Our Father's plan for us is often referred to as ''the great plan of happiness,'' but we sometimes struggle to feel as happy as we'd like. Are there really some simple things we could do to feel happier? You may not have thought that such suggestions as ''Don't even try to get motivated to exercise'' and ''Stop hoping to find friends'' would show up in a book on happiness, but those are just a couple of the ''habits of happiness'' Dr. Wendy Ulrich invites readers to consider. This perfect blend of scientific research, engaging anecdotes, and practical advice that you might not have expected can help you discover new ways to feel a little better about life.
I'm Wendy Ulrich, a psychologist and founder of Sixteen Stones Center for Growth, LLC, a group of mental health professionals committed to building the emotional and spiritual resilience of LDS women and their loved ones (see sixteenstones.net).
I received my Ph.D. from the University of Michigan and an MBA from UCLA, then for many years I was part of private practice in Ann Arbor, where my husband Dave and I raised our three children. Because he is a professor at the University of Michigan, we had the flexibility to trade off school, work, and childcare when our children were young, giving me the rare privilege of giving birth to our third child in the middle of finals week at the end of my first year as a doctoral graduate student (not recommended).
My latest book, "Let God Love You: Why We Don't; How We Can," addresses the question many of us ask: why don't I seem to feel God's love as personally as I'd like? For many, the answer has less to do with our worthiness and more to do with our skill with closeness, our history with attachment, and even our experience with trauma. Self-assessment tools, stories, and opportunities for self-reflection will help you better understand where you are in your relationship with God, and how you can heal and grow toward deeper closeness.
The Temple Experience: Passage to Healing and Holiness," was in the works for over two decades. Seeing the LDS temple as a place of healing and self-discovery has been an important insight and an important personal process for me. It is less a book about understanding the temple and more a book about understanding ourselves, but I hope readers will also gain a deeper appreciation of the power and majesty of these sacred rites.
My first two books, "Forgiving Ourselves: Getting Back Up When We Let Ourselves Down," and "Weakness is Not Sin: The Liberating Distinction That Awakens our Strengths," come out of the long experience with the impact of self-blame in people's lives. While sometimes self-blame is definitely warranted, many of us tend to cling to it far beyond the point of being constructive or truthful. While there are a lot of books on forgiving others, when I started writing "Forgiving Ourselves" (Deseret Book, 2008) I could not find a single book on this important topic.
Later, Dave and I decided to collaborate on a book called "The Why of Work: How Great Leaders Build Abundant Organizations that Win" (McGraw Hill, 2010). Mind you, the last time we collaborated on a major project I ended up sick to my stomach for several months, gained 40 pounds, endured demanding labor, and gave birth to a 13-pound child. Needless to say, I was a little leery about this new collaborative venture. Indeed, working with Dave on "The Why of Work" has yielded many of the same outcomes as our last collaboration, including nausea and weight gain! But our new brainchild has also been a very meaningful joint project.
The Why of Work pushed me to consider what gives meaning to my life and my work. At the top of that list are relationships with our children, grandchildren, and dear friends. A close second would be communicating ideas that have an impact on people's resilience and well-being through speaking, training, and writing.
On a more personal note, I love power tools and woodworking projects. I hope some of the things I write about can be powerful tools for others in finding meaning, self-acceptance, and a deeper sense of purpose in life.
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