Thursday, September 8, 2011

A Good Cry

"Unless you have been very, very lucky, you have undoubtedly experienced events in your life that have made you cry. So unless you have been very, very lucky, you know that a good, long session of weeping can often make you feel better, even if your circumstances have not changed one bit."

— Lemony Snicket (Horseradish: Bitter Truths You Can't Avoid)

I'm a crier.

Not a tears-of-joy-isn't-that-wonderful type of crier, but one who is easily brought to tears in response to stress, frustration, anxiety, relationships, unresolved emotional issues, and . . . well, I can go on and on.

As it seems, I'm not alone. During recent conversations with some of my friends who happen to be facing difficult challenges in their lives at the moment, shedding a tear seems to be par for the course. "I cried three times yesterday," said one friend. "Right now? Too much," said another. "I cry everyday," posted a facebook friend.

Actual scientific studies indicate that women cry more often than men, and for a longer period of time, too. No surprise there. However, at least two men in my unscientific facebook poll about crying admitted that they do cry occasionally, and I have seen my hubby shed a tear or two or more from time to time.

In my small poll, the #1 reason most people cried was in response to personal problems. Once again, not a surprise to me. What is surprising to me is that from a very young age, we are told, "Don't cry!" or what I've been told a gazillion times, "You're too sensitive."

Well, pass the tissues! "It's my party and I'll cry if I want to" because crying can be a good thing.

2. Stress relief: In most cases, a good, long cry tends to make me feel better. A study by the University of South Florida found that almost everyone feels better after a cry, and that personality has a major effect on how often we cry. An overwhelming majority of participants reported mood improvement after crying.

3. Crying as portrayed in movies, TV, music, or literature can prompt an emotional response from the audience be it sad, empathetic, happy, or joyful. Here are three of my favorites:

This scene from A League of Their Own:

or this scene from Forrest Gump (Yes indeed, I'm a Tom Hanks fan!)

or this song by Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova which in my view is a very good song, but makes me well up a bit when I hear it.

1. Babies cry, and I love babies. I didn't always like when my babies were crying especially in the middle of the night, during church, or in line at the grocery store, but it did let me know that they needed me to comfort them - or simply feed them or change their diaper!

Stress relief, stirring emotions, and babies to soothe - my three good things about crying. Do share yours.

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