Picking up a Penny

A very popular superstition is when you find a penny on the floor and it becomes your lucky charm for the rest of the day. I’m pretty sure other coins count, although I could be wrong.

But believe it or not, I find lots of coins, especially recently this month. Not just 1p coins, but all sorts of coins. So far, I have yet to find a 50p coin or a £1 coin, but considering how many 20p coins I’ve found by this point, I guess you could say that I’m really lucky. I consider myself extremely lucky. Not just fortunate to have a loving family, a secure home, a good education, and of course living in London (perhaps the greatest city in the world), but often the circumstances are in my favour, and lucky things just happen to me. I thought it’d be fun to share my story with you, because recently I gave myself time to think about it.

Oh look! A penny!

This is the first part of this story, which I tell a lot of people. About two years ago, I was preparing for two university exams. The first exam I didn’t really study a lot, but I went through my notes the night before the exam. Just for the heck of it, I asked people on Facebook to wish me luck. A bunch of people either “liked” my comment or simply wished me luck on the comments section. They next day, on my way to uni, I found a 20p coin! And the exam I did ok. For my next exam, I didn’t really study at all. I just looked at my notes that very morning! But I was still sorta confident. As I was waiting for the bus to uni, across the street I could see my dad on his way to work. He shouted “Good luck!” at me. After the exam was over, which I totally nailed, I left the examination room and found a 1p coin! From that day onwards, I convinced myself: “I’m lucky!” At the time, I really thought it was luck. Maybe I didn’t know what that meant, or at least I didn’t consider it too much. Sometimes it felt a bit more like karma than it did luck: the more I do good things for others, something good will happen to me. Still, it was like my intuition was telling me that I wasn’t just being lucky, and it was more than karma. I knew there was something more to my luck than just finding a coin.


The second part of the story is just around this month. I had noticed that the year 2013 for me was really mixed: I had a pretty good start to the year, then I had a terrible, and I mean terrible summer which I really don’t want to get into, but then I had and an amazing last third! Meeting new people, starting uni again, etc. The last third of 2013, I guess, could be a way to compensate for the horribleness of my summer. Maybe that’s why I was finding a lot more coins than usual: January was ok, but I was surprised that at least once a week I’d find a coin on the floor, whether it’d be a 1p coin or a 5p coin! A few weeks ago, I’d keep finding coins for like four days in a row! I must have had a lot of luck that particular time. But what did this mean? There wasn’t any moment of epiphany or anything, but I began to realise little by little that there was something else. This is where the third part of the story kicks-in, which was just around the other week:

One day I felt really gloomy and I didn’t want to do anything in particular. No studying, no writing, and I didn’t even know whether I was in a mood to go to singing lessons the following day! And I love singing! The only thing that cheered me up that day was watching Despicable Me 2 at night (awesome and hilarious movie!). So this was a gloomy day with at least a nice ending. Then I got the exact opposite the very next day: an uplifting day with a disappointing ending. Singing lessons was GREAT! The teacher told me how great my performance was! That REALLY cheered me up! Then I found a 5p coin on the floor in the building. Then another 5p coin in a comic book store! I thought to myself, “this is my luck coming back!” I then went to buy a costume for a party tonight with the superhero vs. supervillain theme, and found this awesome Supergirl costume for myself. But then things went downhill onwards. I arrived at the club, where I couldn’t find my friends (one of them left early) and I was waiting alone in the line in the cold for about 50 minutes. I finally arrived, and it was loud and crowded. I bought myself a drink and found a few people, but I wasn’t having a great time and I decided to leave early. What a waste of time. But while I was waiting in the line, and while I was at the club, I kept finding lots of coins. I grabbed a few, some of them 1p coins, but also 2p coins, 5p coins, a 10p coin, and even when I left the club I found a 20p coin! These were probably coins which the uni students must have dropped (being drunk and all, they’d accidentally drop their money). In a bad mood, I thought to myself, “I’m gonna grab all the luck I can get”. But after I arrived back home, I thought about what I just said, and all the coins that I picked up that night.

Today is your lucky day.

I reflected on my luck and looked back at all the lucky coins that I had ever gotten. While I’d find a coin in a happy situation, I’d also find coins in a disappointing or upsetting situation. One time I had to give in an essay for the following week, so I upsettingly changed my mind about sleeping over at a friend’s house and I left early. On the bus stop, I found a 20p coin. And remember those Star Wars Episode 7 auditions they held in London? Yeah, about a few days later, even with that dreaded essay deadline, I actually went there only to find out that, after a 6 hour line, it was just about giving in a headshot and application form, and no real audition. What a let-down. After that, I found a 20p coin. Both those times I had said to myself, “This is a strange day to be lucky.” Either way, I finished the essay and got a top mark! Was that really good luck, or was it something else? So then, after reflecting on myself for a bit, I told myself: “no matter how gloomy I feel, no matter how much of a bad day I get, I will always be fortunate.”

In the back of my mind I knew that these coins weren’t really lucky charms. They weren’t what gave me that luck. They were what reminded me of how lucky I was. The luck was with me all along. I was reminded of this experiment Derren Brown did called “The Secret of Luck” about a small town and a lucky dog statue. When I found the 5p coin after singing lessons, I told a lady next to me, “It’s all about being optimistic! That’s my trick!” It’s not that I never knew until now, but I had reminded myself what this luck meant. Luck isn’t about how many coins you can find on the floor, or what you’ll get afterwards. It’s your attitude. It’s about believing that something good can happen to you. The lucky coins are superstitions. I really don’t have to get coins to give me luck. Besides, I just coincidentally live in a city where people just happen to drop their coins all the time. That was a no brainer.

"Lucky" neon lights

After some time, I began to realise why I was lucky. As Derren Brown suggested in his luck experiment, more optimistic people tend to consider themselves luckier. So yes, I still believe I’m a lucky person, but that’s because I’m such an optimist; a really big optimist. That’s not to say that every person who’s optimistic will find a coin on the floor, or that amazing things will happen to them if they’re always happy. And it’s not like we can control the events around us: sometimes things won’t go according to plan, and horrible things will happen even to the most optimistic people. But we need to keep reminding themselves of what we have and why we have it. We also have to be open to the opportunities around us.

When you have something positive in your life, don’t just take it for granted. If you have great friends, have a special talent or do well in school, invest your time in them and great things will happen to you. If you don’t have those things, or if bad things happen to you, try to find ways to remind yourself that something good is there waiting for you, and that you can try to earn it yourself if you just work hard and believe in it. You have to believe that anything good can come out of something bad if you look at things differently. I didn’t get to wear my Supergirl costume for long, but at least I have a great costume for next Halloween. There was no Star Wars audition, but at least I can tell people about the experience, and I managed to finish my essay and get a surprisingly good grade.

Maybe luck will come to you when you least expect it, but it’s always important to find it yourself and be open to the world around you. I guess the reason why the last few months were amazing was because I got to meet new people and put my passions forward. It gave me inspiration again. It brought me to myself again.


So the coins to me are still lucky coins, but not to give me luck. They’re like a piece of encouragement from the world around me. They’re to remind me of how lucky I already am.

To finish things off, here’s a video of Derren Brown discussing how his luck experiment was carried out, and the idea behind it. You can also check out “The Secret of Luck”, which is a really fun special: