On the other hand, I laugh frequently. And we’re talking everything from polite tittering to uncontrollable belly laughter, which brings me to tears.
I’m a fan of the LOL, the ROTFL, and the MDR (the French equivalent) – though the real thing, rather than simulated signs or abbreviated messaging to indicate degrees of amusement. In fact, I’m all for allowing our emotions to find a healthy way “out.”
Appropriately, of course.
The Benefits of a Good Cry
Sometimes, you just need a good cry. And while we may train ourselves to hold back the tears – our young men certainly learn to keep a dry eye – the health benefits of crying are well known.
Citing Professor Michael Trimble, in “I Cry, Therefore I Am,” written in 2012:
… crying becomes a tool of our social repertory: grief and joy, shame and pride, fear and manipulation.
As for keeping our tears walled in, my eyes are easily irritated by virtue of the hours I spend in front of my computer screen. As a consequence, I rarely indulge in that cleansing “good cry” that once swept away negative feelings and stress, leaving me relieved, even uplifted. And I wish that weren’t the case. A good cry chases away the demons and fatigue, and for many of us, we feel better after.
We Feel Better After Crying
According to MD Junction, the health benefits of crying are many – as are the types of tears we actually shed, which include “emotional” tears, basal tears, and eye watering. Typically, we shed them all, and those emotional tears are important.
The article explains:
Emotional or stress-related tears are thought to help us through difficult times in a number of ways… Physically, they are thought to wash toxic chemicals out of our bodies, while psychologically giving your feelings a good airing is thought to be a healthy tonic…
When it comes to profoundly painful situations, it’s virtually impossible for some of us to prevent the gut from twisting, the throat from choking up, and the eyes from welling up; sorrow wants its way out. Apparently, this has benefits:
Deep crying is generally felt to be good for you in that it exposes and expresses deep emotions, which means they can then be dealt with.
And this brings me to a news item on Reuters that references a ban on crying and laughing, in the Xinjiang region of China.
To be more explicit, the attempted ban is aimed at eliminating crying at funerals and laughter at weddings.
Ban on Displays of Emotion?
Referring to Islamic extremists, the region’s governor, Nur Bekri, is quoted as saying:
“They … push the banning of watching television… reading newspapers, singing and dancing, not allowing laughter at weddings nor crying at funerals..”
Not to diminish the very serious and frightening aspects of this story, namely issues of religious freedom, religious extremism, and incidents of terrorism, the underlying reasoning is to keep a lid on emotions that might otherwise explode in dangerous ways. Yet I am struck by the concept that it’s possible to squash two of the most natural human responses.
No doubt my impression is informed by my western perspective, upbringing, and conditioning. And while I don’t care for certain public displays of affection, weddings and funerals (especially) are certainly times when emotions run high.
Can you imagine standing stoically at the graveside of someone you love? Perhaps you can, and sometimes, the tears don’t flow when we expect them to. Can you imagine squelching laughter when you are overcome by joy or caught off-guard by unexpected delight? For me, that one’s even tougher.
The Benefits of Laughter
As for laughter, what about the irrepressible giggle in the elevator that turns into a tidal wave of mirth – and for no reason we can discern? Isn’t laughter contagious? Doesn’t it alleviate feelings of stress and isolation, among others?
What about our “learned” laughter that nonetheless flows easily when we hear familiar jokes or nicknames? Don’t we use laughter as a social tool in certain circumstances?
How about that chortle that you never see or hear coming, that nothing could have stopped? Isn’t laughter then instinctual? Babies and toddlers laugh, long before they’ve mastered the social skills of using emotional expression to their advantage.
… Humans are hardwired for laughter…
Studies have shown that laughter eases pain. How fabulous is that? And let’s not forget that research also tells us that working that funny bone burns calories – apparently 50 calories per 10 to 15 minutes of laughter.
Sign me up! One dose of cleansing crying per month, thank you very much, with a side of eye drops in case of drying effects. More importantly, I’ll take regular servings of laughter daily, please. In public or in private.
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