How To Choose Your Life Like You Choose A Lover

how to choose your life like you choose a loverImagine a world without money. How would it change what you do? How would it alter the choices you make?

Would you still be living this version of your life? Or are you only living this life because of money?

What if we only did things because they gave us meaning?

We view our relationships so differently to how we spend our lives.

Imagine if a friend said “I can’t stand my partner, but I’m with her for the money.”

We’d be pulling our hair out. Be with people who give your life meaning. That’s what we’d say.

Yet we live our lives that way. And it’s mainstream.

What if they said “I’m going to spend the next nine hours doing things I hate, for a person who is unpleasant”.

Who’d bat an eyelid? That’s just the norm.

Imagine a different world, where meaning was more important than money. A world where we made decisions based on getting all our needs met.

Money is the great reducer. It moves attention away from all other needs. The power of money is such that it can easily be the sole criteria for any decision that involves it.

So much so that we wage war on our other needs to get money.

Money matters of course. We all have a need for shelter, safety, food, warmth and water. Money can be an effective strategy for meeting those needs.

No wonder it has such power. Without food and shelter, we suffer and even die.

But its influence extends long after we have met those basic needs.


I chatted to someone yesterday whose need for food and shelter are already met. Yet she was considering taking on work that she didn’t want to do. Why? For money. And not even a lot of money.

She had relegated all other needs out of consideration. Her needs for enjoyment, stimulation, and meaning were no longer in the equation. Because of money.

Another friend does social change work. He has an important message he wants to get out into the world.

Recently, he had the opportunity to spread that message. But the organisation could not pay for it to happen. So, on principle, he decided not to do it. This work deserves payment, he said.

This opportunity hadn’t met money’s agenda. But it would have met other needs. For contribution. For spreading the message he is passionate about. For meaning.

When money is around, it elbows other needs out of the equation. They are not even discussed or considered.

Another friend had the chance to do something fantastic with her art. I could see she wanted to do it. When money isn’t a factor, we say yes to things we want to do.

“Fancy coming on a cycle ride?”

“Oooo yes.”

Yet here she was dithering. “What about the money? How do I get paid for it?”

It’s a reasonable question. Getting paid sustains us to do more of that work. And to eat.

But money was becoming THE deciding factor. It became a block, even though her financial needs were already met.

This is the power we give money. We deny ourselves great experiences just because there’s no money in it.

And we accept awful, mind numbing, life draining experiences just because there is.

In my own life, I see the power of money shaping me in ways that override my other needs.

When I work, there are lots of needs that I’d like satisfied, over and above those related to finances.

I have a need for contribution. I long for connection. I hope that my work matters in some way to the world. I want to be effective in the work I do. I want appreciation because then I know I have contributed.

I also have a need for creativity, self expression, playfulness and enjoyment.

I have a need to be the master of my own time. I need the space to give me room for reflection and spontaneity. I have a need for authenticity and integrity in the work I do and how I do it.

I have a need to learn and discover new things. I want my work to be stimulating.

That’s a lot of needs that have nothing to do with money. Aren’t they important too? Don’t they belong in the equation?

Am I letting money be a block to meeting those other needs? Often, yes.

Here’s an example. I’m a musician and a songwriter. I’ve been writing songs since I was ten years old. Whatever life throws at me, I write songs anyway. I can’t imagine ever stopping.

So what meets my need for contribution and meaning as a recording artist? People listening to my music. As many people as possible.

The more people have my music, the happier I am. Not because of stuff like fame. That’s not on my agenda. But because my songs would enrich many lives rather than just a few.

I got an email recently. Someone said that whenever they feel down, they play Bring Love, one of my songs, and it cheers them up. Can you imagine how good that feels? That meets my needs in a big way.

But I get in the way of that. I put a barrier up called money. I limit the amount of people whose lives I enrich through my music. I only let people have my music if they pay for it. Fewer people have it as a result.

Yesterday, I took down that barrier. I no longer demand money for my recorded music. I just request it.

People can now download it all for free. Or they can choose to help me keep making music by giving me money.

Those who do both meet my financial needs and my need to enrich the lives of others. Those who download for free still contribute to my need for my music to matter. Only not downloading at all leaves every need unmet. That’s what the money wall made more likely.

Marshall Rosenberg once said: “Never do anything for money. Do the work to meet your need for meaning. And then get the money you need to do it. Don’t ever do anything for money. Life’s too short.”

For Marshall, money came after meaning. He’d make his decisions independent of money. He decided to do things because he found them meaningful. Only then would he think of how to get the money to keep doing it.

It’s a way of thinking that lets us focus on our many other needs. It stops us reducing every decision to a money focused one. Especially when our core needs for food and shelter are already met.

It helps us to live our lives in the same way we choose friendships and lovers – not based on money, but on what enriches life.

Alun Parry is Director of The Liverpool Psychotherapy Practice

1 thought on “How To Choose Your Life Like You Choose A Lover”

  1. Pingback: Ep18: Goals, Money And The Struggle To Live Authentically - Alun Parry

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