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It’s time to quit the chaos

With endless calls on our attention, we’re constantly playing catch-up. It feels like we’re deluged by more emails, stuff, opportunities and information than ever before. So, how do we go about reclaiming our lives, asks Anita Chaudhuri?

Recently, I came across a quote on Instagram from the Dalai Lama that stopped me, Road Runner-style, in my tracks. ‘There are only two days in the year when nothing can be done. One is called yesterday and the other is called tomorrow, so today is the right day to love, believe, do and mostly to live.’

I’m sure these words were designed to instil a sense of inner peace. But, in my case, reading this wisdom, I mostly felt gripped by panic. How the heck am I supposed to do all this top-priority loving, believing, doing and living when I am drowning in 274 unread emails, a to-do list of household tasks and an ambitious project to pull off? Not to mention the vital stuff of life, such as seeing the people I love, making soup and drinking wine.

“People are scared of self-reflection. They think: ‘But what if I decide that I’m feeling crap today?’ Well, actually, it’s all right to feel that”


The only comfort is that I’m not alone. According to a recent survey* of 2,000 British workers, 46 per cent said they wished they could reduce the amount of time they spend ticking off dreary life admin tasks and chores. Seven in 10 said they believed their lives had become just ‘too busy’ and wished they could make more time for themselves, with phones being cited as a major drain on time and energy.

Seeking some wise counsel, I turn to psychotherapist Derek Draper, who has written a new book, Create Space (Profile Books, £11.99), which examines the concept of modern overwhelm. Draper believes that human beings respond to different kinds of space – physical, mental, psychic and relational – in similar ways. ‘If I put you in a small box and nailed closed the lid, you wouldn’t like it. You would have a bodily reaction to it. The conditions of modern society affect us in much the same way. We end up feeling out of control and overwhelmed, as hemmed in as a chicken in a cage. And that’s why it’s so important to address space in all its forms as an issue – because it’s affecting us.’

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