A Penny for Your Thoughts


BY: RUEBEN LOPEZ, MA, LPC

The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts: therefore, guard accordingly, and take care that you entertain no notions unsuitable to virtue and reasonable nature. 

-Marcus Aurelius

Pennies.  Can you remember the last time you used a penny?  How many of us used to pick them up off the ground because they were lucky. It’s sad that this iconic coin is slowly becoming extinct due to the perspective, or reality that they have no use or more importantly, value in everyday commerce.

For years my 91 year old grandfather would save and give me hundreds, if not thousands of pennies each time I’d visit.  I never understood how one person collected so many pennies. Because I value the ethics my parents taught me surrounding earning and managing money, I graciously took the pennies and end up rolling them for deposit.  I would always jokingly say, “where are the quarters?” These days, it’s my children that count the pennies; there are still plenty of pennies to roll.  For me, it’s the principle and mindset of valuing the small, “seemingly” worthless importance, that I want my children to be able to identify within their life.  Gratitude for the small, simplistic measures prepares us to handle greater responsibility.  

The old saying, A penny for your thought, occurred to me recently as I was trying to explain the logic of counting and rolling these thousands of pennies to my 8 year old daughter and 6 year old son.  They certainly weren’t buying it. As I sat asking what the hell am I doing with all of these pennies; is this really worth my time?  It was in this time of reflection, this idea of a penny for your thought actually begun to come alive for me on a different level.  The saying originated over 400 years ago when the penny was worth significantly more, thus implying that our thoughts have value and contain power.

We often treat our thoughts like pennies, walking by or stepping over pennies on the ground, having them sit in our middle consoles of our vehicles for years, ignoring them or never using them.  Admittedly, I’ve thrown pennies away. Before practicing a higher level of self awareness, hundreds if not thousands of thoughts would deposit into my mental account each day. At times I’d step over them, walk by, ignore, suppress, or stew over these thoughts without placing any type of value on them.  Many of my thoughts were never spent or invested, I treated them as nearly worthless and disposable. It wasn't until I allowed myself to give value to the thoughts that I was having that I saw myself and others with renewed love and appreciation.  I learned the most simple of thoughts or expression can be priceless, and lead to huge dividends.

If you or somebody else you know could benefit from spending some thoughts that have been stepped over, ignored, or even thrown away, the therapists at Mindful Counseling GR are here to help you invest and cultivate the value of your thoughts.