“Why do you choose to develop the positive psychology of suffering (PP 2.0)?”

Here is my brief answer to all my friends who are puzzled as to why I make my life harder by developing the positive psychology of suffering rather than joining the hit parade of the positive psychology of happiness.

I have no regrets for the path I have chosen because of my cultural and personal history, my religious beliefs, and my personal experiences (see my autobiography at www.drpaulwong.com/autobiography).

I have always considered myself a “Rocky” character in the field of psychology. Even though I have been constantly attacked by people much more powerful that I am in the ring—whether because of my original ideas, my race, or my religion—I will never throw in the towel.

All the rejections I have experienced only served to strengthen my resolve to get back on my feet and try to find a way to snatch a victory from the jaw of defeat, due to my deep conviction that history and truth are on my side.

Here are some of the thoughts that have sustained me and become important components of my existential positive psychology (PP 2.0) for all people, especially those suffering from different kinds of misfortunes.

1) Blessed are those who suffer for righteousness’ sake, as Jesus has promised. Therefore, rejoice, if you suffer defeat and persecution because you pursue the narrow path of truth as you understand it. Your joy comes from above, from all those with a kindred spirit, and from within you for being true to your core values and mission. That is the origin of my theory of mature happiness.

2) All the powerful forces against you make you work harder and search deeper, wider, and higher for a way to survive and succeed. Most of my inspirations and creative ideas have come from my darkest moments (see my book Inspirations for Difficult Times). That is my deep-and-wide hypothesis of creativity and resilience.

3) Even when you are constantly defeated in this world, you can still win in life, because a meaningful and significant life depends on remaining true to your authentic self and your higher calling to serve God and humanity faithfully with all your heart and might. There is no defeat, no failure, when you are motivated by the selfless desire to make life better for others according to the best objective criteria. This is my self-transcendence theory of meaning in life.

4) True gold fears no fire. Only the fire of suffering can purify you and make your character as strong as a foundation of rock to build a life of value and authentic happiness. This is the main tenet of my positive education 2.0.

5) Embrace suffering and express gratitude even in times of unavoidable suffering. Such a dialectical suffering mindset will not only fortify your mind against the terrors of life, but paradoxically enhance your wellbeing. This is the origin of my dialectical mindset and existential gratitude for suffering.

History will judge whether the above ideas have any value, but at least they have sustained me and enabled me to keep on fighting even when suffering from cancer at the age of 82.


Wong, P. T. P. (2019, May 14). Why I choose to develop the positive psychology of suffering (PP 2.0). Dr. Paul T. P. Wong. Retrieved from http://www.drpaulwong.com/why-i-choose-to-develop-the-positive-psychology-of-suffering-pp20/