03/27/2012 07:19 am ET Updated Mar 27, 2012

Why We Love Tearjerkers

Ever felt curiously satisfied after bawling your eyes out at a heart-wrenching flick? You’re not alone.

In fact, new research has found that tragic films can actually make us feel happier. The findings, published in the journal Communication Research, suggest that those tearjerkers have a way of bringing our attention to important relationships in our lives.

Tragic stories often focus on themes of eternal love, and this leads viewers to think about their loved ones and count their blessings," Silvia Knobloch-Westerwick, associate professor of communication at Ohio State University and lead author on the study, said in a statement.

The more people were focused on loved ones during the movie, the happier they felt afterward -- on the other hand, those who focused more on themselves (saying things like "My life isn't as bad as the character in this movie) didn't experience the same uptick.

The researchers asked 361 college students to watch a shortened version of the 2007 film "Atonement" -- a story of love, death and war (classic tear-jerking topics, no?). The participants answered several questions aimed at measuring how happy they were with their lives both before and after viewing.

After the showing, the audience rated how much they enjoyed the film and explained how the movie compelled them to reflect on their own lives, goals and relationships. Those who felt saddest during the movie were more likely to write about real people and experiences during the reflection period. And those who thought about their own relationships as a result of watching the movie felt happiest.

So it's no wonder we can't stop watching "The Notebook" -- all that heartache actually ends up making us feel good in the end.

When we first heard about the study, we couldn't help but share the movies we love to weep over (the list, it seems, is interminable). And when we reached out to the Twittersphere, we learned we're not the only saps. Check out some of your favorite cathartic tearjerkers, then tell us: do you choke up at any flick in particular? Tweet at us @HealthyLiving with #tearjerkers or let us know in the comments section below.