The immortal storyteller Aesop gave us a lesson we would do well to apply today.
There once was a hungry fox who spied some grapes perched on a high branch.
He wanted to eat them, so he jumped and jumped, running and twisting himself in the air, but just couldn’t reach them.
They were just too high.
The fox gave . He turned to leave, but before he did, he looked back at the grapes and said “Aw, those old grapes are sour, anyway.”
End of story.
The moral of the story is that we should not hate what we cannot obtain. We should not be like the fox.
Psychologists call it “cognitive dissonance.” In music, dissonance refers to when notes are out of harmony, creating terrible noise. In psychology, it is when thoughts are out of harmony, creating foolish actions.
It’s something of a defense mechanism. When we realize that the object of our efforts is unattainable, we realize we have been foolish, sometimes in front of others.
We change our opinion and in order to mask that — we feign outrage, call ourselves betrayed and vow to never be made a fool of again. By doing this, we hope to be seen as the victim rather than a mere mortal. And there’s the dissonance.
The grapes may or may not have been sour, but the fox didn’t know. He declared them sour because he could not have them. It was out of spite.
We do this, too. When a job passes us by, when a teacher gives us a low mark, when our crush turns us down, we tend to go from wanting something to spurning it in no time flat. People do this to each other and sometimes they do it to God.
This can get really ugly. We say things we don’t mean, we burn bridges, we storm off and mourn in private. We often regret it later. Truth be told, we still want what we’re haranguing, which is why it hurts so much.
It is especially foolish when what we want actually is attainable, but through misunderstanding or a fit of passion, we destroy what chance we had.
So ask yourself: If this thing is so terrible now, why did I want it so much before? Did I learn something new about it that changed my opinion? Did it change and become worse? Or are they just “sour grapes?”
I have found that any disagreement, any disappointment and any heartbreak turns out better when we accept the things we cannot change. Rather than cursing our luck, we to ought to “do good to them that hate [us], and pray for them that despitefully use [us] and persecute [us].”
If we do this, we will avoid unnecessary contention and perhaps unknowingly provide for our own futures.