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

The world's first hot air balloon bar is coming to the UK

Get ready for some sky-high drinking

by Sarah Biddlecombe
24 May 2017

All the best ways to indulge your love of gin around the UK

Safaris, festivals, teas and tours to get your juniper on

by Amy Swales
24 May 2017

The time of day has a very real effect on what we want to binge-watch

Light in the morning, darkness at night

by Moya Crockett
24 May 2017

Sunshine could help ease chronic period pain, suggests study

A link has been found between vitamin D, aka the 'sunshine vitamin', and reduced cramps

by Moya Crockett
24 May 2017

Piers Morgan’s ‘hate-mongering’ is expertly shut down on live TV

When Morgan began airing his views about the Manchester attack, Sally Dynevor made it her mission to shut him down

by Kayleigh Dray
24 May 2017

Sara Rowbotham finally makes her voice heard on First Dates

The Rochdale sexual health worker broke down on the Channel 4 dating show

by Kayleigh Dray
24 May 2017

“A teenage girl's first concert should be a rite of passage”

“And, last night it was snatched from their innocent hands”

by Lucy Foster
23 May 2017

Manchester attack: how you can help

The ways you can support the victims, survivors and investigation

by Amy Swales
23 May 2017

The entertainment world reacts to the Manchester terror attack

Tributes have poured in from stars across the globe following the tragedy

by Joe Ellison
23 May 2017

Manchester attack: the woman who heroically protected over 50 children

Paula Robinson has been praised for her heroism on social media

by Kayleigh Dray
23 May 2017