Exercising Emotions: Culture and Drama


Humans in societies exercise emotions by watching or participating in cultural events.


Cultural events are those which are shared by a community, society or nation.  Cultural events have an influence and relevance that is proportional to the coverage that the event gets.  An event with a small audience is likely to have less influence than one with a large audience.

Benefits of this definition

Experiencing cultural events helps us to maintain emotional fitness.  Those shared events help to define who we are as individuals within the context of the people we live among.

The main event

Our shared emotional repertoire is created and maintained via cultural experiences.  The art of story telling, which is our fundamental cultural experience, has morphed over the centuries into multiple media including performing arts, books, newspapers, radio, television, movies and now the internet.  By tuning into any one of these media we can have an emotional experience that will stimulate some of our familiar emotions, thereby keeping us tuned and ready for emotional action in the real world.


The earliest and most fundamental stories of any society are often religious texts.  These texts often explicitly state how you must respond emotionally to certain behaviours or events providing a certain amount of emotional structuring to peoples' lives.


Sport is an ideal way to channel natural aggression and to teach people to work in teams to achieve goals

Performing Arts

Music, drama, dance and other arts are used to express the whole gamut of emotions.


Like performing arts, writing is used to express all emotions.  The earliest books are also religious texts.

Personal example

During my upbringing new emotional experience was introduced into my peer group via the explosion of music that occurred in the United States and Europe.  Described as Youth Culture, this culture, beginning in the 1960s, appeared in waves across western society beginning with rock'n roll, folk and blues which morphed into rock, psychedelia, metal, then punk, new wave, reggae, and then grunge, rap, drum and bass, hip hop and others as the movement died going into the 2000's.  At the start this culture was not shared by the older generation with some finding it quite distasteful.  In this example culture introduced new emotional experiences to a society that wasn't there before.

Challenge to audience

For the sake of our emotional fitness as individuals and our emotional cohesion within our society, it is important to retain a rich shared culture of religion, music, drama, sport, literature and the like.  The education we provide our children should not be short of these elements either.

References and further reading