Did you know Aesop lived in Greece? According to legend, Aesop's Fables (Aesopica) was a collection of fables created by Aesop (Αίσωπος), a slave and storyteller in ancient Greece (620 to 560 B.C.). Throughout the ages, these fables have been translated and recreated in many forms. The fables are best known for their ability to teach moral lessons to both adults and children.
Here is a very short version of one of the most well-known fables credited to Aesop: The Fox and The Grapes.
One day, a fox tried to reach a bunch of grapes hanging on a vine. Unable to reach the grapes, the fox declared, "The grapes are sour anyway" and trotted off.
In some versions of the fable, the grapes are referred to as being unripe, not sour. However today, the term "sour grapes" is quite common and is used to refer to the feelings of frustration associated with the denial of one's true desire after failing to acquire something that was actually desired.
This short fable helps us realize that often it is easy to criticize what we can't have. How often do you hear this type of criticism when someone pretends they didn't care for something but secretly, they do care and desire the "something", but can't attain it?
For example, if a person is unable to get a ticket for a show, they might say, "I heard it wasn't very good anyway." Or when they are listening to someone else's account of their travels to New York City (a place that they secretly wished to visit but have never been able to visit), they say, "Who would want to go to New York City? It's too crowded." Or if they encounter someone who's come into some riches they say, "I'd rather be poor and happy than rich and unhappy." How often do you hear sour grapes at your place of work? When someone gets promoted and they may have wanted the promotion but were not selected, they say, "Who'd want that job anyway? The hours are too long."
"Sour grapes" are a defense mechanism we often use when we are experiencing some sort of emotional conflict. We conceal our true motivations by pretending the opposite. This lack of authenticity hinders our relationships with Others (the "O" in OPA!). Have you encountered "sour grapes" today?
Note: If you haven't read our introduction to The OPA! Way, a new lifestyle inspired by and based on Greek culture from ancient times to the present day, we recommend that you read Part 1 and Part 2 of "'Opa!' It's a Lifestyle."
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Dr. Alex Pattakos and his partner, Dr. Elaine Dundon, are meaning experts and 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 (www.twitter.com/TheOPAWay) and join the OPA! Village (www.theopaway.com).