Can Passion Involve Money?

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After reading excerpts of Johan Huizinga’s book Homo Ludens and of Roger Caillois’ Man, Play & GamesI got to thinking on whether we can be truly passionate about something we expect monetary gain from.

A Bit of Background

Huizinga and Caillois discussed their thoughts on what is considered an experience of Play. Play being a fairly difficult word to give a clear definition, how do we define what is and isn’t play? How do we know when we are in play and when we are not? It was these types of questions they attempted to answer. Caillois built upon Huizinga’s earlier work and came to a conclusion of 6 different criteria which must be met for play to occur, these were as follows:

  1. It must be voluntary.
  2. It is separate from ordinary life in that it suspends real world time and space.
  3. It cannot be pre-determined in that it is uncertain.
  4. It is unproductive, it creates no wealth.
  5. It is subject to laws that suspend ordinary laws and behaviours.
  6. It involves make-believe that confirms for players the existence of imagined realities that may be set against ‘real life’.

It is number 4 that has caught my interest.

It is unproductive, it creates no wealth.

Play and Passion

I don’t actually agree that play cannot occur if wealth is created from said activity, but that’s not what I plan to argue. Instead I want to see how Play and Passion interlink and explore the idea of whether we can be truly passionate about something we make money off or maybe even do to make a living.

Passion is a word that shares things in common with the word play in that people have found it hard to completely define, as such there is multiple definitions. The way I see and use the word passion is most accurately defined with this definition:

A strong liking or desire for or devotion to some activity, object, or concept.” – Merriam Webster 

It got me to thinking as to whether we can be passionate about a certain activity while having it as our job we live off of.

It’s Hard to Say

It seems a lot of people like actors, novelists, artists and musicians are continually very passionate about their forte throughout their careers. That leads to a few questions though for me, which might come across as somewhat cynical. Do these people reach a point where it stops being a passion activity and becomes work? Are these people pressured to put on the image that they are happy and passionate about what they do when in reality they could be sick of it?

I mean I could imagine it in almost any line of work. Someone could reach their dream job and end up starting to hate it after a while. It could be due to many different reasons though, not necessarily passion corroding into work. It could be that the job isn’t what they were expecting for example. Let’s not digress too much from the topic though, the bottom line is can passion involve money or monetary gain?


I don’t think I’m anywhere near experienced enough to answer the question at aged 19, life-wise and career-wise. However I’ll give the theory I have in my head which may be completely wrong, or somewhat right, I assume it depends on the person.

I think monetary gain can co-inside with passion, albeit while the right factors are at optimum levels. What I mean by that is that there are a ton of factors that I think affect whether a person feels they are doing something out of passion or out of necessity for monetary gain. A few of these factors would be morale, external reactions of others, expectations, the amount of time the individual has been doing this activity and more. If any or all of these factors, plus more I haven’t mentioned, aren’t where they should be, then I think passion leaves and the activity is done mostly for necessary monetary gain. Usually when someone is passionate about something they would do what they love regardless of money, if possible of course.

Tl;dr: I think they are compatible if certain factors and needs are met, otherwise the activity becomes work and passion leaves.

Huizinga and Caillois believed that Play turned into work if wealth was created and to some degree I agree with them. However I think it’s not as black and white as that.  In regards to passion, if the individual is doing what they love, and will do it regardless of their income then it is raw passion in my eyes. If they happen to make money from it as their work is that good then that’s absolutely fine!

This is a topic I’ll probably come back to in the future with more life experience as I feel a little ignorant trying to provide an answer to such a big question. We’ll see how much I agree with Huizinga & Caillois on Play and how that interlinks with passion in another 10 years time.

In the meantime however, do you think you can be passionate about something while working it as your job? Let me know in the comments section, especially if you’re older and more experienced as yours truly.


– Jamie


Featured Image: ©Serge Costa