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Crying: Why Shedding a Tear is Your Emotional Superpower!

Have you ever wondered why sometimes we just need a good cry? Even when we're bursting with happiness, those tears find their way out! Inspired by Arthur C. Brooks' incredible article in the Atlantic, "The Not-So-Secret Key to Emotional Balance," let's dig deep and unravel the fab mystery of why tears are seriously your emotional BFF!

Crying: It's Not Just for Drama Queens!

The act of crying is complex, a nuanced expression that can accompany both grief and joy, sorrow and elation. Myths, art, and religions have long celebrated this quintessentially human act, elevating it beyond mere physiology. Even the Christian Bible's shortest verse, "Jesus wept," encapsulates this complexity, suggesting that the experience of crying may offer a window into something profoundly spiritual.

Let’s face it; we've all been there—ugly crying because we watched a touching movie or because we're just overwhelmed. Sometimes, we can feel it coming like it is bursting at the dam, and sometimes it pops out of nowhere. While it may sound odd, crying is your own personal emotional soundboard. It's not just for theatrics; it's more like your soul saying, "Hey, I need a little TLC right now!"

woman crying on a bed surrounded by paper

Your Emotional Seesaw: Finding the Balance

If you think crying is a sign you're going off the deep end, think again! Our emotional life is like a seesaw, and crying is the playground buddy who helps keep you balanced. From that article mentioned earlier, Brooks reported that Dutch psychologist Ad Vingerhoets found that helplessness and loss often kickstart the waterworks. It comes as no surprise that such strong emotions can leave you feeling overwhelmed and initiate tears.

The Science Behind Crying

Scientists are theorizing that you aren’t just crying to cry. While the precise physiological mechanisms are still a subject of research, some scientists hypothesize that crying helps eliminate stress hormones like cortisol. Essentially, by letting those tears out, you are easing yourself back into a centered, balanced state. It is kind of like how when too much static accumulates, you get a shock. While the shock may be uncomfortable, it releases the energy and returns you to a normal state.

Happy Tears, Don't Fear!

The phenomenon of crying when we are happy puzzles researchers, but it follows a similar logic. Isn't it super confusing when we start crying during a standing ovation or at our best friend's wedding? But wait, this isn't the universe going haywire.

It is theorized that the act of crying may help us 'reset' emotionally. Again, it brings us back to a balanced state, but this time, when emotions become overwhelmingly positive. When we're extremely happy, our body still craves balance. So, those joyful tears? They're your body's fun way of saying, "Okay, chill! You're ecstatic, and that's fantastic, but let's get back to our happy medium!"

Let's Talk Emotional Health and the Joy of Balance

So, we've established that crying is basically your emotional superhero, but let's chat about why that's so crucial for your day-to-day sparkle. You know how roller coasters are thrilling, but you wouldn't want to live on one? The same goes for emotions. If you're constantly spiraling between euphoria and despair, it's like riding that roller coaster non-stop—it loses its thrill, and you don't feel so great afterward.

By lending us a helping hand to achieve emotional balance, crying helps us maintain a more even-keeled approach to life's ups and downs. This means less stress, better decision-making, and a general feeling of well-being. Who wouldn't want that, right? Plus, in a super unpredictable world, isn't it comforting to know you've got this natural, built-in mood stabilizer?

Girl crying with her friend

Not Always the Right Time for Tears

Okay, quick side note: we all know there are times when crying might not be the most opportune moment. Work is often one of those places—unless you're an actor, in which case, bravo! But you get what I mean. While it would be awesome if we could burst out laughing or start crying anywhere and everywhere, society doesn’t roll that way, so not all situations are conducive to the therapeutic benefits of crying. While I certainly don’t suggest bottling up your emotions forever, you may want to wait until you are in an environment where you feel supported and understood so you get the best benefits out of that cry.

The Emotional Rainbow: It's Not Just About Tears, Folks!

Let's not stop at crying; there's a whole spectrum of emotions waiting for their standing ovation! Have you ever felt the heat of anger or the chill of jealousy? Yeah, we all have. These aren't villainous feelings; they're just other hues in our emotional rainbow.

Anger is Not the Enemy, It's a Messenger

Take anger, for instance. It might seem like a flaming hot potato you just want to toss away, but wait a second! Anger is often your soul's way of saying, "Hey, something isn't right here, and you should pay attention." Instead of treating it like a party crasher, invite it in for a chat. Understand what's causing it and then look for a constructive outlet. It could be kickboxing, journaling, or maybe a deep convo with a friend. It could even be a personal fear manifesting itself in a situation where it has no place. Sometimes, you really have to dig to figure out why something or someone is making you angry, but it is worth it. The point is, let anger have its say, then release it responsibly.

Finding Your Emotional Outlet: One Size Does NOT Fit All

Let's get real for a second—what works for your BFF may not work for you. Sarah may love yoga to find her zen, but you might find peace in painting abstract art. The key is to experiment and discover what truly vibes with you. Whether it's dancing like no one's watching or playing the drums, find your emotional "off switch" that also fuels your joy.

Plus, it is vital to recognize that what used to work versus what works now and even what works in the future may not be the same. As we go through the seasons and chapters of life, we may need to modify our emotional outlets to suit our new life situations. That’s okay, so don’t be afraid to experiment.

Time and Space: Your Emotional VIP Room

Life's a whirlwind, no doubt about it! However, remember to carve out some sacred space for you and your feels amidst the hustle and bustle. Think of it as an emotional VIP room where all your feelings—joy, sorrow, anger, excitement—get the front-row seats. In this space, let yourself feel without judgment. Dive deep into understanding what each emotion is telling you. It's like hosting a get-together where every emotion brings its own dish to the table. Sample each one; you might find new favorites or understand your go-tos better!

Why This All Matters

Emotions are not just random glitches in your system but integral to who you are! By giving yourself permission to experience, understand, and appreciate all your emotions, you're actually tuning into your inner universe. This makes you more empathetic, insightful, and oh-so-beautifully human. Plus, balancing all these emotions? It's like being an emotional DJ, mixing the beats of joy, the rhythms of sorrow, and the tempo of anger into the masterpiece that is you! So next time you feel an emotional wave coming, don't run away. Surf it, enjoy the ride, and remember that each emotion adds a unique color to your life's masterpiece. Rock on, you emotional Picasso! Keep coloring outside the lines! Until next time, life is heavy enough; searching for happiness shouldn’t be an extra burden. Get a dose of happiness delivered straight to your inbox. Subscribe to happy mail, delivered twice a month.

And, let’s connect on social at @everydayhappinesswithkatie and join the community on the hashtags #IntentionalMargins and #everydayhappinesswithkatie on Instagram.

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