The 3 bones of life

‘To succeed in life you need three things: a wishbone, a backbone and a funny bone’ – Dr Kavanagh, during a talk on ‘Moral Anatomy’ in 1908

The Church near me regularly puts inspiring quotes on the noticeboard outside. In fact it’s become a bit of a thing locally with people taking photos and making sure their regular walk takes them past the Church to see what the latest one is. I hadn’t come across this one before but it made me think.

The wishbone is about the importance of having a goal or a dream. Something to aspire to and focus on. After all ‘if you don’t have a dream, how you gonna have a dream come true’? Anyone singing?! We all need motivation, and a goal or dream is a great way to keep moving forward. Your dream might be short or long term but it will be something that you can aim towards. Dreams help you go beyond your perceived limits and aim high. It’s so important that we don’t allow indecision or fear of failure or change to destroy our dreams and stop us achieving them.

Make a wish (Photo by Pixabay on

The backbone is about strength and courage, keeping our feet on the ground and our head above water. If we want to achieve our dream, we need to be resilient, to stretch ourselves and see things through. It’s also about believing in yourself and having clear boundaries. Sometimes we have to say no to other people and put ourselves first in order to give ourselves strength and energy. It’s easy to be ordinary, so much harder to stand out from the crowd and stand up for what you believe in.

The funny bone reminds us that humour is so important in our daily lives. We need to be able to laugh at ourselves, be vulnerable and accept that making mistakes is all part of the journey. If we can be less serious and see the funny side of things, we will not only enjoy life more but we will be less self-absorbed and far more optimistic. It’s also about looking for the silver lining in the inevitable clouds.

Laugh and the world laughs with you (Photo by Tim Mossholder on

So I think Dr Kavanagh is right, we need all three bones to make a real success of life! We need a dream and a sense of humour but without the strength and courage to see something through, it may never happen. Having a goal and personal strength is great but without humour and vulnerability you may struggle to bring other people on board. Combining humour with a good mental attitude can make you strong but without a goal or dream to aim for, you may be lost.

Life has a habit of throwing curve balls at us. Just when things seem to be going OK, something comes along to destabilise us. If we have these three ‘bones’ in place we are far more likely to withstand the low points in life and, even if we fall, we can get back up with a smile on our face and a spring in our step.

Don’t let life knock you down (Photo by Pixabay on

When I think about myself, I can see that I have elements of all three bones, although they could all do with strengthening sometimes. I guess that’s normal! How about you? Are any of them missing or a bit weaker than the others? What could you do to even them out?

So our tiny tweak this week is to look again at the description of the three bones and really think about them. Do you have a dream? Are you strong enough to achieve it? Are you able to accept the inevitable failures along the way? If there’s an area that you think you could strengthen, then choose one tiny thing you can do this week to help you improve that area of your life. Maybe you’re not good at setting boundaries with your friends and family, or maybe you find it difficult to laugh at yourself. Whatever it is, identify it, own it and think about what you can do to change it. It’s over to you this week! I’d love to know what you think though so please let me know in the comments.

Until next time xx

If you enjoyed this post, please give it a like and let me know in the comments. I really love hearing from you!


  1. What a great post, Cathy! I’d never heard this saying, but how true it is! I have all 3 bones, but I’d say my funny bone is the strongest. I laugh at myself more than anyone I know! And, when I’m around people who get my sense of humor (my life partner does not) I can be quite the comedienne. I appreciate this thought-provoking post! 🌞

    Liked by 1 person

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