05/06/2011 08:59 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

'Opa!' and King Midas's Greed

A famous Greek myth highlights the consequences of excessive greed. King Midas (Μίδας) so worshipped gold that when granted a wish by the god Dionysus (Διόνυσος), he asked that everything he touched turn to gold. Midas' wish was granted.

Everything Midas touched did turn to gold, and he became a very wealthy man. However, there were unexpected consequences of his greed. Literally everything he touched turned to gold, including the food he loved to taste, which he could no longer taste, and the people whose company he loved, whom he could no longer enjoy because they were turned into solid gold, too. We learn from the King Midas story that "greed is not good," that "all that glitters is not gold" and to "be careful what you wish for." This powerful and meaningful story has been passed down through the generations and was crafted to warn us about excessive greed.

However, throughout the ages, it seems that the consequences of desiring and attaining excessive wealth seem to have been lessened. Instead of being punished with loss, as King Midas experienced in the story, it appears that excessive greed is now revered -- subconsciously if not consciously. We all remember the famous line from the 1987 movie "Wall Street," starring Michael Douglas and Charlie Sheen: "Greed, for lack of a better word, is good." Regrettably, rather than adhering to the lessons learned from King Midas, we are witnessing more examples of greed in all facets of society. Perhaps one of the most disturbing trends is that of financial elder abuse, where people of low moral character are taking advantage of vulnerable, aging people who may be suffering from dementia or Alzheimer's disease and, as a result, are not aware or capable of managing their financial affairs.

And greed, of course, is not limited to the pursuit of riches. Greed, for instance, can even relate to food -- an excessive desire to have more and more food, resulting in a person becoming overweight or obese. In 2008, 68 percent of Americans were classified as overweight or obese. And while the psychological underpinnings and extrinsic motivations of being overweight obviously vary across a wide spectrum, the greed factor can be found among them. Likewise, greed can also relate to possessions -- an excessive desire to have more and more possessions (i.e., material "things"), resulting in the need for closet organizers and extra storage units, among other potential manifestations.

Suffice it to say that greed is not a core value of The OPA! Way lifestyle (which we introduced in "Opa! It's a Lifestyle" Parts 1 and 2). On the contrary, greed is the antithesis of living a truly happy, healthy, meaningful life. At what point will the Greek god Dionysus help us realize that our greed has unexpected consequences? And where will this presumed need for excess ultimately lead us?

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Dr. Alex Pattakos and his partner, Dr. Elaine Dundon, are the co-founders of The OPA! Way® lifestyle of "Living Your Inner Greece!" which means living all of life to the fullest with enthusiasm and meaning. You can find out more about Dr. Pattakos, author of the international bestselling book "Prisoners of Our Thoughts," and Dr. Dundon, author of the international bestselling book, "The Seeds of Innovation," in their HuffPost bio. You are also invited to follow The OPA! Way on Twitter ( and join the OPA! Village (