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Everything I Need to Know in Life I Learned From “Survivor” (Photos)

Jeff Probst is back to host the 26th season of the show.

Jeff Probst is back to host the 26th season of the show.

Insert clever joke about “The tribe has spoken” here!

Survivor: Caramoan premieres tonight on CBS at 8 PM Eastern, and once again it promises to be a lively season of fierce competitions and clashing personalities. To make things more interesting, it’s another “Fans vs. Favorites” edition, pitting new players against returning ones. Among the faces you might recognize: Philip “I’m a Government Agent – Really!” Sheppard, Brandon “I’m Not Russell” Hantz and John “The Lovable Nerd” Cochran.

Yes, I’ll be one of the millions tuning in, as I have every season since 2000, when the reality show premiered and got everyone talking about alliances, immunity challenges and snuffed torches. And though some seasons haven’t been as strong as others, it’s still both great entertainment and a fascinating lesson in human psychology.

You can learn a lot about life from watching the show – and not just how many different ways the producers can include puzzle-assembling in the immunity challenges.

Here are some of the lessons you can pick up when you watch tonight!

For more on the show, visit the CBS Survivor website and follow their official Twitter feed.

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  • Choose your alliances carefully. 1 of 12
    Choose your alliances carefully.
    Richard Hatch ("Borneo"), the very first "Survivor" winner, set the standard for future seasons by aligning himself with a core group of teammates who helped him get to the top. Sometimes it really is who you know.
    From CBS: Buy your own tribal buff - or buy a bunch for everyone in your alliance.
  • Recognize all your talents – and use them. 2 of 12
    Recognize all your talents - and use them.
    In "Survivor" as in life, it pays to play to your strengths. Parvati Shallow became a "Survivor" legend for her physical skills, her smart strategizing and - yes - her unabashed flirting. She came in sixth on "Cook Islands," second in "Heroes vs. Villains" and won "Micronesia."
    From CBS: See Parvati host the Survivor After Show on CBS.com.
  • Social skills are as important as smarts. 3 of 12
    Social skills are as important as smarts.
    John Cochran (left, with fellow Survivor Jonathan Penner) came into "South Pacific" sure that his encyclopedic knowledge of the game would take him all the way to Final Tribal. Alas, being a devoted viewer doesn't necessarily make you a perfect player. He was voted out on Day 31. We'll see how he fares when he returns tonight on "Caramoan."
    From CBS: See a preview of tonight's premiere here.
  • Learn from your mistakes. 4 of 12
    Learn from your mistakes.
    Embarrassed over the job interview you blew or the cupcakes you forgot to make for your kid's class party? Take heart: Everyone has bad days and lapses in judgment. At least you didn't give away your immunity necklace, like Erik Reichenbach did in "Micronesia." As long as you come away wiser for the experience, you can move forward with head held high. That's what Erik hopes to do this season in "Caramoan."
    From CBS: See photos of the new cast.
  • Take care of yourself. For crying out loud, take care of yourself. 5 of 12
    Take care of yourself. For crying out loud, take care of yourself.
    You can't Survive if you don't have your health. A number of promising contestants have had to exit the game after becoming ill or injured. Leading the pack: Michael Skupin, who fell into the camp fire during "Australian Outback" and badly burned his hands. He fared better in last season's "Philippines," emerging with only a few cuts and bruises.
    Now Mike has his own website.
  • You never know how strong you can be until you’re tested. 6 of 12
    You never know how strong you can be until you're tested.
    Lisa Whelchel learned "The Facts of Life" twice over - first by playing Blair on the famous TV show, and then by joining the cast of "Philippines." It was there that Lisa learned how tricky it can be to hold on to your principles while playing a game that often requires deviousness. But the actress, who was going through a difficult personal ordeal at home, also found inner resources she never knew she possessed - and made it all the way to the final three.
    From People: Lisa's post-"Survivor" plans.
  • Kindness counts. 7 of 12
    Kindness counts.
    Rupert Boneham missed out on being Ultimate Survivor in his three appearances ("Pearl Islands," "All-Stars" and "Heroes vs. Villains"), but his good heart, fun personality and unique taste in tie-dye endeared him to millions. He won a special viewers'-choice $1 million prize, which he used to help his family and launch Rupert's Kids, a charity for troubled children.
    See more about Rupert's organization.
  • Being the bad guy only gets you so far. 8 of 12
    Being the bad guy only gets you so far.
    Russell Hantz ("Samoa," "Heroes vs. Villains," "Redemption Island") relished his role as master manipulator, and even made it to the final three in his second try. But no one on the jury was willing to give the fedora-wearing fellow a million dollars for being the bad guy who played a good game.
    From Examiner.com: Why Russell didn't want to be on "Caramoan."
  • Believe in love. 9 of 12
    Believe in love.
    Rob Mariano is one of the most popular Survivors in the history of the game, appearing on the show four times and finally winning on "Redemption Island." But his biggest reward was meeting and falling in love with fellow contestant Amber Brkich ("Australian Outback" and "All-Stars"). They were married in 2005 and now have three daughters.
    From CBS: Rob on his "Redemption" win.
  • Respect your elders. 10 of 12
    Respect your elders.
    Older players don't always fare well on "Survivor." Twentysomething teammates tend to see them as weak and poor at strategizing. But try telling that to Bob Crowley, who won the Gabon season by outplaying everyone at the age of 57. He even made two phony immunity idols that fooled his competitors. Take THAT, kids!
    From Yahoo: an interview with Bob.
  • Honesty is (usually) the best policy. 11 of 12
    Honesty is (usually) the best policy.
    Sure, "Survivor" players have to be deceptive sometimes. But there's a difference between a little white lie and tasteless fraud. Jon Dalton may be a great guy in real life, but to legions of "Survivor" fans, he's the notorious Jonny Fairplay. Even if he wins the Nobel Peace Prize, he'll still be known as the jerk who set up a "dead grandmother" scheme as a sympathy ploy to get ahead in the game.
    From FansofRealityTV.com: Jonny explains why he left the first "Fans vs. Favorites" edition.
  • Jeff Probst has the best dimples in all creation. 12 of 12
    Jeff Probst has the best dimples in all creation.
    They are deep, darling and dimplicious. There's no particular life lesson to be learned from this - it just needed to be said.
    Read more about Jeff at the CBS "Survivor" site.

[Photos: via PacificCoastNews, Twitter]

Read more of Shana’s writing at Momsperiments.

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