How cultured are you?
It can sound like a tough question, and many of us would say “Not much!”
But let’s look a little deeper under the surface because the truth is that there are various life experiences which can make us much more cultured than we realize.
1) Learned another language
Learning another language is like seeing the world through a fresh pair of eyes.
If you have had the opportunity to learn another language and took it, then you’re more cultured than you realize.
Even many people in my native bilingual Canada don’t speak more than one language, and traveling abroad I’ve met numerous folks who don’t speak a second language.
It’s not about competition or speaking more languages than other people, but it is true that learning a language adds a whole other perspective to life and expands your capacity to watch films, listen to music, and speak with people from other cultures.
2) Enjoyed art and sculpture
If you have genuinely enjoyed art and sculpture then you’re more cultured than you think.
If you’ve walked through a museum of incredible artwork and gone “wow,” then you’re a cultured individual.
If you’ve stood next to a sculpture, even just in your small hometown, and truly appreciated its curves and subtleties, then an appreciation for beauty runs in your veins.
This discernment and appreciation you have for beauty is something rare and valuable.
3) Experienced other cultures
If you’ve had the chance to experience other cultures then you’re far more cultured than you might think.
This doesn’t only refer to travel, as it can refer to experiencing cultures other than your own within your own nation.
In my own life, I’ve had the privilege of being friends with people from many different national, ethnic, and religious backgrounds and I learned a lot!
I experienced festivals, beliefs, and ways of living that were different than my own and are part of what motivated my eventual desire to get into writing and journalism and explore what motivates people’s beliefs, ideas, and self-development.
4) Appreciated architecture
You don’t need to know all the names of architecture to appreciate it.
Whether or not you can say “This building is baroque” or “beaux-arts,” you can enjoy the ambiance and feeling of different architectural styles.
Whether or not you’re a believer, you can go inside a mosque, church or temple and feel awed by the beauty and majesty of the architecture.
This ability to see the uniqueness and power of how structures are made is a definite sign of culture.
It can extend all the way to modern architecture too.
While I’m generally not a fan of most modern architecture or modern urban design, I do find modern architecture within a nature or wild environment very intriguing and beautiful.
There’s a ton of architectural diversity out there!
Here’s a neat and brief guide to some of these styles with a photo of 40 different types of architecture.
5) Been to live music or live theater
If you’ve been to live music or theater then your culture levels are higher than you think.
Growing up my family loved going to theater and our community had a lot of musicians in it.
So I was introduced to those things from an early age. I didn’t care much at the time, but now I realize the value of drama, music, and the arts and how they add so much color to life.
If you’ve been to music you love or live theater, you’re on a cultured path that’s making you a well-rounded and discerning individual.
6) Studied philosophy or spirituality
If you’re interested in philosophy or spirituality you’re more cultured than you realize.
It doesn’t have to include fancy words or official accreditation.
You don’t need to have gone to a spiritual retreat (although it’s fine if you do!)
The point is your thirst for finding the truth, and your hunger for discovering more about life and what the human experience means.
If you have this desire inside you, you’re more cultured than you realize!
Not everyone does!
7) Engaged in self-awareness and journaling
Many of the deepest experiences we’ll have in life are with ourselves. This makes sense if you think about it:
- We’re around ourselves all the time, at least all the time we’re awake; and,
- We remain quite a mystery even to ourselves in many ways!
The more you grow in self-awareness the more you will realize how much of you remains a mystery.
And that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
But as you keep a spiritual journal and become more aware of this, you’ll continue growing in your understanding of yourself and others, adding to your overall level of refinement and culture.
8) Put thought into style and fashion
How we dress and present ourselves is something many of us don’t think about a lot.
But if you put time and energy into taking care of yourself and developing your own style, then you’re more cultured than you think.
There are hundreds of ideas around fashion and how to think about it, so this doesn’t mean you have to follow all the trends by any means.
But if you at least pay attention to fashion and care about the style you’re putting forward in how you dress, then your culture level is higher than what you think.
9) Read books from many world cultures
Reading books from many different countries is a great way to become more cultured.
If you’ve already done this and have an interest in literature from around the world then you’re much more cultured than you think.
I had the privilege of being introduced to many works of literature and non-fiction from outside the Western canon in university.
But you don’t need to go to college or take a course to get introduced to writing from people all around the world.
Finding writers who’ve written novels and books about subjects that interest you is something you can do if you haven’t yet.
“The problem with the canon of Western literature is that it leaves out great books from most of the countries in the world.
“You can bridge that gap by making sure that you include books from at least 25 different countries in your reading list.”
10) Watched films from various countries
One of the best aspects of many streaming platforms, in my opinion, is how they are introducing people to programs and films from all over the world.
Having the option to watch a Danish or Jordanian or Argentinian film and switch on subtitles is a quantum shift.
There are also a lot of amazing older films that I recommend checking out.
If you know some of these then your culture level is definitely higher than you realize.
There are some very helpful and informative guides for the kind of films you can watch from various countries to appreciate high art coming out of many different cultures.
If you haven’t yet, this list is a good place to start by choosing a few for your next movie night!
What me, cultured?
Culture is not a competition and it shouldn’t be a status symbol, either.
The real purpose of becoming more cultured is because it adds to your depth as a person and is worthwhile for its own sake.
Enriching yourself with some of the experiences in the list above will certainly increase your level of culture.
You may also find you’ve already had many of these experiences and are more cultured than you realize.
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