What distinguishes cultured people from everyone else?
Is it the way they talk, the car they drive or the price tag on their clothes?
It’s actually far more than any of these external things.
Let’s take a look.
The truth is that culture starts with you.
The most important of the habits that distinguish cultured people from the rest is self-care.
Cultured individuals value themselves highly and treat their body and mind with the respect and attention it deserves.
They get enough rest, exercise and healthy food to face the day with vigor and engagement.
The cultured individual knows that he or she is only going to enjoy the beauty that this world and life has to offer if they are refreshed and relaxed.
You can’t appreciate van Gogh when you’re burned out from three weeks of overtime and just want to sleep.
You can’t enjoy a fine dining experience when you’re out with your wife if you feel depressed over personal conflicts you’ve been repressing and trying not to face for the past six months.
The next of the habits that distinguish cultured people from the rest is that they are selective.
Every day they practice the habit of actually considering choices and making choices that are meaningful and fulfilling to them.
What does this mean?
In the grocery store they don’t just walk in and pick whatever products are immediately on display: the oily pre-sliced fake cheese and the white bread.
They browse around and find natural cheeses: maybe some gouda or camembert. They take the time to look for some high quality, nourishing bread, even if that means going to another place that’s more natural.
On the larger scale, take any pivotal event like finding a husband or wife, choosing a career, deciding where to live and following a spiritual path:
The cultured person thinks it over deeply and is selective in what he or she chooses.
The cultured person refuses to act purely on impulse or what’s easiest, because he or she knows that in the long run it makes your life a lot harder and less fulfilling even if it fills a need in the short-term.
This relates directly to the next point.
3) Quality over quantity
In every area, the person of culture seeks out quality over quantity.
Relationships, employment, art, music, theater, cinema, spirituality, clothing, jewelry, ideas, books, friendships, automobiles.
Whatever category it is in, the man or woman of culture practices a constant habit of favoring quality over quantity.
This ends up manifesting in almost every area of their lives, including in their business transactions and personal relationships.
People of culture don’t need to have the “biggest house” or the “hottest husband” or any of these shallow signifiers.
They are much more interested in winning by their own standard and choosing what brings quality to their life than having quality (or quantity) defined for them.
That’s the thing:
Living according to somebody else’s shallow ideas of victory is the same as losing.
4) Active listening
Next up in important habits that distinguish cultured people from the rest is that they practice active listening on a daily basis.
This means that they don’t only hear what somebody is saying, they also hear between the lines about:
- Why this person is saying this…
- What this person’s needs are in saying this…
- What the person is trying to achieve by saying this…
- Why you are reacting a certain way or not reacting emotionally to what they’re saying.
Active listening or deep listening gives you a big understanding of the world around you and also helps enormously in appreciating culture, art, music and high aesthetic matters.
When you listen at a deeper level, you have a more profound experience of everything in life.
5) Work-life balance
Next up in key habits that distinguish cultured people from the rest is having work-life balance.
It’s impossible to care for yourself or enjoy the finer things in life if you’re a slave to your job.
Working hard is wonderful, but overworking is a different beast.
The cultured individual does their best to maintain work-life balance and take time out.
He or she knows that life is too short to spend all your time chasing dollars and that sometimes you need a moment to yourself or just to soak in the sunset and listen to Vivaldi.
6) Reading widely
Next up in the habits that distinguish cultured people from the rest is that they read widely.
This doesn’t mean they necessarily read a lot!
Not everybody has time to read a lot or read all the time.
But they read widely: maybe one book about European history and another experimental novel that’s science fiction.
Maybe another book on Pablo Picasso’s biography and a different one on spirituality and comparing theology in various religions.
Cultured folks like to read about things that get their mind and emotions activated and engage them on the deepest level.
They also like to discuss and share these ideas with others.
7) Musical diversity
Another of the key habits that distinguish cultured people from the rest is that they practice musical diversity.
Really in any area of their lives including music, the cultured individual tries to spread his or her antennae as widely as possible.
A little jazz here, a little heavy metal there. Some rap on Friday nights and some classical on Sunday mornings.
Some religious hymns now and then and some punk. Maybe some bluegrass while working out at the gym.
Cultured people like to dip their toes into many streams and keep themselves abreast of many different styles and tastes of music, art and culture.
This is how they stay cultured!
8) Constant curiosity
Next up in the daily habits that distinguish cultured people from the rest is that they cultivate a mindset of constant curiosity.
Even the smallest detail catches the cultured man or woman’s attention.
A beautiful song playing in the department store, a colorful and stunning garden in someone’s front yard.
An authentic Peruvian shawl being worn by a business colleague.
The discussion of a new idea in home decoration or philosophy or art.
They notice these things and want to know more.
Constant curiosity keeps culture levels the highest possible for all involved.
9) Trend avoidance
Lastly in terms of habits that distinguish cultured people from the rest is that they avoid trends.
Avoiding one trend is a choice.
Habitually ignoring or bypassing trends is a habit.
Now this doesn’t mean no cultured guy or girl is ever wearing the latest styles or listening to new music.
Of course some are!
It means they are doing so because they like that music or style, not because it is being promoted a lot or liked by others.
Trend avoidance is all part of forging your own path in life and refusing to allow yourself to simply be a passive consumer of the products, culture and aesthetics of tastemakers.
The concept of “maxxing” has been gaining a lot of ground on the internet in recent years.
It means what it sounds like: doing an activity or embodying a lifestyle to the maximum extent possible.
If you want to truly experience culture and become a cultured person, you need to be culture-maxxing.
You need to be going to museums, listening to symphonies, writing with a fountain pen and studying old works of art.
You need to be meeting friends who care about culture and surrounding yourself with the ambience of times gone by and tastes that surpass the average.
There’s no substitute for culture-maxxing and no shortcut: you can’t just pretend to be cultured or do it for status, you need to become it and let valuable, meaningful culture infuse you at the deepest level.