It seems there is an upsurge of “Lifestyle Design”, “Lifehacking”, “Personal Empowerment” or to use a milder term “Personal Development” blogs and sites, lately.

Those are characterized by photos of their authors either grinning and showing a thumbs up, lifting their hands to the sky in the “reception pose” or doing Yoga on mountaintops (lensflare included). Next to those photos you will find headlines and titles full of shameless hyperboles, exaggeration and hot air about … what, exactly?

I’m not sure I know, nor am I fully convinced that their authors do, either.

Obviously a lot of seminars are being offered, books sold, talks held, “buzz” spread.

Man’s (sometimes silly) Search for Meaning

Yesterday, when I stumbled over another one of those, I asked myself: How come the generation of our grannies didn’t need all of that self importance?

Were they above and beyond Tofu, Zen gardens and self-affirmations of “universal abundance”?

Personally, I think that all of the above is actually a very specific signifier of the times we inhabit.

Large areas of the mind that used to filled with tradition, local rituals (e.g. family) and religion have given way to an increasing vacuum that is inhabited by a vague yearning for meaning in a globalized, scattered world that is infinitely eclectic and standardized at the same time.

The recipe is old, yet people still fall for it: A little bit Buddhism here, a few positive thinking clichés there. Then the obligatory talk about “goal-setting” and “getting rich”. Soak it in “personal stories of success” and wrap it in ridiculously exaggerated awesomely packaged hot air. Rinse & Repeat. (Add “proof for success” statistics as desired.) Done.

I was never a fan of it, neither am I now.


Instead of throwing money at people with sedated smiles and watery eyes, listening to Mr. X today, Mrs. Y tomorrow – why not go out and actually live life? Yeah, I know – they already told you that. All of that “live in the moment” stuff.

But, seriously.

Instead of paying attention – and again – not negligible amounts of green to people who are yapping endlessly about the “meaning of life” – why not just go out and live it instead of talking and thinking about it all the time?

There’s a lot in it: Ups and Downs. Bags full of surprises. Streaks of luck (and bad luck). Clouds of uncertainty. All of it shrouded in a huge baffling sense of hysteric laughter! (It seems nobody actually has any clue what we are doing here, least of all the self-proclaimed “wise ones”.)

Photo credit: clarita from