Count our blessings quoteThe hardest arithmetic to master is that which enables us to count our blessings.

Eric Hoffer

The Chick Flick as Happiness Therapy

I don’t think I am in the minority when I say I absolutely delight at that point in a movie when my lip starts to quiver and my eyes begin to fill with tears. Well, I don’t actually delight in that moment, more like I delight that a movie can bring out those emotions, and now I know why. Those emotions trip some pretty strong biological triggers and even though I am outwardly weeping (not that you’d notice, mind you) I am actually feeling happy.

That’s crazy, right?

But thanks to some “neurocinematic” research, it turns out that people tend to love sad movies for their unexpected benefit: they make you happy.

“I like to watch sad movies when I am in the dumps. The sad scenes are a cathartic release for the hurt inside me.” – Simran Khurana

One well-publicized study was done at Ohio State University with about 350 students. They were asked to watch the movie Atonement, with a plot about two lovers whose lives were derailed from the beginning. I understand that the movie is one unfortunate turn after another and bleary eyes are inescapable.

Viewers were interviewed before and after the film, and the surprising thing is that those who reported being saddest during the film ended up being happier about their lives as a result. Apparently sad movies can make you cry but they give you an appreciation that maybe your life is pretty good. Tragedy very often causes people to count their blessings – and we all know that is one of the strongest ways to recognize and support our own happiness. 

And you thought chick flicks were just for entertainment.

So here’s my thought: we are all pretty familiar with how book clubs work in building relationship with our girlfriends – whether we read the book selection or not. So why not plan an every-once-in-a-while sad movie night with your girlfriends? A little food and beverage, some comfy clothes, tissues and a big screen TV, and you’ll all be happier and feeling better about yourselves in no time.

If you need some recommendations girlfriends …

When Harry Met Sally, Steel Magnolias, Bridesmaids, Love Actually, Knotting Hill, Terms of Endearment, Les Miserables, even Bambi or The Lion King or pretty much any movie with animals in it. I’ve also put Atonement on my list. (& here’s our list of 100 Girlfriend-Recommended Chick Flicks!)

I will admit that any and every time I am flipping through TV channels and Sleepless in Seattle is on, I will sit and watch it to the end – and be happier for it!

What’s your favorite Chick Flick?

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