A Price for Passion

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying: If you do what you love you won’t work a day in your life. Now, I can’t speak for you, but for me this doesn’t always hold true.

Making a living out of the things that I enjoy: writing, photography, traveling, etc. should theoretically make me a very happy, but it doesn’t.

Why? Let me try and explain:

There are two prevalent norms that dominate our lives: market norms and social norms; our lives consist of simultaneously living in both. Market norms require monetary exchange for goods and services, and social norms consist of the friendly requests that people make of one another.

When money is mentioned, people start using market norm mentality to identify if the endeavor is ‘worth it’ or not. And more often than not, the monetary price that is offered for the ‘work’ is either too low or simply taken as an insult. Similarly, when no money is mentioned people use social norm mentality to willingly volunteer their time in exchange for some intrinsic autotelic pleasure.*

So you see- when it comes down to something we are passionate about or doing something for social welfare, being paid zero dollars is more attractive than being paid some dollars for our time. When market mentality enters, social norms are pushed out; this is the way the world works.* Naturally, when it comes to things that are close to our heart, we automatically operate with social norm mentality, that is until people start putting a price on our passions.


My inspiration to synthesize this piece came from my reading of Dan Ariely’s book Predictably Irrational and my own personal experiences.

*Quote from the book

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