My friends in Taiwan call me a laughing Buddha. Most of my friends comment on my happy smile. An English as a second language (ESL) school even used my photo as an example of happy smile. Does anyone know that I live with pain day and night?

Literally, I experience pain from head to toe 24 hours a day. That is how I have developed existential positive psychology that enables me to live fully and productively with abiding joy.

How many people my age (84) still work more than 8 hours a day and enjoy every minute of it in spite of the physical and mental struggles with all kinds of pains, hardships, and obstacles?

Many years ago, I had my first intimate encounter with hell and wrote an article on “To hell and back” to provide a blow-by-blow account of my struggle and triumph, which eventually led to my theorizing about a calm-based mature happiness.

More recently, I made the case that positive psychology needs to visit hell before it can teach people how to find true happiness and fulfillment.

If you want to find out how to achieve Heaven by going through Hell, I invite you to attend our Meaning Conference and find out how to be happy in the worst of times.

Meanwhile, I just invite you to do a little thought experiment: Just imagine that you are going through intense pain because of a physical injury, deep depression, or addiction withdrawal. Just ask yourself, what do you do when you are in the grips of severe pain when death seem like the only relief? Do you want to do any of the happiness-enhancing activities prescribed by positive psychology? Probably not.

The last part of this thought experiment is to confront and accept what causes you most pain with courage as an inescapable part of life. Will this counter-intuitive radical acceptance provide some relief and freedom?

I hope that my positive psychology friends would not react to this posting with the same anger and defensiveness as they do to a recent article on Positive Psychology Goes to War.

My provocative statement is actually an existential truth supported by a great deal of research and clinical observations of numerous people living with chronic pain.


  1. Coleman, J. (2021, June 14). Radical acceptance. Aeon.
  2. Singal, J. (2021, June 7). Positive psychology goes to war.
  3. Wong, P. T. P. (2008). To hell and back and what I have learned about happiness. International Network on Personal Meaning. Retrieved from
  4. Wong, P. T. P. (2021). A festival to celebrate the human spirit [President’s Column]. Positive Living Newsletter.
  5. Wong, P. T. P. (2021). Existential Positive Psychology (PP 2.0) and global wellbeing: Why it is Necessary During the Age of COVID-19. International Journal of Existential Positive Psychology, 10(1), 1-16.
  6. Wong, P. T. P., & Bowers, V. (2018). Mature happiness and global wellbeing in difficult times. In N. R. Silton (Ed.), Scientific concepts behind happiness, kindness, and empathy in contemporary society (pp. 112-134). IGI Global.


Wong, P. T. P. (2021). Positive psychology goes to hell and back.