There is a tool that is sometimes used by therapists called “The Miracle Question.” The therapist asks their client to imagine that they wake up one morning and a miracle has happened. The client’s life is exactly as they’d like it to be. The client is asked to describe what their life would look like, what would be different.
There are a couple of purposes to the question. One is to try to create goals for the client. By identifying a destination you can start creating a road map to get there. Another purpose is simply to get the client thinking about what could be instead of what is…or even what was.
Often we have a vision of where we’d like our life to be. We imagine the changes we’d like to make, the way we’d like to feel, the relationships we’d like to have and so much more. The miracle question is easy to answer in those moments. We can describe, often in detail, what would make us happy and fulfilled.
However, many times when people come to therapy it isn’t because life has been going well and they just want to keep making it better. It is often because things aren’t going well or something difficult has happened. It might be the end of a relationship, job loss, death of a friend or loved one, illness, depression…the list goes on and on. And in those moments imagining a better future can be difficult, sometimes almost impossible.
It can be easy to get mired in those difficult feelings. Our view becomes limited. We become unable to imagine how things could ever be any better. It feels like the challenges and the darkness will never end. We start believing we had our dream and it was taken away. How could anything ever ever replace what we have lost?
But the truth is that despite our limited view, despite our despair that things can never improve, life can continually surprise us. We are amazingly resilient creatures. Our ability to continue to find new pleasures and new joys is limitless. We have the ability to always create a better future, to find a new way to fill happy or fulfilled.
Think about this. Have you ever eaten a meal and said, “that is the best meal I’ve ever had?” Or maybe “I’ve never seen a more beautiful sunset.” Yet I bet you’ve said it again. And again. Because it is true. In that moment what you ate or what you saw was the best tasting or the most beautiful. And when the next moment arrives, the same thing is true. Because for that place and that time, it is the best, the greatest, the most beautiful, the most delicious.
Our lives are like that. We can have “the best relationship” or “the best job” or the “most wonderful whatever.” And if it ends or goes away, it doesn’t mean we won’t ever have that pleasure again. It just means that we need to find the next place and time where we have the feelings we want to have. Where life feels wonderful.
We can experience the sadness, the disappointment, the sorrow now. In fact we should. But don’t let the view from that place stop us from believing that there is something better ahead. Sometimes we just can’t see the view because we haven’t yet climbed the hill.