12 Most Edifying Life Lessons in Reality TV

12 Most Edifying Life Lessons in Reality TV

Reality television is often viewed as the “junk food” of the television universe. It is indeed highly addictive, but it might not be as bad for your brain as people think. Hidden in many reality shows are some really interesting life lessons that can help you enjoy life more and be more successful. Which shows you ask? Read on and see.

1. The Biggest Loser

You can win without making the finale. The true winners on that show are the people who realize that losing the weight makes them winners. The cash prize at the end of the road is a great thing too, but if you lose 80, 90, 100 pounds or more, then you’ve won. Don’t let one loss distract you from an actual win.

2. American Gladiators

Always look ahead. The build-up to the final eliminator event is largely just a side show. The best contestants plan their strategy. This is why you should look ahead – it does you no good to use all your strength climbing a hill when the next thing on your list is climbing a mountain. If you know what’s up ahead, you can plan accordingly.

3. The Amazing Race

The couple that looks strongest from the outside isn’t always the strongest. The Amazing Race lets us see all of those couples put under pressure, and the winners sometimes surprise you. Don’t judge your relationship compared to others, or others compared to yours. Every relationship is unique, so judge it by what works.

4. Survivor

Making yourself useful is a great defence mechanism. In Survivor, the person who can find food typically is a valuable person, even if they are not part of an alliance. It’s no guarantee you’ll be around to the end, but making yourself valuable generally means you won’t be the first to go.

5. Fear Factor

If you ask to be challenged, don’t be surprised when you get what you ask for. Preparing for Fear Factor is surprisingly easy, but people get ready to face their fears and then need to eat something disgusting. The eating element of the show always seems to catch people by surprise.

6. Dancing with the Stars

Play to your strengths. Steve Wozniak was not an excellent dancer. He did, however, have a legion of loyal fans. This kept him on the show far longer than he normally would have been able to stay. He knew his strength was in his fan base and he used it.

7. American Idol

If you can’t be really good at something, at least be entertaining. There are two people who make it on the show, the contestants and the people who suck badly but make people laugh. So, if you can’t win by skill, you should always leave them laughing.

8. America’s Funniest Home Videos

Tragedy + Time becomes Comedy. Yes, the winning videos typically involve some guy getting hit in the private parts with something. However, people laugh, and so does the guy who was in the video. His pain passed, and the humor remained.

9. The Bachelor

There is always a chance for love. The Bachelor puts people in a highly monitored situation with loads of expectations, something that would be horrible for forming a relationship normally. However, a large number of the women on this show fall in love with the Bachelor, and the Bachelor falls for many of the women. If people can find love multiple times on a show like this, no one is hopeless.

10. The Bachelorette

Men and women are more alike than we all realize. The fascinating part of The Bachelorette is that both genders act the same when they switch places. It shows that the behaviour in these shows isn’t gender specific. We all react similarly in the same circumstances.

11. Britain’s Got Talent

Don’t judge people by first appearances. This show has a reputation for putting unexpected people on stage and discovering that they have fantastic voices. Think of Susan Boyle. She’s someone you’d walk past on the street, but for a brief time she was the darling of the world.

12. The Voice

Don’t let your appearance get in the way of your talent. I really enjoy how The Voice starts by judging people based only on how their voice sounds. Just like in the show, if you have a talent, and you keep demonstrating it, you’ll eventually find people who will listen before they look.

So, rather than disregarding reality television, look deeper to see the lessons that might be hidden in the show. You might be surprised at the life lessons you will learn.

Alex Conde


Alex is an adventurer in life. He writes about experiments in happiness at Searching for Happy. He also tweets about every subject under the sun @alexconde - tweet him anytime, he loves a good chat.

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I really enjoyed this blog and your points are very valuable. It will help a lot, thanks Alex.


I enjoyed your perspective, Alex. I never watch TV unless it is sports or we rent a movie. However, you had great insight into what makes each of these shows succeed. I also know that Biggest Loser is inspirational to a lot of people. I totally agree that "The true winners on that show are the people who realize that losing the weight makes them winners."

Martin D Redmond
Martin D Redmond

I really enjoyed your post. I hadn't look at the shows from the perspective you propose, but you're right.!


So true. Storage Wars is a great example too. The scariest looking storage units sometimes hide the greatest treasures! That's a great lesson to apply to other jobs.


I don't watch much reality TV, but I do occasionally watch Hard Core Pawn and Storage Wars. I'm almost inspired to go and bid on some abandoned units, but I'm sure it's not quite as easy as the show suggests. Very nice the way you were able to highlight some positives on other shows I'm not as familiar with. Makes me think I should make time to revisit them.


Love this! I'd add "Storage Wars" - such great fun - seeing people take risks that sometimes pay off big time. And so entertaining.