Why Do I Cry When I’m Happy?

Why do I cry when I'm happy? It's a question that's boggled our minds and tear ducts for too long.


Like Goldilocks, the human body is always in search of a happy medium where everything is just right. While you’re probably not testing out porridge or bear beds in the pursuit of mental equilibrium, your body has many mechanisms to keep you balanced with regards to temperature, hunger and pretty much every other sensation you experience.

It’s this biological need for moderation—or more precisely, your nervous system’s desire to even out emotional reactions—that leads to laughs when you’re scared or tears when you’re happy.

The nervous system, of course, knows what it’s doing. “People who [cry when they’re happy] seem to recover better from those strong emotions,” explained psychologist Oriana Aragon, the lead author of a 2014 study at Yale University exploring such antithetical behaviors, when she revealed her team’s findings.

Other examples of negative responses to happy emotions are uncontrollable screaming at a (supposedly) fun event or the desire to pinch a cute baby so much it might hurt. On the other hand, some bad reactions are a little more direct; for example, the heroine in an early version of Goldilocks was so surprised when the three bears found her in their bed that she jumped out of a window and ended up impaled on a church steeple.

So you’d be smart to settle for a few tears in your porridge.

There’s no such thing as a stupid question—especially when it comes to your body, your health or your hygiene. Send us the things that you’ve always wondered about to bm@dollarshaveclub.com.