Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation
Top

Want to be happier? Have a good cry...apparently

titanic.JPG

Ha ha ha. Laughter really is the best medicine.

… Or is it?

According to researchers in the Netherlands Journal of Motivation and Emotion, there’s nothing better than a good cry to cheer us right up.

Crying has always been known to cause a sense of relief, ridding our soul of the cobwebs which build up over long periods of stress or turmoil. But apparently it also makes us feel much happier. 

life is beautiful

Life is Beautiful, 1997

The scientists, led by Dr Asmit Gracanin of the University of Tilburg, recorded a group of 60 participants whilst they watched two tear-jerkers: Life is Beautiful and Hachi: A Dog’s Tale. The group was also interviewed about how they felt before and after each film.

Out of the group, 60% cried during Hachi: A Dog’s Tale, a film in which Richard Gere befriends a homeless dog, and 45% of participants cried watching Life is Beautiful, set in a Nazi concentration camp during the Second World War.

It was women who were more likely to cry during the films.

Those who remained dry-eyed said they felt no change in emotion after watching the films and those who cried reported feeling sadder than before the films began.

dogs tale

Hachi: A Dog’s Tale, 2009

However, around 20 minutes later, those who had cried felt better, and after 90 minutes, this group even felt elevated happiness levels – reportedly feeling happier than before watching the films. They were also reporting higher happiness levels than the dry-eyed group.

“After the initial deterioration of mood following crying, it takes some time for the mood not only to recover but also to be lifted above the levels at which it had been before the emotional event,” reports Dr Gracanin.

notebook

The Notebook, 2004

One reason for these findings, according to Dr Gracanin, is that crying is thought to trigger the release of the positive brain chemical, oxytocin.

Another reason is that people could be making a conscious mental effort to feel better after crying.

Of course, the results are difficult to analyse, and there is always the possibility that people didn’t feel leagues happier than they did before, but merely thought they did, in comparison with the post-film blues.

Although many studies exist which show that laughter is good for our health, and that crying significantly lowers mood, Dr Gracanin has explained these inconsistencies by saying that those previous studies might not have taken into account the fact that it takes the brain a while to recover – hence the mood elevating after 90 minutes.

 “A good cry might go a long way to make you feel better,” said Dr Gracanin. 

Words: Harriet Hall

Related

londoners.jpg

Where do you fit in London's map of postcode personalities?

GS3473243_rt.jpg

Never put work before life; a go-to guide to the Swedish way of living

rexfeatures_408262k.jpg

The one thing that's proven to bring happiness at work

rexfeatures_1676439a.jpg

This town is named the happiest place in Britain for a third year

rexfeatures_4102835q.jpg

Cumberbatch is right: stop filming and be present in the moment

rexfeatures_4627340g.jpg

J.K. Rowling offers inspiring advice to young writers

Comments

More

US school girl campaigned against her school's tank top ban and won

She arrived at school with the words #IAmNotADistraction on her arm.

by Hayley Spencer
21 Apr 2017

Science has revealed why your Tinder first date is always rubbish

Getting past swiping right can be hard enough

by Jasmine Andersson
21 Apr 2017

This campaign is changing the way images of women are used in media

And it's already had a huge impact.

by Hayley Spencer
21 Apr 2017

Rashida Jones "lifts the veil" on porn industry in new Netflix series

Hot Girls Wanted: Turned On is out today

by Sarah Biddlecombe
21 Apr 2017

Giraffes to be listed as endangered in bid to prevent “silent extinct”

Environmentalists say we are at risk of the “silent extinction” of the world’s tallest land animal

by Hayley Spencer
21 Apr 2017

Why introverts are more likely to excel in their chosen career path

All hail the quietly powerful

by Kayleigh Dray
21 Apr 2017

This mother and daughter’s cancer battle is inspiring women everywhere

Their story has touched the hearts of social media users

by Kayleigh Dray
20 Apr 2017

Why everyone is talking about Netflix's 13 Reasons Why

From alternate endings to that potential second series

by Jasmine Andersson
20 Apr 2017

This is why your cat won’t stop lying on your things

Nope, they’re not just being irritating on purpose.

by Hayley Spencer
20 Apr 2017

New video for Repeal the 8th campaign makes its point beautifully

The battle for reproductive rights in Ireland will reach fever pitch this weekend

by Elle Griffiths
20 Apr 2017