Tears of Joy – Why do we cry when happy?


I’m so happy I could cry!

Cry when happy What the heck is up with that? Why do adults cry when happy things happen? Isn’t crying something that we are supposed to do when we are sad? You never see little kids spilling tears of joy? So what changes the way we express our emotions as we get older?

I’m sure there must be some scientific reason for our tears of happiness, but I have a theory of my own. In my book Grown-ups Don’t Skip Have FUN Be Happy Enjoy Life there is a whole chapter on how fun is a childish emotion.  Kids jump for joy, laugh, giggle, and skip with glee. They expressed their emotions with passion in many energetic ways. They could have a violent tantrum of tears one moment followed by a sweet heart-felt cuddle the next. Yet you will never see a child cry why happy moments occur.

As we grow up we are taught to filter and suppress our emotions. We are told to use our indoor voice because it is unacceptable to get too excited in the house. We eventually figure out that tantrums are not productive in the adult world and we discover that our bad behavior can make other people very sad. We are told to stop whining, stop crying, and stop fidgeting. Can you believe that grown-ups even make kids stop laughing when someone farts in public.

Are you starting to see reasons why adults cry when happy?

Could it be because we aren’t allow to cry when we are sad, hurt or angry? For whatever reason, adults are not allowed to boldly express their emotions in public. As we get older we learn that the carefree, anything goes, emotions of childhood have no place in our grow-up life. And it only gets worse. We learn to control our anger and hide our fears. We try not to cry in pubic even when we think our heart is breaking. As for hugs, kisses, and other displays of public affection, boy can that get us in real trouble.

As kids emotions were not a problem, but as grown-ups emotions are one on the most difficult elements we have to handle. Therefore, it is my theory that since we are not “allowed” to jump for joy, or cuddle our loved ones in public places, I believe that our emotions simply leak out of our eyes and we cry when happy. Thank goodness someone hasn’t decided that tears of joy have to go into hiding too.

Emotions are part of being a human. Why we feel we must contain them with such  strict rules I will never understand. So for now we are stuck with tears of happiness and I’m okay with that. Heck I’ll take tears of joy any day because, it’s a of a whole lot better than having emotions come out our nose.


This blog took a lesson from Susan’s book and mixed it with some material from her years as a humor columnist. Get more inspirational humor. Sign up for our newsletter.


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