Nothing exemplifies the INPM’s mission better than the INPM’s International Meaning Conferences. This year, the conference discussions focused on the need for Existential Positive Psychology (PP2.0) during these dark times. It is still surprising to me how so many individuals from such diverse backgrounds have pondered on the conference themes, such as how to flourish through suffering, how to attain resilience through vulnerability, and how to expand mental health services beyond the medical model. It is hopeful to see how PP2.0 is being developed in the fields of psychotherapy, education, psychology research, and elsewhere.
As Drs. Paul and Lilian Wong’s assistant, during the pandemic, I have seen the expansion of PP2.0’s influence on the world firsthand. Their calendar is jammed packed with upcoming interviews, invited paper and book chapter deadlines, webinars and presentations, and meetings with collaborators. In the past, Paul commonly lamented how the insightful ideas of PP2.0 have received too little attention from mainstream media and academia, but now they have received perhaps too much attention! As readers of this Newsletter may recall, a few months ago, Paul spoke about how he was driven to exhaustion with the seemingly endless commitments. Thankfully, things are a bit less hectic now because he has established a less strenuous routine.
As a result, many projects were completed this year with Paul and Lilian’s leadership. On top of this year’s Meaning Conference, the team in Toronto (including Paul and Lilian, as well as Tim Tan and myself) have uploaded over 50 videos for the INPM YouTube Channel, as well as over 30 posts on Paul’s personal website. We have published 19 articles and commentaries for the INPM’s Journal, the International Journal of Existential Positive Psychology. With our INPM friends on the West Coast, we have sent out five INPM Newsletters, including this one. Additionally, with our colleagues, we have put together a Special Issue on Frontiers on COVID-19 and Existential Positive Psychology, featuring 48 articles from 127 authors that provide theoretical, empirical, and cross-cultural findings that support the main tenets of PP2.0. Of course, these achievements do not include PP2.0’s new allies at Harvard and Samsung.
After the past few years, I am convinced that PP2.0 provides the most adaptive and resilient foundation for positive mental health and wellbeing. Personally, I am committed to bringing the core ideas of PP2.0 to new places, where its hopeful message is desperately needed. My studies are currently focused on the end-of-life issues. I often come across people in death cafes or Facebook groups that feel despair in the face of death or are anxious about their future. Yet they have not heard that meaning and purpose could be found in death, or that there is a positive side to loneliness, uncertainty, guilt, and suffering. It seems to me that what these people need is a good dose of Meaning Therapy. And that is why I continue my journey to become a psychotherapist, to follow the trail that Wong, Frankl, and others have blazed before us.
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