I’m going to get a little vulnerable here. It all started when I began to cry.
Have you ever been watching a show … from The Dirty Dozen to Star Trek to Disney’s Onward … and just started to have tears flow? I don’t mean those chick flicks or even the Hallmark rom-coms. But the ones filled with action, explosions everywhere, where what flowed was less conversation and more spurting blood from where Wolverine sliced and diced everyone in the room.
Well, this past week I got hit a couple times. One was a spunky new SyFy series, Resident Alien, and another was during the binge watching of Mad About You. I dabbed my eyes and turned away from my wife. I didn’t desire to let her know how emotional it was hitting me.
I said I was tired. I blamed it on being trapped inside during the ice storm. I even said the hot tea I was sipping must have steamed up my eyes. I should’ve blamed Trump – he’s being blamed for everything else. But the real culprit is Oxytocin, or what has been called ‘the moral molecule.’
There was an experiment that showed watching an emotional moment, whether live or fiction like a movie/TV show, increases the level of oxytocin. And research shows 92% of people have been reduced to tears during at least one movie. The rest are psychopathic robots (I made that last line up.)
We enter the minds of others, we see the world through their story telling, and then oxytocin greatly improves our capacity for empathy.
Years ago, when Mel Gibson’s The Passion hit theaters, our church got permission to hand out small packets of Kleenex. We got thousands of little packets, labeled them with our church website, and stood at the doors handing them out. There was this one man, big, I mean big, Ving Rhames big, refused and said he doesn’t cry. Yeah, right. During the movie, as I stood one back at one of the critical dramatic moments, I heard sniffles, small sobs, and the such. But there, row 8 on the end seat, sobbing out loud and out of control … Mr I Don’t Cry himself. I took him a couple packets right then and there. And after the movie … he gave me a bear hug, a grizzly bear hug.
Tears make us more empathetic. Empathy is an important aspect of emotional intelligence. They help us relate to others. It opens our minds to understanding others. It is not a sign of weakness but of humanity. Even Jesus cried. So, if you cry at movies, you’re probably emotionally strong and relate well with people. And that’s not weakness.
Interestingly, it also makes us more generous and likely to give money to charity. And then be happier because we did give.
God bless our oxytocin … that chemical that fills us with empathy, altruism, and goodness of life.
Or, as one author puts it …
If the eyes are the window to the soul, tears are the Windex: They keep things in perspective.J Haltwinger
So, I’m not really an emotional wreck. I’m human, and I feel. So I think I am going to turn on the Disney Channel and grab box of Kleenex. But I’ll do it while my wife is at work. I only go so far.
What movie or TV show makes you tear up? Or are you one of those psychopathic robots.?