Healing and Flourishing through Meaningful Living: something unusual and significant is happening in Toronto, quietly and under the radar, but it won’t be for long, until this heart-warming story catches national attention.

Every other Sunday afternoon and Tuesday evening, people from all walks of life gather at the residence of Dr. Paul T. P. Wong for regular Meaningful Living Group Meetup.

Participants come from all ethnic backgrounds and different walks of life: Graduate students, retirees, mental health professionals, entrepreneurs, accountants, engineers, and stay-home moms.

Some members have cancer or mental health issues. A few are going through difficult life transitions. But they all come for the same purpose— healing their inner emptiness, overcoming personal predicaments, and leaning how to live a more meaningful and rewarding life.

Dr. Paul Wong, an internationally known positive psychologist, starts each session with an engaging talk on a topic related to the universal quest for meaning, such as Who am I? How can I find happiness? How can I achieve my life goals? His lectures are informed by latest research in positive psychology as well as insights from existential psychology and philosophy. Lectures outlines and exercises are all posted online (www.inpm.org) so that participants are prepared before the Meetup.

After the mini-lecture, Dr. Lilian Wong, a psychotherapist, leads the group discussion. Often, the discussion feels like a group therapy session, when individuals disclose their personal struggles and past hurts. But most people simply want to gain some insights and evidence-based knowledge about meaning and happiness; they also want to experience an authentic way of relating.

Refreshments are served at the end of each group meeting. Then participants mingle and socialize, either one-on-one or in small groups in various rooms.

They keep on coming because they have found a less traveled road to healing and flourishing. One participant says, “It feels like heaven on earth to be able to celebrate life together and help each other to grow.”

In less than 3 months, more than 70 “meaning partners” have registered for www.meetup.com/Toronto-Meaningful-Living-Group/. Requests have come from other parts of the world to start Meaningful Living Group Meetups. Prof. Wong’s vision is to spread this grassroots mental health movement across the globe to create a healthier and happier world .

“The mental health needs in the post 9/11 era are great,” Paul Wong observed, “These needs cannot be met by the medical establishment alone. We need preventive measures and psychological interventions that accentuate on human strengths and the potential for positive change.”
“The best part of what we are doing to improve the mental health thru meetup groups is that it is free,” said Dr. Wong, who has been giving positive psychology away to 30 years through Positive Living Newsletters, Forums, Meaning Conferences, Guided Life Review groups, and recently Meaningful Living Group Meetups.

In order to duplicate the success of the Toronto-Meaningful-Living Group in other cities in Canada, Wong plans to train many group facilitators and leaders skilled in meaning-centered counselling.

“A rare opportunity for receiving this training is the INPM Summer Institute on August 19-20 at the Multi-Faith Centre at the University of Toronto,” says Prof. Wong. For more information and registration details, please visit http://www.meaning.ca.

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