19 Simple Guidelines: How to be a Gentleman.

Via elephant journal
on Nov 19, 2012
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When I was a boy, fatherless but thoroughly mothered, fictional and real-life men alike showed and told me how to be a man.

I found these men in real life (Willy Ryken, a founder of our Summer Camp and Buddhist troublemaker, and many other father figures my mother connected me with), in history (Winston Churchill, FDR), through fiction (F. Scott Fitzgerald, Huck Finn, Tintin), baseball (Dave Winfield, Lou Gehrig), Buddhism (Trungpa), through basketball (Magic), etc. And, through the movies, some were bad boys—like Errol Flynn or Toshiro Mifune—but they were still inspired by higher causes, by being of service, by dignity and nobility. Some models of gentlemanhood were quieter, more humble or modest but still charming and fun, like Paul Newman or Robert Redford.

But say the word “gentleman,” and still no one comes to mind more universally, perhaps, than Cary Grant.


In any case—the word itself is imbued with power—the power of gentleness borne of self-confidence, of modesty and humor, of style, of service, of manhood fully realized.

Gentleman. It’s a worthy notion for we men to contemplate, from the inside, out—and it’s perhaps the only worthy sort of man to look for, for those attracted to men.

Gentlemanhood is, as mentioned above, fundamentally about a lack of self concern, about taking oneself, and life, lightly—and yet allowing one’s experience, and life’s suffering, to be felt deeply, fully, bravely, tenderly. It’s both, therefore, about style and charm, on a personal level, and about being inspired to dedicate one’s days to a higher cause, to have the strength and generosity to be of service, on an outward level. And the mark of such service? Charm. Dignity, nobility. The outward signs we all recognize as that of a gentleman.

It’s about being good: and wearing one’s goodness lightly. As Cary Grant put it, it’s a work in progress:

“I pretended to be somebody I wanted to be until finally I became that person. Or he became me.”

It’s serve even when one doesn’t feel like serving. It’s having the bravery, and kindness, to practice holding it all—good and bad, happy and sad—in our hearts:

“We could reconnect with the weather that is ourselves, and we could realize that it’s sad. The sadder it is, and the vaster it is, the more our heart opens. We can stop thinking that good practice is when it’s smooth and calm, and bad practice is when it’s rough and dark. If we can hold it all in our hearts, then we can make a proper cup of tea.” ~ Pema Chodron

Quiet confidence, embodied:

cary grant

Bonus: What makes life so difficult? Easy.

cary grant

Bonus: In Defense of “Making Love.”

Source: google.com via Mandy on Pinterest


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10 Responses to “19 Simple Guidelines: How to be a Gentleman.”

  1. Joe Sparks says:

    We need to encourage presentations of men in the media, TV, movies, etc. that include the reality of their humanness and the real conditions of their real lives. Include in the portrayals of male hero figures their struggles and their ability to show their feelings as a healthy response of being confidently male. Men are portrayed as rarely to be trusted to act human. Even male "heroes" are oftened given one-sided and simplified characterizations. Transform the mass media into a force that communicates the reality about men and all human beings instead of having to be a "man" and into a force for human liberation, education, and communication for all.

  2. James says:

    That was cool. Thanks for posting that.

  3. Melanie says:

    I love Cary Grant, he has always been my ideal of the perfect man – suave , cool, charming, incredibly handsome, funny, a master of the one-liner and a dapper dresser to boot. But his on screen persona was a far cry from his private life. He was gay, but had to keep up Hollywood appearances by appearing to be straight, even though he would often be out and about with long time lover Randolf Scott. He married several times, but was wracked with insecurities and depression throughout his life and was rejected by the Academy, never receiving acknowledgement til he was an old man when he was finally given an award for his life's work. Throughout all he was never less than 'manly' in the real sense of the word and I love him all the more for his utter humaness.

  4. Linda V. Lewis says:

    Wonderful! thanks for being my Cary Grant son for 5 days here! I feel loved and spoiled, dined and taxied!–Love, MOM

  5. […] for your participation in this, it was truly inspiring and I love you all! Good luck not crying. Real men […]

  6. […] has been some discussion about what it means to be a gentleman around here lately, so I felt it only appropriate that I make […]

  7. Thanks for this.

    I dont know much about Cary Grant, but I feel inspired to watch some videos now.

  8. randolphr says:

    One could 'be' (as in behave) all of those things yet still be dishonest.

    Perhaps this really about displaying a compelling, outward behavior
    and the rewards and character attributes to be gained.

  9. A.L. says:

    I enjoyed the article and will use it as inspiration to better myself in the direction of becoming a gentleman.
    That said, there may be an issue with comparing the fictional characters with real life personas such as with Cary Grant (birth name, Archibald Leach).
    Certainly he was assigned to play witty, sophisticated characters (made up by other people) and did it well. People often confuse carefully crafted on-screen, fantasy personalities developed by a writer, director and actor, with the actor’s real life persona.
    It often causes the real life actor much dismay and even anguish in his/her real life. The ‘price of fame’ as it were and loss of self and privacy.
    Mr. Grant’s characters were suave gentlemen and he played them well, and became a deserved movie star, but in real life…was he truly the role model of a gentlemen? Who knows? He certainly was handsome, but that does’t a gentleman make, good looks and fame often create rascals of the first degree.
    Not that Mr. Grant was a rascal, but was he a gentleman role model? He was was married five times (divorced four; first wife divorced him after alleged physical abuse). Was a ‘Brand Ambassador’ for a fragrance company (a little bit of a useless cum vainglorious job). Fathered a child at age 62…
    The point is, we may want to think twice before idolizing fantasy characters as real life heroes. It can be as misleading as the airbrushing/photoshop pictures of models making them look flawless.
    Mr. Grant was once told by an interviewer, "Everybody would like to be Cary Grant," and his reply, "So would I."