suffering into triumph. Wong reveals how this emerging area of research is still not fully embraced by mainstream psychology dominated by the individualistic Euro-American culture, and thus why, in an adversary milieu, Existential Positive Psychology is limited by its inability to attract more researchers, to test out Wong’s suffering hypothesis.

Practical Implications: This article is full of wisdom and helpful tools to enable people to achieve mature happiness and existential wellbeing even when they have a very painful past, a very difficult present, and a bleak future.

Social Implications: This paper offers new grounds for hope for all those who are injured by life, marginalized by systemic biases, or tormented by chronical illnesses and disorders. It also provides a road map for a better world with more decent human beings who dare to stand up for justice, integrity, and compassion.

Originality/Value: Meaning as reflected in suffering is according to Wong the most powerful force to bring out either the worst or the best in people. The new science of suffering shows us how we can achieve positive transformation through cultivating the positive suffering mindset, no matter how harsh one’s fate may be.

Keywords: Meaning, suffering, resilience, positive suffering mindset, mental health, autoethnography, positive autoethnography.


Wong, P. T. P. (in press). Mental health and meaning: a positive autoethnographic case study of Paul Wong. In F. Gonot-Schoupinsky & J. Carson (Eds.), Positive psychology autoethnographic case studies.