Everything Happens in Threes

Everything Happens in Threes was originally published on 04/09/2015

Following the ‘incident’ of the dog, his toe-nail and the blood (another story for another day) and the resulting need to get down on my hands and knees, scrub the floors, scrub the rug, scrub the sofa’s, I was feeling particularly grubby, so took myself off for a shower. Now the sound of the shower running was not making its usual sweet burbling noise – the washer had gone and water was peeing down the pipe, across the back of the bath and cascading onto the floor

Humph – a temporary fix (not having a washer to hand) later and I reached for the shampoo, the pump-action squirty device had locked solid and I had to break into the bottle to quickly wash my hair and vacate before I totally flooded the bathroom – grrrr.

The point of me telling you all this is, is that after relaying this sorry tale to a friend I was met with the response of ‘well, at least that was your three’ – what? – ‘everything happens in threes’ she said. That got me thinking, we all have that same common belief ‘that everything happens in three’s’ – why? – where does it come from? – what are its origins?
Google is your friend, I thought – so I did. Lots and lots of sites reiterating the fact that we believe it and giving examples of how we believe it, but no inkling of why or how we came to that conclusion. Then I spotted – “HubPages»Education and Science»Psychology and Psychiatry»Social Psychology” and a ‘report’ on the subject, now ‘Social Psychology’ as a discipline should be able to throw some light on it – shouldn’t it?

After reading a slightly more intellectual version reiterating the fact and a discussion on ‘human psychology and the clustering illusion’, I get to the nitty gritty – ‘WHY THREES?‘ and the disclosure “Why we have an affinity for the number three is a mystery”  – not really helpful, but the author does go on to say, “This is more than just a societal trait, it is wired into the cognitive processes of our brains”  and to discuss the fact that the number three is also at the root of our narrative structure (now we might be getting somewhere) with literature following a three act structure – introduce the characters and concepts (Act 1) – develop the plot (Act 2) – resolve the conflict (Act 3).

Also discussed in this report is ‘THE RULE OF THREE’, as a rhetorical device (sorry Wiccans & Witchy people), used in children’s literature, comedy and public speaking – fairy tales, the ‘three little pigs’, the ‘three billy goats, gruff’ and the ‘three bears’ (SPOILER ALERT), the wolf fails to blow the third house down, the troll gets beaten up by the third goat and goldilocks eats the third bears porridge – it is also the format for many jokes and public speakers also use it – three points make an argument, three adjectives emphasize something. In the end the author decides that the reason why we have such an affinity for the number three is due to how deeply ingrained it is in our literature.

Let us take this one step further – our literary tradition has only been around for a mere 1,000 to 1,500 years (give or take), when Christian monks started to record the previously ‘oral tradition’ mythologies in writing. For the number 3 to be ingrained into the literary tradition from the very early stages (see the Irish and Welsh mythologies) it must have already been in existence in the pre-existing oral tradition. The number three was vastly important in the Celtic mind-set, three realms Earth – Sea – Sky, they thought in three’s – ternary thinking, they recorded their history & morals in three’s – the Welsh Triads. Is our fixation with ‘Everything Happens in Three’s the last vestiges that we have of our ancestors mind-set – so deeply ingrained within our psyche’s that it is ingrained in our souls? – Is it?

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