Existential Positive Psychology (PP2.0), Meaning Management, Meaning Research

The Role of Wu-Wei in Flourishing

New Ideas for PP 2.0 Research

Paul T. P. Wong, Ph.D.
Trent University

A “flow” state occurs when one is fully, competently engaged with a challenging task to the point of forgetting oneself and the passing of time. In contrast, a state of “Wu-Wei” is defined by two dimensions: (a) Fully focusing on the present without any task or goal in mind, and (b) in perfect harmony with what is naturally unfolding at the moment. This can take place while walking in the woods, fishing by oneself, or practicing Qi Gong or Yoga.

Wu-Wei also result in a state of self-transcendence by forgetting oneself and the passing of time, but through a different path of “action without action” and characterized by the emotion of peace and harmony (i.e., mature happiness rather than feelings of excitement). Wu-Wei is primarily situated in the default mode network of the brain.

Personally, I can accomplish more through Wu-Wei than action because most of my impactful insights and life-changing decisions came from mindful meditation or biblical contemplation. I also have experienced mature happiness through Wu-Wei rather than pleasurable activities because not only can I have a blessed time of inner peace and deep joy in communion with God, nature, and others, but surprisingly also have chaironic happiness.


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This article was drawn from: https://www.meaning.ca/isepp/rifs/