‘Nothing good ever comes from thinking realistically’: Why Gen-Z is going 'delulu'

Head in the clouds with all that 'delulu'.
Head in the clouds with all that 'delulu'. Copyright Canva.
By Amber Louise Bryce
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Going 'delulu' is Gen-Z's latest answer to manifesting what you want out of life - but is there any truth to it?


That hot guy who gave you a passing glance in the street? Madly in love with you. 

Bought a scratch card? Start planning how to spend your fortunes. 

Crippling self-doubt and anxiety? Babe, you’re amazing and gorgeous and talented and set for world domination.

If you’ve ever thought like this, you might be 'delulu', a popular new slang for delusional – and oddly comforting (albeit chaotic) philosophy for life among some young people on the video sharing app TikTok.

Delulu is essentially a rebranding of last year’s ‘lucky girl syndrome’ trend, which proposed saying things like, “everything always works out for me,” to bring about positive energy and inspire the universe to, well, make everything always work out for you.

While delulu tends to be more focused on manifesting success in relationships, both trends are aggressively optimistic and play on centuries-old ideas of manifestation, affirmation and the law of attraction.

Why is it called delulu?

The term itself originates from the K-pop community circa 2014, where it was commonly used as an insult towards fellow fans acting delusional. Think Jungkook is going to spot you in a crowd and sweep you off your feet? Totally delulu.

As with all niche internet slang, delulu has since morphed into mainstream online conversation among Gen-Z, broadening its definition to anyone acting with fantastical beliefs. For the optimists on TikTok, it's been given its current positive and humorous self-help slant, used to promote the potential benefits of radical self-belief.

What’s the philosophy behind delulu?

The idea that our thoughts can attract a specific desired reality, delulu is mostly about seeing life through a rose-tinted, excessively romanticised lens.

“Nothing good ever comes from thinking realistically," says TikTok user @romaneexvirgara, a business coach and dedicated delulu spreader.

“You need to think that you are the baddest bitch and everyone is obsessed with you. If you think they’re obsessed with you, they are."

While a little over the top, delulu isn’t completely delulu. Its manifestation theory is rooted in various aspects of age-old philosophical traditions. 

The stoic philosopher and Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius once wrote: “The things you think about determine the quality of your mind.” 

Referring to the strength of our perception, a popular theme within stoicism, Aurelius did not believe that our thoughts have any kind of magical abilities. If anything he thought the opposite. That reality is ambivalent to our feelings about it. What Aurelius did believe though was that we have the power to shape our feeling into the actions we desire, in turn, changing our reality. 

For example, if we perceive everything to be terrible, it's likely to become a self-fulfilling prophecy: “Our life is what our thoughts make it,” wrote Aurelius. 

Of course, when discussing anything to do with manifestation, we'd be remiss not to mention the less philosophically wise and more pseudoscientific 'The Secret', a 2006 self-help book by Rhonda Byrne based on a film of the same name. After talk show host Oprah Winfrey openly praised the book's impact on her life, it became somewhat of a holy grail for those looking to change their lives through thoughts alone, and continues to inspire modern day iterations like delulu. 

Is delulu really the solulu?

In a world of war, rising costs, constant comparison and searing dread spread by a swollen social media landscape intent on tangling our every thought, the idea that we could just tell ourselves everything is good and it will be is undeniably appealing. 

While there is certainly some truth in our perceptions helping to shape our reality, it's also important to keep some of our thoughts grounded in that same reality. Self-love is great, but telling yourself a guy who ghosts you is doing it because he loves you? Not so much. 


Sometimes situations are just rubbish, and convincing ourselves otherwise could lead to being hurt more or even exploited. 

But as with all TikTok trends, delulu was never meant to be taken that seriously, anyway. At its heart, it's a way of shrinking life's problems into a 60 second goofy solution, which sparks for a moment the hopeful idea that we could so simply swipe away our negative experiences.

And maybe, sometimes, we can. 

Whether closing the tab on a bloated e-mail inbox or contemplating buying cowboy boot Crocs, sometimes it's necessary to be a little delulu.

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