【1】Two years ago Shirley Michels of St. Louis found herself getting up earlier and earlier, and going to bed later and later, just to meet everyday demands. The wife, mother and ophthalmic technician met her responsibilities『责职;任务』, but lacked time for the things that mattered most.
【2】She and her husband, Vic, an attorney, began searching for ways to simplify『简化;精简』their lives. “We had to decide what was really important,” says Shirley. They knew they wanted more time to play with their three-year-old son, Ryan, to exercise and eat right, and to nurture『培育;养育』friendships.
【3】So the couple chose to live more modestly『适中的;适度的』, shopping with care for necessities and enjoying inexpensive pleasures such as reading, cooking and going to the park. Shirley quit her job and began working part time from home. She printed up business cards that read “At your service—buy yourself a little time,” and hired herself out for personal tasks such as shopping, paying bills, organizing parties, doing Internet research—whatever clients needed.
【4】“I still work hard, but being able to control my hours makes all the difference,” she says. “I can carve out『(雕)刻出;开辟出』time to take my son to the zoo or play basketball with him. My stress headaches are gone. Having a chance to get to know neighbors not only has been fun, but it’s also helped us further simplify.
【5】According to trend watchers『趋势;时尚』, the Michelses are far from『完全不』 alone in wanting to slow down『减速』 and live a more satisfying life. A Gallup Poll found that half of all Americans claim they lack enough time to do what they want. Fifty-four percent of parents say they spend too little time with their children, and 47 percent of married couples complain that they lack time together.
【6】Where does the time go? For most people, work and commuting『(口语)通勤』dominate『在……中占主要部分』the day. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, one out of five of us put in 49 or more hours a week on the job; one out of 12 logged 60 hours or more.
【7】Then there’s the rich smorgasbord of modern life—so much information to sift through, so many products beckoning. “We’re wearing ourselves out『wear out:(使)疲乏;(使)厌倦』trying to have it all,” says Elaine St. James, author of Living the Simple Life.
【8】Simplifying means becoming aware of the ways, big and small, that we expend money, time and energy, and then raking steps to curb the waste. Here, from the experts, are some suggestions for gaining control over life’s hassles in order to have time for the pleasures.