The Miracle Question

Those lyrics are from an old (1935) American popular song. Believe it or not, writing to yourself can be very therapeutic. Milton Erickson, the famous psychologist asked a simple question that was so powerful and effective it has been referred to as, “The Miracle Question.”  Here it is:

  • Write an imaginary letter of a day in the future when you are in a wonderful place physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
  • If you imagine your life is like a novel and the next chapter is a happy one, what will happen in it?
  • Imagine that a year has passed, and you decide to send a postcard with good news. What would the good news be?
  • If someone were to tell others the good news about you in the future, what would that be?

Put another way, imagine you awaken one morning, a miracle has occurred, and your problems are gone! How are you different? What are you doing? What are your plans? How do you feel? How do you look? What are your relationships like? How do you see yourself moving forwards? etc. etc. This is much more powerful than simply imagining a future without your problems. 

It’s easy to do this exercise, merely writing or talking about your life in the future is wonderful.  Just make-believe. Just imagine. You can even tell others about this miracle and ask them to describe you in this wonderful future. Hearing other people’s fantasies about your future may help you do this exercise even better.

Other ways of asking The Miracle Question:

  • What will you be doing or saying differently such that other people will know you are less depressed (or sad or anxious or confused etc.)?
  • If you were in a restaurant and people were watching you and your spouse having a meal together, how will they know that you are getting on well?

This can be used with a friend or even a teenager (wow!). Take turns telling each other The Miracle Question and your wonderful changes: physically, emotionally, and spiritually. (1)

  1. A Brief Guide to Brief Therapy; 1993 by Brian Cade and William Huson O’Hanlon and The Miracle Question. Solution Talk-Hosting Therapeutic Conversations; 1992, by Ben Furma and Tapani Ahola.




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