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Money and the Pursuit of Happiness

King Midas was offered one wish by the god Dionysus, who had befriended him. Thinking to become even richer than he was, Midas wished that everything he touched would turn to gold. The wish was granted, but when it came time for him to eat, food turned to gold in his mouth and he went hungry. When Midas embraced the daughter he loved, she too turned to gold. So he begged Dionysus to take away the terrible power he had been granted. Dionysus told him he could free himself of his foolish wish by bathing in the river Pactolus, which ever after ran gold. This famous Greek myth provides a telling tale about unbridled wishes for wealth.

Do problems encountered in myths about kings from ancient times apply to us today? They certainly do!

Sandy, a thirty something investment banker, caused his own suffering through his efforts to become rich and famous. He came to see me, devastated because he had lost his girlfriend and had become isolated from most of his friends. He told me a big part of the reason for this was that he had become so obsessed with working to make money that he no longer had time for anyone or anything else. He was very disappointed that he had not achieved the $200,000 annual salary he thought he should have been receiving by this time in his life.

He had moved into his girlfriend's apartment and was letting her pay the rent while he invested whatever money he made in an idea that he thought would make him rich. He believed she would be happy to share in his dream and would want to spend her life with him.

Once he had put this into words, he could see what he actually had been doing and realized how isolated he made himself. He moaned, "How could I have become so greedy that I forgot about my friends and didn't pay attention to what my girlfriend needed?"

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