14 This interpretation of the category romance’s poetic functioning is in line with suggestions made by literary scholar Thomas Roberts, who compares the often misconceived aesthetic mechanisms underlying popular fiction (which he refers to as “vernacular fiction”) to those at play in canonical poetry (such as the Spenserian stanza): “As suggested earlier, the pattern seems to play much the same role in vernacular fiction that the metrical scheme plays in a poem. In both cases, readers sense the formal scheme as the norm that permits them to appreciate the figural variations. The writers are like the jazz musicians who give us a familiar melody at the opening of the piece so that we understand the variations that follow. We do not listen for that melody. We listen for the variation” (165-166).
Our parents were onto something when they reminded us to always write our thank-you notes—doing so can make you healthier and happier. What’s more, being grateful may lead to other positive emotions (including a boost in energy and optimism) and well-being. Counting blessings versus burdens: an experimental investigation of gratitude and subjective well-being in daily life. Emmons RA, McCullough ME. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 2003, May.;84(2):0022-3514. Besides simply thanking people, try keeping a gratitude journal, and write down what you’re thankful for every day. Experts maintain that jotting down even one sentence of gratitude a day can boost feelings of happiness.
6Category romances are published in the mass-market paperback format that is typically used for genre fiction in the English-speaking world. The category romance is an (in)famously cheap book that is available “wherever women shop” (as Harlequin’s decades-old tagline boasts). This includes venues outside of the traditional literary circuit, such as supermarkets, grocery stores, newsstands and gas stations. Almost all category romances are published by the Canadian publisher Harlequin (or its subsidiaries Silhouette and Mills & Boon), which releases over a hundred category romances each month in a wide variety of lines all over the world.4
Never before and never again, did a single genre of the comic book — an original American commercial concept — explode in such an orgy of financial opportunism. . . . Some historians have theorized that the demise of the pulp magazines had something to do with the frenzy for love . . . . No, the answer — if there is a rational answer — is that it was just time for love. Teenage American girls — for it was they that read the majority of romance comics — were ready for romance. No young miss could possibly avoid spotting love on the racks when it was that freely available. And more love begat even more love.
13Genette identifies a crucial difference between the reception and interpretation of the (narrative) text and the (material) paratext of a book. Whereas the former is targeted at a very specific (and ideal) kind of reader, who has the background knowledge necessary to understand and unlock the text, the latter is directed at a far more substantive and heterogeneous group of consumers without a clear-cut profile.
Your example is critical in developing this type of love in your child. It begins with how you show love to your family – spouse, children, parents, siblings, extended family. It will grow as they see you enact this “committed love” to your neighbors, your colleagues, and your church community. They will also learn more as they see you spontaneously love all you come in contact with.
By contrast, I had always been taught that the pursuit of happiness was my natural (even national) birthright. It is the emotional trademark of my culture to seek happiness. Not just any kind of happiness, either, but profound happiness, even soaring happiness. And what could possibly bring a person more soaring happiness than romantic love? I, for one, had always been taught by my culture that marriage ought to be a greenhouse in which romantic love can abundantly flourish. Insidethe somewhat rickety greenhouse of my first marriage, then, I had planted row after row of grand expectations. I was a veritable Johnny Appleseed of grand expectations, and all I reaped for my trouble was a harvest of bitter fruit.
Committed love is built on a strong basis of mutual understanding. Now this may sound a bit obvious, and one may say this is a part of every relationship but mutual understanding goes much deeper. Love commitment is about understanding the unsaid words, unexpressed feelings and everything in between. Both partners in a relationship need to work upon and build the relationship nurtured with complete understanding.
Stop comparing yourself to others. If you learn to look at your life on its own terms instead of wishing you had as much money, as many friends, or the same amazing body as the person next to you, then you’ll be able to let go of bitterness and jealousy. Remind yourself that each and every person has his own struggles and strong suits, and that you can’t have everything – and neither can anyone else. Focus on doing your own thing instead of looking around you and you’ll quickly feel happier for it.
How does this apply to dating and mating? Anything that constrains your options, or your partner’s, limits the information contained in the choices you make. That means that some people may routinely misinterpret the behavior of their partners and think that something may signal commitment when it does not. That also means that some couples that have been together a while, with an unclear future, and that also have the constraints that come from living together, may have difficulty reading clearly in each other what they want for the future.
Some recent work in neuroscience as examined the brains of people in romantic love. They found that the brain areas involved with making judgments and with sense of self. What this means is that when we are in romantic love, out ability to make judgments about situations and the other person is actually impaired, and we lose our sense of individuality and over-identify with the other (Xu, et al, 2010).
Look, I don’t want to risk romanticizing the oh-so-simple life of the picturesque rural peasant here. Let me make it clear that I had no desire to trade lives with any of the women that I met in that Hmong village in Vietnam. For the dental implications alone, I do not want their lives. It would be farcical and insulting, besides, for me to try adopting their worldview. In fact, the inexorable march of industrial progress suggests that the Hmong will be more likely to start adopting my worldview in the years to come.
Part of being a good world citizen is caring for other human beings, which may include going out of your way sometimes. But when going out of your way for your beloved is less effort and more this-is-just-how-we-behave, you’ve got yourself a keeper and you’re definitely committed. Examples of going out of your way might look like taking your lunch break to run an errand for them, rearranging your travel plans to make sure they get can get the time off to join you, or giving up your car to make sure they make it to that meeting on time (and vice versa, of course). Anything less and there’s no guarantee that you’re relationship is actually a committed one.
26The line name is yet another element that is interpreted differently by the public and the romance reader. While to the public the name denotes a simple narrative profile, for the romance reader familiar with the romance genre’s refined system of lines it functions as a code for a more complex and composite narrative profile (cf. supra). This difference in interpretation or codification of the line name is particularly important in lines that appear to be quite similar. For example, Harlequin currently publishes two sensual lines, Harlequin Blaze and Harlequin Desire. The public is presumably unable to differentiate between these two lines since the names suggest similar erotic profiles, but the experienced romance reader is aware of the differences in the lines’ respective compound narrative profiles.13 Whereas the public interprets these names as a codification of similarity, the romance reader interprets the line names as a codification of difference.
Not only is it mentally stimulating (not to mention fun), but challenging yourself to learn a new skill can lead to greater happiness, experts say. That’s thanks to the feelings of accomplishment and self-confidence that often come along with gaining new expertise. Consider this your cue to sign up for those French lessons you’ve always wanted to take, or pick up the ukulele—choose something that genuinely interests you, and run with it!