374: Refraining from Complaining, an Easy Health Hack, and We Talk about “Deaf Utopia” with Star Nyle DiMarco


Gold star if you vote for the Happier app for the Webby award for Best Visual Design! Click here — it’s quick and easy to vote. Many thanks to everyone who has voted; it’s so appreciated. Voting ends at midnight on April 21, so act fast!

A listener mentioned that our gold star/hack from episode 352 worked well for her: to quiet a crowd, blow into a harmonica. 

Try This at Home

Keep refraining from complaining. In episode 371, we announced that we were going to try to stop complaining for the month of April. We report on our experiences, and the experiences and suggestions of listeners. Many people recommended A Complaint Free World: How to Stop Complaining and Start Enjoying the Life You Want (AmazonBookshop) by Will Bowen.

From Thomas Merton’s Thoughts in Solitude (AmazonBookshop)I quote the observation, “Those who are not grateful soon begin to complain of everything.” 

Happiness Hack

If you have a rash, swelling, redness, or other issues with your skin, mark the boundaries with a Sharpie, so you can tell more easily if your condition is changing. 

Interview: Nyle DiMarco

Nyle Dimarco is an actor, producer, advocate, and writer. He won both America’s Next Top Model and Dancing with the Stars. He recently was executive producer of the  award-winning docu-series Deaf U, which follows the lives of a tight-knit group of Deaf and hard of hearing students at Gallaudet University — I recently binge-watched the entire season in a single night. And he was executive producer of the Oscar-nominated short documentary Audible, which follows a Maryland School for the Deaf football player and his teammates and friends as they navigate their senior year of high school. And he’s just published written a memoir: Deaf Utopia: A Memoir—and a Love Letter to a Way of Life (AmazonBookshop).

Before becoming the actor, producer, advocate, and model that people know today, Nyle DiMarco was half of a pair of Deaf twins born to a multi-generational Deaf family in Queens, New York. At the hospital one day after he was born, Nyle “failed” his first test—a hearing test—to the joy and excitement of his parents. In this engrossing memoir, Nyle shares stories, both heartbreaking and humorous, of what it means to navigate a world built for hearing people. From growing up in a rough-and-tumble childhood in Queens with his big and loving Italian-American family to where he is now, Nyle has always been driven to explore beyond the boundaries given him. A college math major and athlete at Gallaudet—the famed university for the Deaf in Washington, DC—Nyle was drawn as a young man to acting, and dove headfirst into the reality show competitions America’s Next Top Model and Dancing with the Stars—ultimately winning both competitions. Deaf Utopia is more than a memoir, it is a cultural anthem—a proud and defiant song of Deaf culture and a love letter to American Sign Language, Nyle’s primary language. Through his stories and those of his Deaf brothers, parents, and grandparents, Nyle opens many windows into the Deaf experience.

We discuss subjects such as…

  • Given the fact that he’s involved in so many projects, why did he decide to write a book, too?
  • It’s so extraordinary to win both America’s Next Top Model and Dancing with the Stars. How did those wins propel his career?
  • How did he start executive-producing?
  • What are his hopes for inclusion and authentic representation in the entertainment industry?
  • Part of his work is educating the hearing community about the Deaf community. What does he most want people to understand?
  • How did his personal connection to the schools featured in Audible and Deaf U inspire the stories?

Nyle DiMarco’s Try This at Home:
 Stretch every morning.

Demerits and Gold Stars

Elizabeth’s Demerit: She didn’t send a housewarming gift to her writing partner Sarah Fain — but having given herself the demerit, she’s now done it. 

Gretchen Gold Star: I give a gold star to sanitation workers. It’s so easy to take things for granted, and I realize how much I value the contribution of sanitation workers. 


  • Need gift ideas for a mother in your life (or for yourself)? Consider the One-Sentence Journal from The Happiness Project Collection. It’s a great gift for caregivers, new mothers, or mothers entering a new stage in their parenting. It’s a fun way to keep track of little memories and moments.
  • Friendship Jump-StartWe may assume that friendships should come naturally, but they can require real effort. I’ve created a collection of free tools—a 7-day SMS Challenge, a downloadable worksheet, and more—to support your aims, whether you’re looking to make new friends or deepen existing bonds.

What we’re reading

  • Elizabeth: The Unsinkable Greta James by Jennifer E. Smith (AmazonBookshop)
  • Gretchen: A Vicarage Family: A Biography of Myself by Noel Streatfeild (Amazon)

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