Feel Good Friday: The Penny Project

Do you pick up heads-up pennies when you come across them?

I do. It's a small moment that makes me feel lucky, like yes, I am where I am supposed to be at that moment. I put the penny in my pocket and continue walking with a spring in my step. This small surge of happiness makes me more likely to hold the door for the next person I see, or to say hello, or to compliment someone's shoes. I even take it one step further: if I come across a penny that is heads-down, I will not keep it, but I will flip it over so that it is heads up for the next person, so that they might get that little surge. 

And who knows where those happiness ripples might go.

They might be small: maybe the person whose shoes I complimented had been feeling awkward that day and it just made them feel a little more at ease. They might be big, in the long run: maybe the person who I held the door for is more likely to be kind to a trainee bank teller, thus giving that teller the confidence to go on, rise up the ranks, and manage the bank one day.

All because of a penny. 

So, I found myself thinking: what if I did a little feel-good project where I placed pennies throughout the city, in order to engineer a slightly better day for people? The math seemed on my side: for a small investment...

I had the potential to make 50 days a little better. 

Some might dismiss this project as "throwing away money", but I really don't look at it that way. Think again about that meager investment of 50 cents. For the two hours that this project took me, I had a fantastic walk, and got some great exercise. In terms of exercise, it was far cheaper than a yoga class. I also had some great entertainment. If I had gone to a movie for entertainment, it would have cost way more than 50 cents, and the potential for that experience to brighten anyone else's day would be limited (though yes, I believe in going to movies to brighten my own day, too). 

So for a few hours, I walked around downtown Santa Fe and placed pennies here and there. Some highlights:

Placing my last penny, I felt exhausted, and my hands smelled metallic, but I felt exhilarated. The sun was setting and all felt right with the world.


Maybe not everyone would be thrilled to find a penny. Maybe some of them would be knocked over and end up heads down. But maybe, just maybe, some of these placed pennies would present a superpower. Maybe they would brighten someone's day just a little bit. And they would never know it, but that penny had been placed there just for them. 

I don't know what will happen to all of the pennies that I left around town. But the project is already a success, because of the potential to delight others, and the definite delight that it gave me to complete. 

There is magic and delight everywhere in the world, and it's waiting for you. 

What made you happy today?