Friends, food, and flourishing

Getting started

Cryptid Kitchen explains many aspects of flourishing. The content is grouped into topic areas. Knowledge nuggets about XXX are in a XXX.

Like every area, it starts with a sign, introducing the topic. As you walk through the area, you find knowledge nuggets. It ends with a concluder, summarizing the topic.

Here are the knowledge nuggets at the time of writing. They’ve probably changed, though. Look in the game for the latest stuff.

What is flourishing, anyway? Dictionary definitions of flourishing aren’t very useful. They don’t give a feel for what flourishing is.
MothmanYeah, like trying to define what a joke is. Better just to tell a few.
MothmanYeah. Not my fave classes. I felt overwhelmed.
A good way to think about flourishing is called Three Lives. Let’s check it out.

The Three Lives model is a big-picture way to think about flourishing. There are three ways to flourish.

  • The pleasant life. You’re safe, and feeling pretty good most of the time. Or at least, not feeling bad. You have friends to hang out with.
  • The fulfilling life. You’re using your strengths and skills. You set goals, even if they’re fuzzy. You have a romantic partner or close friends you can share your dreams with.
  • The meaningful life. You’re using your strengths to serve something greater than yourself. Family, society, a cause… whatever works for you.

The pleasant life is pretty good. For most people, the fulfilling life is even better. Some people want more, though. They want a sense of meaning.

MothmanSo, you can’t get to a fulfilling life, if you don’t have a pleasant life?!

Bee tee dubs, something else happened here. Your thought about the three lives being like separate levels makes sense, given my explanation. Not right, but it makes sense.

It wasn’t a silly thought. It was a sensible thought.

When you’re explaining something to someone, you can’t know what’s going on in their head. They could be having sensible but inaccurate thoughts about what you’re saying. Encourage them to ask questions. Ask them questions.

This is why good teachers mean it when they say: “There are no stupid questions.”

Three lives does two things for us. First, it identifies parts of flourishing, like having friends. Second, it puts them in a rough order of importance. For example, having friends is on the first level, so it’s very important.

A clever dude called Martin Seligman wrote about the Three Lives. We’ve kept the basic idea, but changed it up a little.

The pleasant life is mainly about your emotional state, in the short(ish) term.

Life circumstances can bring you down. If you can’t pay your rent, or don’t feel safe, that’s a lot of stress. For most people, anyway.

MothmanWait, for most people? Everyone, right?

We all have baseline emotional levels we return to. Like, win the lottery, and you’ll be really happy for a while, then return to your baseline.

MothmanSo this is about happiness?!

What affects happiness?

First, there’s life circumstances, like income. People with more money tend to be happier, but only to a point. Once you get to I-can-pay-my-bills-and-have-money-left-over, getting more money doesn’t raise happiness too much. Some, but happiness levels out.

Second, there are physical pleasures, like chocolate, coffee, and sex.

Third, the pleasant life is easier if your body is OK. Basic health, but also things like getting enough sleep.

One thing: the evidence about the benefits of exercise is too strong to ignore. Some people (like me) hate exercise. But walking around your neighborhood isn’t too unpleasant, if you have good podcasts or audiobooks to listen to. Even better, get some cardio, and use weights to tone up your muscles.

Fourth, the pleasant life involves other people, too. We’re social animals. We’re happier if we have people we can hang out with.

So, there are life circumstances, physical pleasures, your body, and friends. Put them together, and you have a pleasant life.


(Sometimes there’s a section like this, showing how to use nuggets in your life. If you think we should add something, please make a suggestion.)

Don’t expect a person to just “be happy” if they have stressors, like not enough money, or not enough sleep. Or if their baseline level is low. It’s not a reasonable ask.

Some business managers tell front-line service workers to “be happy.” Yeah… no, it doesn’t work like that, for lots of people.

You can have a fulfilling life, even a meaningful life, even if things aren’t all pleasant. Still, it’s easier to get to the higher levels, if you can pay your rent, eat well, exercise, get enough sleep, and have friends.

We’re talking about the big-picture Three Lives model. The first one was the pleasant life.

For many people, living a pleasant life is enough. That’s OK.

Some people want more. Not more stuff. There’s only so much chocolate you can eat. No, they want a sense their life is fulfilling.

