Why do we watch and read things that we know will make us cry?

A few months ago, I read the book "They Both Die at the End" by author Adam Silvera.

As the title suggests, I obviously knew how the book would end before I even started reading. And I knew I was setting myself up to be emotionally distraught by the time I finished it.

Still, I read it. And, still, the whole time, I was illogically hoping, "Maybe the characters won't actually die!" But, just as predicted, when I read the final words of the book, there I was, sobbing.

And, of course, there's "This is Us." Anyone who watches the show has known for more than a year that the character Jack will die. We just didn't know how he died...until last Sunday.

Thanks to commercials and the previous episode's crock-pot cliffhanger, we all knew that this would be the episode where the cause of Jack's death would finally be revealed. Milo Ventimiglia, the actor who portrays Jack, even warned viewers before it aired: "It’s just an absolute soul-crushing event."

It was no surprise. We all knew what we were getting ourselves into when we turned on NBC (or Hulu) to watch...not once but TWICE within three days! Yet, still, millions of us tuned in, knowing full-well that we were going to have our hearts broken. After I watched, I ended my night in my bath tub, pathetically crying into my glass of wine.

Why do we do this to ourselves?

Experts have found that watching/reading tragedies is actually good for your brain!

Dr. Paul Zak, director of the Center of Neuroeconomics Studies at Claremont Graduate University,  said that, when we watch a sad film or read a tragic novel, we feel emphatic towards the characters, and, when that happens, our brains release the neurochemical oxytocin.

"My lab pioneered the behavioral study of oxytocin and has proven that when the brain synthesizes oxytocin, people are more trustworthy, generous, charitable, and compassionate. I have dubbed oxytocin the 'moral molecule,' and others call it the love hormone," he wrote.

"What we know is that oxytocin makes us more sensitive to social cues around us. In many situations, social cues motivate us to engage to help others, particularly if the other person seems to need our help."

And research shows that many people feel happier after crying. According to the New York Times, survey results reveal that approximately 85 percent of women and 73 percent of men report feeling better after shedding tears.

Clinical psychologist Kristin Wynns told Mashable, "Crying definitely serves an emotional purpose. It’s a release from a buildup of feelings. ... There is something cathartic in having a 'good cry,' and physiologically crying releases stress hormones or toxins from the body. So it’s good for us!"

So turn on that episode of "This is Us." Read books like "They Both Die at the End." Watch "Titanic" for the hundredth time. No, you're not a masochist! You're actually doing yourself a favor!

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