Wednesday, July 27th, 2011

Why We Cry When We're Happy

Why do we cry when we're happy? Science has some theories. "One possibility is that happy crying really isn’t that different from sad crying. What both have in common is a period of intense emotional arousal. Indeed, brain regions associated with emotional arousal, including areas of the hypothalamus and basal ganglia, are connected to a section of the brainstem called the lacrimal nucleus that stimulates tear production." There is also the possibility that "happy crying can help to strengthen mutual bonds between people." But if you ask me, we cry when we're happy because we know it's not going to last.

Photo by KevKev

9 Comments / Post A Comment

barnhouse (#1,326)

It is because your heart is too full.

NFK (#8,747)

THEM: "Are you crying?"
ME: "Yeah, my emotionally aroused basal ganglia just activated the lacrimal nucleus. Do you have a tissue?"

jetztinberlin (#392)

There are also some studies (nerd alert!) that the chemical makeup of tears varies measurably depending on whether they are angry, sad or happy tears, which I always found kinda cool. Sad tears had a higher percentage of toxins and 'negative' chemicals (like those found in tumors, illness responses etc), part of the theory being that crying serves an actual chemical purpose and part of why we feel better after crying is because we've gotten rid of deleterious compounds. /nerdalert

Thank you, fellow nerd! This is very cool.

I've also read that onion-chopping-induced tears are very different, chemically, from sad-tears and thus aren't healing, on any level.

At least half of my happy crying is stealth sad crying, quite literally along the lines of "it won't last."

When I saw that "thumbs up for rock n' roll!" video, I couldn't stop laughing and crying at the same time, because the little boy was so like my little boy, who will never be that kind of little again….

Also, too: All of my crying renders me incapable of recognizable human speech. Very annoying. What does science have to say about THAT?

Aatom (#74)

Yeah. That's it. I'm HAPPY. Now go away, I need to be alone and cry all of this fucking happiness out.

hypnosifl (#9,470)

Related: Studying the emotion of “elevation”

UC Berkeley psychologist Dacher Keltner is a pioneer in the study of an emotion known as “elevation,” characterized by a “a feeling of spreading, liquid warmth in the chest and a lump in the throat.”

Pandemic Endemic (#3,825)

@hypnosifl "Elavation"? I always thought that was called "thizzing the fuck out."

I mean, that last sentence…is the truth of life.

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