Two things for a fulfilling life are using your skills, and having close relationships.


People are more fulfilled if they have skills, things they do well. Have you ever been doing something, and you look up, and a couple of hours have passed, without you realizing it?

MothmanOh, yeah. Playing a game can be like that.
MothmanYou can get paid well for some flowy things, too.


Having close relationships, romantic or otherwise, is sooooo important. There’s a lot of research on this. Like, a lot a lot.

MothmanYeah, but bad relationships can make you miserable. Just listen to country music.

Finding a partner, and close friends, is hard, especially for some people. Rejection sucks, and you will be rejected sometimes. Learning to handle that is very important. Spoiler: a key is being aware of your emotions, before you drown in them.


Learning skills is tough for some people, especially if they’ve never been taught how to learn. For example, reading the same chapter in a book again and again, well, that’s not a good use of your learning time. Instead, explain the chapter to your dog. You’ll get more from your learning time, and efficiency matters.

If you’ve taken a course and thought, “I’m not smart enough for this,” there’s a good chance you’re wrong. Maybe you need to find well-designed courses, good teachers, and learn some basics first.

Tiny Christmas Town is, well, a Christmas town. The entrance is somewhere on the island. It’s about learning efficiently.

Another place in the game is about close relationships. Learning what makes relationships work is about the best thing you could do for yourself. And your family and friends, too.

We’re talking about the Three Lives model. There’s the pleasant life, and the fulfilling life. The last one is the meaningful life. You don’t have to do this to flourish, not now, and maybe not ever. It’s important to a lotta people, though. A common source of meaning is serving something greater than yourself. A religion, a nation, a community, a movement, or even an idea. Being part of a community of meaning can a Good Thing for flourishing. It hits Three Lives on multiple levels. Still, you can do things that are meaningful, just by yourself. There’s a flourishing area about meaning, somewhere on the island. There’s another area about religion as well. It’s a divisive topic, and worth talking about.

Most people spend a lot of their time working. Some jobs pay well, others not. Some have meaning built-in (like nurse), others not. Some jobs are physically demanding, others not. Some people have coworkers they like, others not.

There’s a tiny town somewhere about work. Spoiler: you can flourish at any job.


I’m kinda worried what people will think of me, if I tell them I’m learning about this stuff.

“Oh, Mothman, you should get some crystals, and hang them over your chakras. HAHAHAHA!”

What do you think? Is flourishing worth learning about?

MothmanWell… I wonder if not thinking about this stuff makes sense. I dunno, it’s our lives, right?

People have been thinking about flourishing throughout history. People like Aristotle. More than 2,000 years ago, he wrote The Nicomachean Ethics. For him, flourishing is the highest human good. So you’re in good company.

MothmanSo I should just tell everyone about it?

For example, if there’s someone in your family who’d make your life hell for reading “that brainiac garbage,” don’t tell them you’re doing it. Someone who’d punish you for thinking about your life… do they deserve to know?

Matcha gives you permission to hide things from them, even to fib to them. You deserve to feel safe, as you explore flourishing. Everyone does.

If they do find out, having some quotes about flourishing from people they admire might help. There are quotes around the island, about all sorts of things.

Flourishing is about… well, your life. How you can thrive.

We talked about the Three Lives model. The pleasant life is mainly about emotional state. It’s affected by your emotional baseline, physical pleasures (chocolate!), your body, and having people to hang out with.

The main parts of the fulfilling life are skills and close relationships. There’s a nugget area about how to learn skills efficiently. There’s another one about relationships. That’s one of the most important on the island. Other people cause life’s highest highs, and lowest lows.

The third one is the meaningful life. For many people, that’s about serving something greater than yourself, like a cause. There’s an area on the island just about that.

OK, I think I understand the Three Lives model. But how do I use it?

Three Lives is a rough guide. Don’t get hung up on the fuzzy edges of things. Flourishing is squishy.

As you explore, cast your detection spell often (the P key). Things you can interact with, some of them knowledge nuggets, will show you where they are. Some are on the main island, but many are in tiny towns.

We hope you’ll find something useful. If you have a suggestion, like a topic we should cover, please let us know. You can so that in the game, or use the suggestion form on this site.

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