Existential Positive Psychology: A New Science Based on The Ancient Wisdom of Yin-Yang Dialectics

Image from Rhys, 2023

“Yin and yang, male and female, strong and weak, rigid and tender, heaven and earth, light and darkness, thunder and lightning, cold and warmth, good and evil…the interplay of opposite principles constitutes the universe.” – Confucius

The Yin-Yang symbol represents the essence of existential positive psychology (EPP or PP2.0) perfectly. It captures the three main existential truths of wellbeing and human flourishing:

  • Positive psychology is incomplete by focusing only on the positive (Yang) side, because it is only half of the circle, and the happy side also contains the seed of suffering, which can suddenly become the dark side (Wong et al., 2022).
  • To experience wholeness and inner harmony, one needs to navigate a dynamic and dialectic balance between opposites. Thus, sustainable happiness and wellbeing can only emerge through integrating the positive psychology of happiness (Yang) and the existential psychology of suffering (Yin). Thus, the synthesis of duality is the implicit unity or non-duality of Existential Positive Psychology (PP2.0; Wong, 2023; Wong et al., 2021).
  • To create an international positive psychology of wellbeing and global flourishing, one cannot focus only on WEIRD psychology (Wong & Cowden, 2022; Wong & Tweed, 2021).

EPP or PP2.0 is inherently multicultural because it seeks indigenous expressions of existential universals. My dependence on the ancient Asian wisdom of Taoism and Confucianism represents my attempt to integrate East and West.

In view of the above, the paradigm shift towards EPP is unavoidable and necessary, because it captures how nature works in harmony and how human beings can achieve wholeness, balance, and harmony.

This new paradigm moves positive psychology beyond the materialistic worldview and the mechanistic account of human behaviors towards a more complete account of wellbeing.

We invite the new generations of psychologists to join us and develop the new science of EPP to make this world better for individuals and society in all cultures.

EPP is the positive psychology for all seasons and for all people, especially the disadvantaged suffering masses.


Rhys, D. (2023, March 13). The real meaning behind the Chinese Yin-Yang Symbol. Symbolsage. https://symbolsage.com/yin-yang-symbol-meaning/

Wong, P. T. P. (2023). Spiritual-existential wellbeing (SEW): The faith-hope-love model of mental health and total wellbeing. International Journal of Existential Positive Psychology, 12(1). https://www.meaning.ca/…/spiritual-existential-wellbeing/

Wong, P. T. P., & Cowden, R. G. (2022). Accelerating the science and practice of psychology beyond WEIRD biases: Enriching the landscape through Asian psychology. Frontiers in Psychology. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2022.1054519

Wong, P. T. P., Cowden, R. G., Mayer, C.-H., & Bowers, V. L. (2022). Shifting the paradigm of positive psychology: Toward an existential positive psychology of wellbeing. In A. H. Kemp (Ed.), Broadening the scope of wellbeing science: Multidisciplinary and interdiscipinary perspectives on human flourishing and wellbeing (pp. 13-27). Palgrave Macmillan. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-18329-4_2

Wong, P. T. P., Mayer, C.-H., & Arslan, G. (2021). Existential Positive Psychology (PP2.0) and the New Science of Flourishing Through Suffering [Editorial]. Frontiers in Psychology. https://www.frontiersin.org/…/fpsyg.2021.800308/full

Wong, P. T. P., & Tweed, R. (2021). Positive psychology in North America. In E. C. Chang, C. A. Downey, H. Yang, I. Zettler, & M. Muyan (Eds.), The international handbook of positive psychology: A global perspective on the science of positive human existence. Springer. (Partially supported by the research grant on Virtue, Happiness, and the Meaning of Life from the John Templeton Foundation in support of the humble approach to positive psychology.)