The Power of Three

by | Jul 11, 2017


Three is powerful.  The “rule of three” is a principle in writing that suggests that things that come in threes are inherently funnier, more satisfying, or more effective than other numbers of things. More than three things can be confusing and overwhelming.  It is good to have three options when making a decision. Give us more than three choices and we hesitate and are confused; two choices makes us feel torn. Three choices makes us feel better.

The reader/audience is more likely to consume information if it is written in groups of threes; things expressed in threes are “stickier” to the human brain.

Shakespeare used the rule of three. (“Friends, Romans, Countrymen”.) Thomas Jefferson used it. (“Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness”). Julius Caesar used it “Veni, vidi, vici” (I came, I saw, I conquered).  Christianity uses it: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Hollywood uses it: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, Sex, Lies, and Videotape and in a more general sense,trilogies like Indiana JonesThe GodfatherThe MatrixStar Wars, and many others.  Others:  the three little pigs, the three blind mice, Goldilocks and the three bears, the Three Musketeers, the three wise men and the Three Stooges. “Stop drop and roll” (or in fleeing zombies, “Change, Cut and Run”).  We celebrate first, second and third place in competitions. We have three primary colors: red, yellow and blue.

Its also used in humor, for example, from Jon Stewart:  “I celebrated Thanksgiving in an old-fashioned way. I invited everyone in my neighborhood to my house, we had an enormous feast, and then I killed them and took their land.”

So – when writing, marketing, making a presentation or parenting your children, keep in mind the rule of three. It’s a magic number.

Three is a magic number:


  1. 3 branches of government…3 legged stool…nuclear triad…3 strikes…3 dots…

  2. Loved this post, thank you !

  3. I might add my three sons to your list….that has been the trip of a lifetime for your mom.

    • Same goes for three daughters😍


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