Crying from happiness?

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Dear E,

Today I realized that I have never cried from happiness. You know me, I’m not really much of a crier in the first place. The few occasional times that I do cry it’s usually out of anger or immense pain. So then I got to thinking, why do we even cry? Most people cry when they are sad. But how does sadness make you cry? It’s weird because emotions seem so intangible, but the act of crying is a very physical thing. Sadness is an unquantifiable thing. You don’t say, “My sadness level is at a 9.2,” you just say,” I am very sad.” This also got me thinking about heartbreak. Say someone breaks up with you or someone in your immediate family dies. You feel extremely, extremely sad. You’re heartbroken. But your heart hasn’t actually broken. Why do we feel all of our emotions in our hearts? Why not in our toes? Or our ears? When you become really sad, there is absolutely nothing wrong with your heart. So why do you feel it in your chest? So back to my original point: crying from happiness is even rarer than crying from sadness. I think people cry from happiness when they are overwhelmed by everything around them. It’s all the good and the bad and the happy and the sad. I guess crying is just some sort of survival mechanism. I’m going to go google this shit and ponder the act of crying and heartbreak for a while. If you want to read a really good article about why people cry then check this link out. http://www.webmd.com/balance/features/why-we-cry-the-truth-about-tearing-up

I love you and miss you so much!

-P

Response from E:

Hey! Interesting post and article!

I cried from happiness when I found out I was a Gryffindor on Pottermore. And I frequently cry because life is just so beautiful and overwhelming, like you said. I cry as a reaction to various emotions at least once a week. I actually think this may trace back to the introvert/extrovert difference (for all new readers, P’s MBTI is ENFP and mine is INFJ). Remember how I was telling you that I read in Susan Cain’s book, “Quiet” (which I highly recommend, especially if you identify as an introvert), that introverts usually have more sensitive physiological systems? For example, when the taste of lemon is placed on a subject’s tongue, the subject is likely to secrete more saliva if she is an introvert. I think the same is probably true for tears. So that’s probably why you don’t cry as much as I do. Or, it could be that I am just a giant sissy, which is definitely a possibility.

As for the expression “heartbreak”, sadness is not just psychological. Sadness can bring physical symptoms, hence “heartbreak.” The brain stops releasing the endorphins that decrease pain and ramps up the anterior cingulate cortex, which regulates physical pain distress, according to this article: http://www.science20.com/variety_tap/science_behind_heartbreak_progress

Brains make sure sadness hurts just like they make sure getting burned hurts. That way, we will not repeat the offending action. I couldn’t find info on why you feel sadness in the chest area.

Loads of love! I miss you more!

E

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