Use the Power of 3 in Your Life

The number 3 is a powerful tool for self mastery and represents joy in numerology. You can use the power of 3 to be more aware of your own interactions and tendencies and to help ease yourself into new experiences or change old habits. Studies have shown that positive or negative energy is transferred to three degrees of freedom. You also give more power, meaning, and potential to words and actions when you do or say them three times. For instance…

  • Expressing gratitude three times.
  • Trying something new three times before passing judgement on it.
  • Providing three positive comments or experiences to fend off the languishing effects of one negative.

Following are several topics to approach with the Power of 3:

Stuff – You don’t need more than three of most things. You don’t need more than three blue sweaters. You don’t need more than three collectibles. You don’t need more than three sets of measure cups. You get the idea. If you look around, and you have a lot of something, pick your favorite three. My husband tells me this extends to dogs as well, he insists we don’t need more than three dogs. This may be the one place where this rule fails… time will tell.

Ginger, Sugar, and Spice
Photo Credit: Jen, my wonderful dog sitter

One more note on stuff, I was shopping recently at my favorite store (Marshalls), and I struck up a conversation with a well dressed, elderly woman in the aisle. Chatting in the aisles is a very Midwestern thing to do, so I was in my element. She offered me a new gem. She said that when she buys a new clothing item, she has a three year rule. The first year she will only wear it out socially, the second year she will only wear it out and about, and the third year she will only wear it at home. I loved her anecdote, but my life leans more towards 3 years socially, 3 years out and about, and then 3+ years at home.

Social Etiquette – If you ask someone to do something with you three different times and they decline each time, stop asking. Likewise, if someone asks you three times and you don’t accept and you do want to be friends, you need to extend the next invite, sooner than later. This idea extends to texts, phone calls, etc. Friendship goes both ways, don’t waste energy on one sided relationships. Of course there are exceptions, you’ll recognize them.

I use this concept a lot with my kids and their friendships too. I want them to understand the balance involved. I ask them to think about whose turn it is to host or invite, and I won’t let them chase kids or be taken advantage of. The rule of three gives them guidelines to work within.

I also use the same technique in reverse if I need to distance myself from a situation. I will respond to every third text or every third phone call. This is transferable to business as well, don’t let people dictate your time or priorities.

Advice & Persuasion – You should only give the same advice to the same person three times, then you need to keep it to yourself or risk damaging your relationship. You have given them three opportunities to hear you. This applies to persuasion as well and it goes a step further. Stop at three supporting statements when you are trying to persuade someone’s opinion.

Three charms, but four alarms.

Kurt Carlson & Suzanne Shu, Georgetown University School of Business

Exchanges – If someone offers to pick up the tab or gives you something unexpected, only offer to pay, contribute, or reimburse them three times before graciously accepting their gift.

Quick side note here, as a parent, I often wonder if my kids are absorbing anything I say. Recently, my oldest was gifted something at school that was generous. I asked him several (admittedly maybe more than three) times if he needed to pay anything in return. He finally told me in exasperation that he had indeed asked three times and that maybe I could follow my own teachings. They do listen, especially when they can use it to get you to leave them alone.

Intuition – Please always trust your intuition, it is your internal compass, built in to keep you safe and on the right path. You should listen to your intuition the first time, but admittedly sometimes we need more of a nudge. But for the love of chocolate, if you get three signals that point to the same thing, pay attention!!!

In the end, only three things matter:  how much you loved, how gently you lived, and how gracefully you let go of things not meant for you.


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