Paul T. P. Wong

Dr. Paul T. P. WongPaul T. P. Wong, PhD, C.Psych is Professor Emeritus of Trent University and Adjunct Professor at Saybrook. He is a Fellow of APA and CPA, and President of the International Network on Personal Meaning (www.meaning.ca) and the Meaning-Centered Counselling Institute. Editor of the International Journal of Existential Psychology and Psychotherapy, he has also edited two influential volumes on The Human Quest for Meaning. A prolific writer, he is one of the most cited existential and positive psychologists. The originator of Meaning Therapy and International Meaning Conferences, he has been invited to give keynotes and meaning therapy workshops worldwide. He is the recent recipient of Carl Rogers Award from Div.32 of APA and a member of a research group on Virtue, Meaning and Happiness which has just received a major research grant from the Templeton Foundation.

Dr. Wong will be giving the following keynote lecture as well as participating in the panel on Working with Meaning in Life Issues and moderating the panel on Second Wave Positive Psychology (PP2.0) for the 9th Biennial International Meaning Conference, July 28-31, 2016 in Toronto, Canada.


Keynote (Presidential Address) Title

Self-Transcendence: A Paradoxical Way to Become Your Best

Abstract

I will present empirical evidence and logical arguments that self-transcendence (ST) is a paradoxical way to achieve one’s very best and become a fully functioning human being. ST is paradoxical and counter-intuitive because, in this competitive society, self-interest always seems front and centre in our consciousness. In contrast, ST is defined as reorienting one’s way of life away from egotistic interests towards caring for others. Instead of advancing oneself, ST advocates the joy of losing oneself in the excitement of serving something greater than the self. I propose that ST is an inevitable part of all of us and it is essential for our survival and flourishing.

Empirical research has demonstrated that ST is (1) a spiritually-oriented personality trait, (2) a transpersonal state of peak experience and awe, (3) a natural aging process of moving towards generality and spirituality, (4) a basic end-value of benevolence and universality, (5) a positive affect from doing good, and (6) an adaptive product of the evolution process.

I will then provide logical arguments based on common sense, Buddhist teaching, and Christian theology. Finally, I’ll introduce Viktor Frankl’s two-factor theory of ST and illustrate how this theory can help us live a virtuous, meaningful, and happy life and, at the same time, become a fully functioning human being.

One important caveat is that ST can be either our crowning achievement or our worst nightmare. Playing god may lead to self-destruction and grandiose delusions. Using ST as an instrument to ask people to sacrifice themselves for self-gain (e.g., Hitler, ISIS) may lead to mass killing. Frankl’s antidote to the dangerous pseudo-ST is to rely on our innate conscience, ethical responsibility, and enduring objective values as a guide for the pursuit of ST.

Learning Objectives

Participants will learn

  1. The vital role of ST in our survival and flourishing.
  2. The various definitions of ST as a multifaceted complex construct.
  3. The empirical evidence supporting the benefits of ST.
  4. Logical arguments in favour of ST.
  5. Prevention of the dark side of ST.

Panel Title

Working with Meaning in Life Issues

Scheduled for Friday, July 29, 4:15 PM – 6:15 PM

Moderator

Panelists


Panel Title

Second Wave Positive Psychology (2.0)

Scheduled for Saturday, July 30, 11:15 AM – 1:15 PM

Moderator

  • Paul T. P. Wong
  • Gordon Medlock

Panelists