This post is also available in Dutch.
The 500 blogs that have appeared here the past six years teach us who we are and how our brains work. Which is nice, because facts are just cool. And useful, because you can learn, for instance, what stress is, where happiness comes from, where the tip of your tongue is, and that crying is common.
Survival is the main reason that we burst into tears from time to time. Babies and children ensure with their tears that they receive food, a clean diaper, or even just a warm hug. According to scientists, crying has further developed in adults into an automatic response in the event of extreme pain, anxiety, or raw sadness.
A sad piece of science perhaps, but it’s good to know that crying is human. That tears are very normal when you lose somebody close or have your heart broken. And that there is absolutely no shame in crying while watching sad movie.
(Giving) money makes you happy
Fortunately, we also learn from Donders Wonders what makes us happy. For example, warm support in difficult times. But also a bright sun.
Or a gift. We are happy to receive a present – who doesn’t like unwrapping a surprise gift? – but also to give a present. The latter is the reason why promotions such as the Glass House and Live Aid raise so much money. Indeed, we are just as happy with giving as we are with receiving, brain researchers concluded with some surprise.
Now don’t grab your wallet and make it rain money immediately. Before you know it, you will be short on cash for your own household, and that can cause permanent stress. And if there is anything that can create problems in your head or elsewhere in your body, it’s chronic stress. Luckily, you can do something about this, such as rest, yoga, and, according to some, a dose of marijuana.
Tears of joy
Back to those tears. Although they are often an expression of sadness, tears will flow when we are overwhelmed by intense happiness as well. Consider the emotional tears that go with a marriage proposal or the birth of a child. Or the tears that come when you can no longer stop laughing. But also, the sudden and rare realization that someone close to you is always there for you when needed, can lead to tears of happiness.
In this respect, your body responds in a similar way to enormous joy as it does to agonizing events. And although everyone is different with regards to what makes them happy, there are things you can do to make you feel happier, for example by training or distracting your thoughts.
For me, it’s knowledge that makes me happy. From everyday facts to things that you never actually stop to think about. This happens to be exactly what Donders Wonders has been covering since 2014. How often do you find yourself wondering why we have two nostrils? What happens in your brain when that one word is on the tip of your tongue? Why do we kiss each other (as this is actually a strange activity when you think about it)? Why does time sometimes seem to go faster than usual?
And how can I make sure that I actually remember all these facts?
This blog is written for the special anniversary of our 500th blog post. We would like to know what our readers like best. Do you have a favourite blog or topic Donders Wonders writes (or should write) about? Send us an e-mail and let us know.