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Is being partially deluded the key to maintaining happiness?

The world is burning, our phones are making us depressed, and the cost of living is rising exponentially. Could adopting a slight sense of delusion be the only way to make it through?

If someone was to call you delusional, it’d be perfectly normal to be offended.

At the very least, you’d be inclined to reflect long and hard about what it is you’re apparently being delusional about. But imagine you recognised and admitted your own delusions, consciously embracing them as a sort of coping mechanism?

As the list of TikTok promoted personality shifts continues expanding (surely you haven’t forgotten about goblin mode and feral girl summer already?), young people everywhere are now choosing to be deluded about their reality in order to maintain their happiness.

The more I read up on the trend, I’ve realised this is something I’ve been doing for years without knowing it. And when almost half of Gen-Z’s worldwide (46 percent, according to Deloitte’s research) say they feel stressed and anxious most of the time, can you really blame us for wanting to indulge in a little escapism?

Deluded by choice

Throughout our days, we’re bombarded by unsubtle reminders that there are not-so-great people in the world who are up to awful things. These will pop up across news headlines, on television, and our social media feeds.

Indeed, it’s easy to get bogged down, but when this isn’t being forced to the forefront of your mind, why not put on your metaphorical rose-coloured glasses, embrace positive delusion, and believe that most people you encounter have good (or at least not horrible) intentions?

Why not believe that everyone on the street is approaching the day with an emboldened sense of positivity, just as you are? It’s likely that your positive (and maybe slightly deluded) energy will rub off on people you interact with and make daily experiences more bearable.

TikTok is picking up on this behaviour and calling it ‘being delusional.’ But psychologists have long been coining this mindset as ‘magical thinking’. It’s the kind of attitude that enables people to let go, kick back, to enjoy themselves and life’s simple pleasures.

In order to safeguard mental health, gain a sense of stability, and escape from the harsh realities of our world – being deluded can be as simple saying the mantra ‘everything is going to be amazing’ or looking at a friend and saying, ‘we are the coolest people at the party.’

And though TikTok might be popularising manifesting a better life through ‘delusion’ to Gen-Z, some of our parents would’ve adopted this from a psychology book called ‘The Happiness Hypothesis,’ which took a deep dive to research this attitude way back in 2006.

A quote from the book states, ‘Evidence shows that people who hold pervasive positive illusions about themselves, their abilities, and their future prospects are mentally healthier, happier and better liked than people who lack such illusions.’

And on TikTok, one user has said ‘Be delusional. Fuck what everybody else is talking about and the whole ‘be realistic’ [way of thinking]. My key to life, the reason why I have so much fun, is that I’m delusional as fuck.’

All I have to say is, same girl!


Adopting delusion can help us dream bigger and better

Looking at the bigger life picture, it’s worth noting that those who dare to dream big are often called delusional.

Any time a group has fought for equal rights – whether that be racial or gender equality or LGBTQ+ rights – there has been immense pushback from people who believe these things aren’t worth advocating for because they seem impossible to achieve.

But the fact that we started out with water, dirt, and trees and somehow ended up with Wi-Fi, cryptocurrency, and NFTs worth millions of dollars should be enough proof that today, truly anything is possible.

Perhaps you’ve watched Kanye Wests’ Netflix documentary and saw how many people thought he was delusional for trying to expand beyond his role as a well-renowned producer and into a rapper. I don’t have to tell you how that turned out.

Maybe being delusional isn’t for you. It’s understandable if working to be the solution in everyday life – rather than ignoring difficulties – is more fulfilling.

But if there’s any chance you’re suffering from eco-anxiety, burnout, or simply feeling out of sorts… I’ll be here, embracing being delusional, and welcoming you to the fun side with open arms.