Just because you are educated, have a Masters and listen to NPR, every morning, does not make you cultured. To be fully cultured, you must be receptive to new experiences. If you Google “How to be Cultured,” you will come up with innumerable results with varied responses.
I, personally, had a hard time agreeing to most of these articles since they advised people to watch more TV or to be more reticent towards rude people. Wiki How articles can be quite deceptive at times.
I don’t think watching more TV (like reality shows) or walking away from rudeness makes one more cultured. If you want to be more cultured, consider the following pursuits below:
- Read Books on Art, Music, Science, Philosophy, History, Psychology, Non-fiction, and great Literature. Skip those Harlequin Romance novels, trash those seedy celeb mags, and eschew books by nitwits. Read the dense books that will chew out your brain and spit out a smarter individual (you).
- Travel. If you can’t afford to travel out of the country, try doing a road trip across the United States with good friends. Before you travel, read up on said country (or state’s) culture, foods, arts, and history. When you learn more about your future destination, you are able to appreciate your travels more and, also, become more cultured.
- Listen to Different Artists. Be open to new music and be willing to immerse yourself into it. Yes, listening to classical songs by Tchaikovsky or Mozart is highly recommended but also listen to old school Hip Hop from the 80’s. Listen to Rock from the 70’s or even be receptive to electronic. The more music you know, the more you can enjoy it.
- Take in the Arts. Visit art museums on all kinds of art, no need to discern or have a judicious selection. Read up on artists like Andy Warhol, Picasso, Degas, Monet or Dali before you visit. When you are able to comprehend why the artist cranked out this amazing painting with whatever was available at the time, your appreciation will grow. It’s not just splattered paint on a large, overwhelming, canvas.
- Learn some Manners. You’re never too old to learn respect. Visit your local Barnes and Noble and read self-help books on this topic. The better your manners are, the better you will appear to the world. If you think your manners are hopeless, consider hiring a life coach.
- Athletic Hobbies. If you read articles on culture, most blindly say to to find one. They don’t always give you examples of good hobbies or even hold your hand during this step of the “cultural” process. Well, let me hold your hand. Here are examples of hobbies you can undertake to be more cultural: Tennis, Swimming, Jousting, Fencing, Horseback Riding, Parasailing, Rock Climbing, Ice Skating, Skiing, Yoga, Martial Arts, Sailing, etc. If you can, try to partake in a physical hobby that will nurture you with new skills and fortify your mind. Not only is this a cultural endeavor but it’s good for your physical health. Working out, in any form, is a cultural, sophisticated and wise pursuit in itself. Lastly, be open to scary stuff too like skydiving or hang gliding. Being intrepid shows strength of character.
- Performing Arts. If you want to amp up your “class” factor, learn more about Broadway shows, Ballet, the Opera, Shakespeare, Historical Theater shows, and pursuits similar to this. You would be surprised but you do become more well-rounded once your open your minds to these pursuits. In addendum, go to more theater shows, see more comedians, and be open to ALL forms of performing arts. The more you know, the better.
- Food and Wine. So this is my favorite cultural pursuit since I am in the gourmet food industry. What I recommend is you eat foods you’re not accustomed to and to try different ethnic dishes. Read books on different ethnic dishes, go to cultural food festivals and learn as much as you can. When it comes to wine, sample different types of wines on the weekends, read books on it, and even make a trip to a vineyard so you can understand the wine making process.
- Self-Help. You may not see this step in most “Cultural Self-Help” articles but please take this to heart. You are not perfect and please don’t think you are. You may talk too much, make nasty remarks or not be mindful enough. Work on bettering your manners, your abilities, and your own social skills. Cultured individuals want to be the best they can be and are open to changing themselves, for the better. I advise you read self-help books, make a list of vices you need to work on improving, and make this a lifelong process to betterment.
- Dress your Best. People make snap decisions based on a 3 second window. Within those 3 seconds, we hope you are well groomed. Make sure you shower, comb your hair, and dress in high-end threads. If you can’t afford high quality, visit your local Thrift store or buy clothes on Amazon.com. When you slack on your appearance, it communicates to the world you don’t take responsibility for your actions and are not mindful of others. Be classy and stay classy.
- Languages. Learn a new language, it’s never too late. Rossetta Stone is great, or you can take group lessons. Imagine being so proficient in Spanish that you can travel all around Latin America, with ease. It’s possible if you are persistent, consistent, and resistant to challenges with this process.
- Face your Fears. This is another aspect you won’t always see in other cultural articles. If you have a fear of airplanes, how can you travel anywhere? If you are scared of snakes, how will you trek through the Amazon seamlessly. Work on battling your fears and even though this is the hardest step, this is the one step that will bring you the most joy in your life.
- Be Open to New, Novel, and Weird. Cultural denizens learn voraciously. They are open to new experiences, new knowledge and with embracing change. Even on the job, employees who are open to change and receptive to learning new skills, experiences, and challenges move up while employees who are most resistant, stay stagnant. Keep this in mind when you want to advance on the job.
- Socialize with EVERYONE. The best way to learn is to let go of your pre-conceived notions on different demographics, rich or poor, different ethnic groups, different religions, and with different personalities. I’m not telling you to be friends with everyone you meet since I believe you must trust your intuition when it comes to having people in your life. What I am telling you to do is to be open to learning about new topics, experience, and ideas from different groups of people. Go to more mixers, networking events, socials, and parties. Talk to people you normally wouldn’t talk too and listen, more then gab. Index these ideas and ponder closely. Just because you may disagree with someone’s political views does not make them a bad person.The more open you are to learning from your fellow human beings ( remember to practice manners too, no matter who you agree or disagree with) the more self-growth you will acquire. Cultured people love to learn and talk to different walks of life. It’s also a key sign of high emotional intelligence.
There you have it. A comprehensive guide that will gear you to the right direction. Since this pursuit is a life-long one, DO NOT QUIT. It will get hard and tiresome but you must endure this process to find personal, emotional and cultural growth. Not everyone can be cultured but if you are willing to make these tasks, actionable and transform them into systems in your life, you will be ahead of your peers. Good luck!