rule of threes, simple is better, create change, how to change, start simple, transformation, functional medicine

Simple is Better: the “Rule of Threes”

Have you heard of the Rule of Threes?

It’s the smallest number of anything that can create a pattern within our minds—patterns our brains can latch onto.

Three is a power theme within human engagement, compelling the mind, enhancing memory and pleasure.

While I break this rule a lot, it does remind me to keep things simple. It’s crucial when it comes to behavior change. Smart and sophisticated as we are, we can only do a few simple things at a time—successfully.

I recently attended a Functional Medicine conference where I was mentoring other healthcare practitioners, many brand new to this holistic medicine paradigm. We worked on our personal goals for self-care and lifestyle change, brainstorming about how they could apply what they were learning to themselves—a powerful place to start for a healer.

I took the opportunity to assess my own self-care. What needs work?

I’ve been feeling a bit overwhelmed lately (as they were), so I broke it down to three basic things that need work in my life:

  1. Have more fun—yah, I’ve been working too hard lately!
  2. Get more sleep—been skimping here—I’ll start with just fifteen minutes per night.
  3. Eat more veggies—just a cup or two more per day.

That’s it. Ahhh, I can still breathe…

But it’s HUGE. Rather than feeling overwhelmed or—later on—like a failure for forgetting, I have easily remembered these three goals. I keep thinking about them, and now two weeks into the process, I’ve been accomplishing all three!

What do you want to change or accomplish?

Make a list… stick to the power of three.

Have a Beautiful day!


p.s. From my archives: Four Simple Steps to Jumpstart Change. 2017.

Karyn Shanks MD


Karyn Shanks, MD, is a physician who lives and practices in Iowa City. Her work is inspired by the revolutionary science of Functional Medicine, body-mind wisdom, and the transformational journeys of thousands of clients over her twenty-eight year career. She believes that the bones of healing are in what we do for ourselves.

1 Comment"

    i would like to read the information and help you offer here but the font you are using is too too pale for easy reading. I cannot be the first to mention this.


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