I remember the thrill of finding money as a kid: on a sidewalk, in a parking lot, and in that little slice of the Otherworld – between the cushions of the couch. It was a surprise, it was fun, and for a kid whose piggybank (actually, a small red box with a tiny lock) usually held less than $10, finding even a nickel was a financial windfall.

As I got older and got used to handling more money, the thrill got less and less. By the time I was out of college I wouldn’t stop for less than a quarter, and before too long the threshold rose to a dollar. The fun was long gone and found money was never enough to be significant – why bother?

Then one day I was on a business trip when I co-worker and I both spotted a quarter on the sidewalk. I was ready to keep walking, but she insisted on picking it up. She said “you should never pass up found money – you’re telling the Universe you don’t want any more!”

The engineer in me said “silly superstition” at the same time the magic worker said “as above so below – she has a point.” And so I went back to picking up coins. Quarters, dimes, nickels… even pennies. Don’t want to tell the Universe I don’t want any more money.

This past weekend I was walking through the neighborhood when I spotted a nickel on the sidewalk. Out of habit I stopped and picked it up. But as I walked on, my mind went back to part of what I said about success last week: success is having enough and having the wisdom to recognize it.

I’m not rich and I’ll never be rich, but I have enough – and I know it. So why was I sending mixed signals – why was I saying I need more?

Out of an unexamined habit, that’s why.

The next morning, I went into the gym and opened a locker. Whoever had been in that locker before me had left a nickel and a penny in it – one cent more than what I had picked up the previous day. I picked it up out of habit, then put it back.

I have enough. Someone else may need it more than I do.

As for my co-worker, she left the company several years ago. She’s now a Vice President with a large international logistics company. I know she really wanted to be a Vice President.

I hope it’s finally enough.

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  • I rarely pick up small change, even when I drop it myself. . .

    A: I might put my back out picking it up. 😉

    B: The dropped change may make someone else's day, especially if they believe in lucky pennies.