There are two ways to live: You can live as if nothing is a miracle; you can live as if everything is a miracle.
– Albert Einstein
I am a miracle worker by trade. Or more precisely, a facilitator of miracles.
I state this with humility. My powers are as ordinary as those of the Wizard of Oz, whose only real magic was tricking Dorothy, the Tin Woodsman, the Scarecrow, and the Cowardly Lion into beginning a journey out of their self-limiting beliefs.
The best trick I’ve found to facilitate miracles is deceptively simple. (Like the Wizard, I, too, sometimes need to be a little deceptive). It’s called the Miracle Question and it goes like this:
Imagine that after you finish this essay you do whatever you would normally do with the rest of today. But tonight, while you’re asleep, a strange thing happens: A miracle occurs. This miracle is just for you, and it’s that all your problems and concerns are solved. Wonderful, right? However, there’s a catch. Because the miracle happened while you were asleep, when you wake up tomorrow, you’re in the world of the miracle from here on out, but you don’t know it. So the question is: What do you notice, from the moment you wake up and as you step through your day, that eventually gets you thinking, “Something’s different about today. A miracle must have happened!”
You are looking for a shift in awareness like Dorothy’s after the tornado deposited her in Oz. She steps out of her house, looks around, and, as the film itself shifts into Technicolor, she sees the yellow brick road, the horse of many colors, the munchkins. She turns to her little dog and exclaims, “Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore!” You are looking for what leads you to your I’m-not-in-Kansas-anymore moment.
The Miracle Question is part of Solution-Focused therapy, which is based on the belief that all of us have the means to solve our own problems. The question helps people to envision, while in a guided visualization, what their lives can be when all their current concerns have been addressed and issues resolved.
After I ask clients the Miracle Question, I lead them through answering it, using prompts like: How do you feel when you open your eyes? Are you in the same bedroom? The same house? With the same people? What’s different as you get ready for the day? What’s different as you step through it, hour by hour? What do other people in your life notice about you that’s different? What do you notice about them?
Gradually, as they walk through their miracle day, a detailed vision of that different life emerges. Then it’s just a matter of working toward the miracle, one doable step at a time.
After clients have answered the Miracle Question, they reflect on what pieces of the miracle are already part of their lives, in whole or in part. Then I ask them to evaluate their present life on a scale of 1–10, where “1” is how things were when they were as far away from the miracle as they have ever been, and “10” is they are living the miracle 24/7. The number they come up with is where their journey begins.
Before they leave the session, clients decide on a task or experiment that they hope will move them closer to their miracle. The choice is important. Generally, it shouldn’t be something they would do anyway, nor should it be so daunting that they won’t attempt it. Instead, the best experiment is something they really want to do, even if there is some anxiety, and they believe that regardless of the outcome, just doing it will raise their score. At our next meeting, we look at what happened and make course corrections as needed. Then we repeat the process until, step by step, week by week, they create their miracle.
It is difficult to get somewhere if you don’t know your destination and have no way to check that you’re on the right path. Answering the Miracle Question helps us envision the desired destination, the experiments move us forward, and the 1–10 scaling provides a means for verifying that we’re still on track.
The Miracle Question is like the Call to Adventure that launches the Hero’s Journey. It impels us to take risks and endure struggles we might not otherwise have taken and endured, but which yield rewards that cannot be obtained any other way. Much as Dorothy discovered she always had a home, the Tin Woodsman found his compassion, the Scarecrow displayed his brilliance, and the Lion showed his courage, by traversing our own yellow brick roads, we become who we are meant to be.
Perhaps today is when you begin a journey down your yellow brick road. What will you notice when you wake up tomorrow?
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