I once watched a video that showed a reunion between a long-lost cat and his owner. In that video, the owner was seen crying with joy because she could meet her cat again. At that moment, I felt the emotions and started crying too.
As we know, crying is often associated with anger, frustration, or deep sadness. However, the fact is that we can cry with joy. In a 2018 study, 68 percent of respondents stated that a happy moment or something good can make them cry. Thus, crying with joy is perfectly normal. But why does it occur?
Behind Tears of Joy
Many researchers tried to understand why people cry when they are happy. Crying which is more closely associated with frustration, anger, or sadness can be confusing when it happens during happy moments. For decades, scientists have drawn up why tears of joy exist, these are some of the possible reasons:
1. Depressed feeling
Initial theory said this situation occurs because of depressed feelings. That means, someone who cries when they experience something good, has an unresolved feeling of sadness. Many researchers have argued this theory for years, but it seems this is one of the first possible explanations to understand why we cry when we're happy.
2. Crying can regulate our body
Tears contain enzymes, lipids, electrolytes, and metabolites. In addition to that, emotional tears might also contain other proteins and hormones. However, there is a theory that states the release of stress hormones like prolactin and leu-enkephalin does not help regulate physical homeostasis and body emotion, even though those hormones can support your mood to be better and calm.
3. Raising sensitivity and social relation
Crying with any emotion could also be a way to show our sensitivity as humans. When we cry, we give a sign to others to empathize with us. This happens when we cry because of a moment of happiness or sadness. Scientists believe crying is one of the ways we establish social relationships with others.
4. You feel helpless because of your emotions
Another theory stated by Miceli and Castelfranchi is that all tears come from frustration, helplessness, and surrender.
5. Helping to manage intense emotions
Crying is an unavoidable condition when your emotion is at the highest point. Whether it's joy, frustration, or anger. Although you do not always let your tears go down, you feel often. Some studies showed that crying can help you manage intense emotions. When you cry, it feels like you let your emotions out. So, when you're happy and then cry, maybe you're feeling overflowing emotions.
Those are some of the reasons why you cry when you're happy. Don't be confused by your feelings, because feeling various emotions at once is perfectly normal for humans.