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Happier, Healthier, Holier

Happier, Healthier, Holier

What’s Your ‘Miracle Question’ This Year?

Are you wondering if you should do anything different in 2022? There’s a strategy used by counselors and coaches called “The Miracle Question.” Developed by social workers Steve de Shazer and Insoo Kim Berg as part of their theory of solution-focused brief therapy, it’s a question that is asked something like this: if you woke up tomorrow and a miracle happened and your problem was no longer a problem, how would you know?

For example, if my biggest problem right now is that I spend too much time on my phone (it is), I would know that my problem was no longer a problem because the first thing I’d be looking at in the morning is the sunrise instead of social media. I’d be thinking about the Gospel readings for the day instead of whatever Apple News is flashing on my home screen. I’d begin the day hopeful and energized, instead of worried about trending topics.

In imagining how I’d know my problem is solved I’ve given myself the first steps to take. For example, I could start looking at the sunrise every morning for five minutes. I could read the Gospel of the day instead of scrolling. I can use the screen time limits I impose on my kiddos so that my day isn’t saturated in clickbait. The first steps — which can be the hardest to figure out — are much clearer when I envision the results.

January is a time of year when we often try to make changes to improve our lives. Resolutions can fail when we’re too general or try to simply eliminate undesirable behaviors without replacing them with positive actions.

If we’re trying to really root out specific sin or build good spiritual habits, formulating the miracle question can be a great way to identify the first steps to take. Resolving to “pray more in 2022” is great. To really see results, take that resolution a step further and ask yourself, “If I woke up tomorrow and my prayer life was the best it’s ever been — how would I know?” Does it mean you’re attending daily Mass, praying a rosary, making a yearly retreat or keeping a spiritual journal? Write all the goals you have for yourself and then decide which ones to incorporate first.

This question works for sinful habits we’re trying to kick, too. We could ask ourselves, “If I woke up tomorrow and no longer lost my temper, how would I know?” to help us identify the skills we need to hone for this to become reality — like journaling our angry thoughts, leaving the room to count to 10 and breathe, or ignoring a comment online instead of engaging in an argument.

The momentum of a new year is a great time to examine what could be added or removed so that our lives can be happier, healthier and holier. Instead of vague resolutions like, “praying more” or “gossiping less,” let’s prayerfully consider the question of how life would look if the problem was gone. Make a list of all the ideas, then decide which step to take first.


Alison Blanchet lives in Panama City with her husband and children. Email her at alisondblanchet@gmail.com.