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Zahra Branches Out: Laughter Therapy

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Northwestern chapter.

One of my best branching out experiences happened about a year ago. It was also one of my weirdest, but I doubt that’s a coincidence.
My friend told me that Northwestern’s Happiness Club was holding a laughter therapy session, and we knew we had to go. As sophomores, the excitement of being at college was wearing off. We wanted to do something to remind us why college is amazing, and being coached through laughing for an hour seemed like a start. We always though this YouTube video was hilarious, so we jumped at the chance to be like him for an hour, no matter how idiotic we looked (we looked very, very stupid, but it was worth it).
Our instructor coached us through different exercises, including running around the room, cracking up and hugging different people, most of whom we had never met before. I won’t say that the laughter, which started off as forced, eventually became completely genuine as everyone became comfortable with the exercises. People were definitely nervous, and it showed. A lot of the laughter wasn’t so much of the uproarious, belly-produced variety as it was the nervous, “haha I’m already here, can’t leave now,” kind. That’s what I liked so much about it, though.

I can have very high expectations. I basically feel like everything I experience at this age should change my life. My life isn’t a movie, though; not every new thing I try will end up being some momentous experience seared into my brain. When I try something new, automatic visions of myself as an expert at whatever new activity it is swim in front of my eyes. Motivation is a good thing, but this is setting myself up for disappointment. Not everything that I try is going to come naturally to me, and I won’t always be able to get 100% comfortable with the people that I end up having to spend time with. We didn’t all end up becoming best friends, forever bonded by the giggles we shared in laughter therapy. And that’s perfectly ok.
Laughter therapy was the kind of thing that I went to because I thought it was supposed to show me how cool college can be, and how many new, sort of weird things I can try while I’m here. As I was leaving, I picked up a pamphlet about how to become a certified laughter therapist. While I was reading it, I realized that not every new thing I do needs to leave some indelible mark on my psyche or change my career path. With that, I closed the pamphlet and left the room, smiling to myself the whole time.

Monica is a sophomore at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. She spent her early years growing up in a small town in Minnesota, but spent the last half of her life in Seoul, South Korea where she developed a city girl love for good food finds and fashion. Journalism has been a major part of her life, but she can also be found relaxing with a cup of coffee, watching movies, and spending time with loved ones. Though she has a tough exterior, Monica is actually a romantic who loves the power of words, the importance of strength in any endeavor, and who always wears her heart on her sleeve.