Image: Woman laughing and wiping her eyes

Happy, Sad, or Chopping Onions—The Science of Why We Cry!

Did you know humans are the only animals that cry in reaction to emotion? Whether brought on by happiness, sadness, surprise, overwhelm, fear, frustration, or onions, from the moment we enter the world, crying is a part of our life. So, why do we cry?

Is there an evolutionary advantage to this reaction? Why do people cry for so many reasons? Do people cry more or less depending on where they live? Could it really be therapeutic? And how does all this weeping affect the people who don’t seem to cry at all?

Whew—there’s a lot to talk about, and we’ve got just the guides to get you through this. So hold on to your hanky—things are about to get a little emotional.

Image: Woman laughing and wiping her eyes, why do we cry?
Source: Quinn Dombrowski // Flickr

Why do we cry?

That’s what Joss Fong, the producer of the video we’re featuring, had been wondering for a while. So to try to gather some insight on this mysterious reaction, she tracked every time she cried for 3 years on a spreadsheet—marking exactly what seemed to bring on her tears.

But obviously, that wasn’t enough. Sure, she can now see what tends to trigger her own waterworks, but what about everyone else? And why does she have that reaction to specific moments?

Joss brings us deeper into the world of our tears to discover why we evolved this reaction and where in our bodies these little droplets come from! Here she is with a team of experts from multiple areas to walk us through the ins and outs of our tears in this video from Vox’s awesome series, Glad You Asked:

Via: Vox 1

Vox is a remarkable publication bringing journalism to a new level. You can explore more of their series, Glad You Asked by clicking here. They bring us deep into questions like, how does the internet work? Will we survive Mars? And why do memes matter?

Make sure you subscribe to their channel to stay up to date with their content and browse more of the amazing stories they’ve brought us! You can also find them on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

Isn’t it fun to learn why we do the things we do?

Even with such a random, practically unpredictable reaction as crying, learning how our bodies work can help us understand ourselves and each other a bit better. Because, even if everything else about us may seem different, we’re nothing more than humans with the tendency to feel a lot, scrunch our faces, have tears overflow from our eyes and a lot of snot come out of our noses.

I don’t know about you, but I think that’s pretty amazing.

This outward expression of emotion allows us to connect to one another in a way that’s unique in nature.

Whether we’re experiencing a moment of awe with the person next to us, expressing vulnerability with someone near and dear to our hearts, when we see tears we know there’s something deeper taking place.

So, when’s the last time you cried?

5 minutes ago? Yesterday? Last week? Last month? Year? That’s one of the really interesting parts about this bodily reaction: it manifests in each of us differently!

For a glimpse at the variety, the channel Cut decided to ask 100 people when the last time they cried was. It’s a beautiful, intimate view of the human experience. And you may just find yourself relating to a few people here. Take a look!

Via: Cut 2

Cut is one of my personal all-time-favorite channels out there right now. They give such an intimate look at so many different lives, really exploring our humanity in a way I haven’t seen before. I highly suggest getting lost in some of their videos over on YouTube (and subscribing). A word of caution—not all of their content is for children.

You can also give them a follow on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter to stay up to date with their work!

If you need a nice cry, the videos in these articles got me real good in the best way:

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Aging Gracefully Alongside Your Loved Ones

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Stay open to new possibilities! You never know what might hit ya’ right in the feels next—but hey, who knows, maybe this time you’ll at least see it coming.

  • Sam

“No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.” —Albert Einstein

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  1. Vox. “Why Do We Cry? – Glad You Asked S1.” YouTube, 2020, Accessed 6 Feb. 2020.
  2. Cut. “When’s the Last Time You Cried? | Keep It 100 | Cut.” YouTube, 2020, Accessed 6 Feb. 2020.
Published: February 28, 2020

Image: Samantha Burns

Sam Burns

Former Editor-In-Chief

Sam wrote and edited hundreds of articles during her time on the Goodness Exchange team from 2016-2021. She wrote about topics from the wonders of nature to the organizations changing the world and the simple joys in life! Outside of the Goodness Exchange, she’s a part-time printmaker, collector of knick-knacks, and procurer of cheeses.

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