The “miracle question” is a thought experiment that’s used in solutions-focused brief therapy. It’s designed to shift your focus on how helpless you feel to being able to see positive solutions and good things that are happening. Here’s how it can work for you.
Image by nigelhowe.
I first heard of the “miracle question” from Chip and Dan Heath’s book Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard, and I’ve since repurposed it for many aspects of my life, including fitness, to help me overcome my tendency to think in black and white. My modified miracle question for fitness goes something like this:
Imagine that in the middle of the night while you were asleep, a miracle happened that would make you no longer obsess over an ideal weight (for example). But since you were asleep, you don’t know this. When you wake up in the morning, what’s the first small sign that makes you think this morning is different?
Here you need to reject your first likely answer, which is probably “I don’t know.” The idea is to think very deeply about why you are motivated to reach that ideal weight, size, physique and so on. I’ve found that uninhibitedly writing this out helps. An example of the “small change” would be something like, “I have more energy in the mornings to want to have enjoyable conversations with my kids/spouse,” or “I no longer stress about thinking I want fluffy pancakes for breakfast and then denying myself.”
This “miracle question” isn’t supposed to solve anything on its own, but rather help you tease out some hidden motivators and possible conflicts with your goal, and reframe the way you think about a low point, or a problem. Then you could spend more time figuring out how to keep moving forward, rather than brood over what’s holding you back.