Transmutation Tool

February 12, 2020 § 21 Comments[ Philip Rubinov-Jacobson]

In a culture created to make us want more of what we don’t have, gratitude for what we have is a radical act.

Three months into a deep winter depression, I knew I needed a new tool. A way to dissolve the psychic film that had formed over my eyes, separating me from myself, the world and the truth.

I know how to pick myself up, one piece at a time. I’ve had a lot of practice. But none of my old transmutation tools were working. And this was beginning to scare me.

Around this time, my trusted friend Grace told me she was halfway through  “28 days of gratitude”—part of a book by Rhonda Byrne, called “The Magic.”  The book’s practices had elevated her daily feeling-state so much, she wanted to share it. Would I, and several friends, be interested in joining her? I found a free PDF version online and said yes! I would commit to 28 consecutive days of gratitude practices.[Artist unknown]

I wasn’t without resistance. “Gratitude, rhymes with platitude” chimed my inner cynic. I told myself I was doing it for Grace, for solidarity. I associated the word gratitude with sunset beach photos on Instagram and the caption #grateful—to which the inner cynic would think, “Yeah, I’d be grateful, too, if I were there.”

But I trusted my friend, and I had nothing to lose. So I gave it a shot.

I began my first gratitude list in a morning fog of grump and grog—I am one of those “not a morning person” people—and finished…feeling downright upbeat. The shift was remarkable. I felt alive again, present, awake; the film burned from my eyes.

The next day I approached the practice with more interest. Again, the perspective shift was uncanny.

The third day, I actually woke up excited to make my list because of the fix of positive feelings it created.


By the fourth or fifth day I found myself transforming. I noticed every little joy around me. The fact that each chapter in the book highlights different areas of focus for one’s gratitude acted as added support and inspiration.

How could I have taken so much for granted? The food in my fridge. The clean water at my disposal. The fact that I live during a time when the entire archive of the world’s collected knowledge exists at our literal fingertips. The roof over my head. The peaceful existence and beauty of trees. The use of my legs. The feeling of my cat’s fur and the sound of her purr. The fact that I have eyes, hands, taste; the gift of sentience, of consciousness, of having a body—the opportunity of a day, the gift of my life.

I felt moved to tears. Humbled and awash with reignited appreciation for the world around me.

uta_barth_002[Uta Barth]

Intentional gratitude interrupts the trance state of complacency we fall into when we see the same things every day, rebooting our perception to see the world through fresh eyes.

I think no matter what or how little we have, focusing on what one does have breeds empowerment, uplift, joy—is medicine. I think of Nina Simone’s iconic and triumphant song “Ain’t Got No – I Got Life,” from the musical, “Hair”:

I ain’t got no home, ain’t got no shoes
Ain’t got no money, ain’t got no class
Ain’t got no skirts, ain’t got no sweater
Ain’t got no perfume, ain’t got no bed
Ain’t got no man

Ain’t got no mother, ain’t got no culture
Ain’t got no friends, ain’t got no schoolin’
Ain’t got no love, ain’t got no name
Ain’t got no ticket, ain’t got no token
Ain’t got no god

Hey, what have I got?
Why am I alive , anyway?
Yeah, what have I got
Nobody can take away?

Got my hair, got my head
Got my brains, got my ears
Got my eyes, got my nose
Got my mouth, I got my smile
I got my tongue, got my chin
Got my neck, got my boobies
Got my heart, got my soul
Got my back, I got my sex

I got my arms, got my hands
Got my fingers, got my legs
Got my feet, got my toes
Got my liver, got my blood

I’ve got life, I’ve got my freedom
I’ve got life
I’ve got the life
And I’m going to keep it
I’ve got the life

[The High Priestess of Soul, Nina Simone]

The 28 consecutive days of various gratitude practices presented in “The Magic” banished my months-long depression and forever changed my perspective. I’m not saying depression is as simple as a negative outlook, but state of mind does effect mood, and I think having a gratitude practice is a powerful tool to help manage depression.

I can’t recommend a daily gratitude practice enough. If you want to jump-start your joy try the 28 day challenge.

If the inner landscape can be likened to a wild and sometimes dark wood, then gratitude is my sacred fire—it warms me, lights my way and keeps back the predators.


I want to hear from you! What are your thoughts and experiences on this subject? Comments will automatically be entered into a raffle held on the last day of February 2020. The winner will receive a gifted copy of the book, “The Magic.”


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§ 21 Responses to Transmutation Tool

  • Andrew Demirdjian says:

    Thank you for this. I just reminded my friends earlier today about taking a moment to be grateful for the blessings. We get caught up with the business and forget this. I find 15 min meditation is helpful with this. I’ll be downloading the audiobook by Rhonda Byrne. Have a blessed day!

    Sent from my iPhone


    • Tai Woodville says:

      Hey, thanks for letting me know you enjoyed the read, Andrew! That’s a nice synchronicity & affirmation that you were just mentioning it to your friends today! 😀 I totally agree re meditation–my go-to is ten minutes. It helps so much! Grounding, centering, gets me out of my head and into my body/presence…so good!

      Just a quick note re the PDF…I only read it online and have not personally downloaded it…I doubt there would be a malware issue…seems like someone just posted the content in a free share act sort of way. But I can’t guarantee download safety–I just read it online. 🙂

      On on!

      And thanks for the comment! 🙂


    • Tai Woodville says:

      Congratulations, Andrew! You are the lucky recipient of our February raffle! Please email your address to to receive your WINNER’S COPY of “The Magic!”

  • batgurrl says:

    Oh my goodness!! i am so thankful you shared this Gem with us. I read the opening section of the book and am ready to start tomorrow morning. When I hit send on this message I am going to go find the special journal book to use and be ready.

    Lately, I feel I have lost my mojo too. Our politics have become so negative and the news never stops with all the other terrible things. I forgot to be grateful for all that I have and the magic it brings me. From my husband to being retired with comfort to my nature time.

    Bless you Tai. You have done it again!!!

    • Tai Woodville says:

      Hi batgurrl! Great to hear from you! 😀

      I’m so thrilled the post resonated.

      Yes, I agree, you’re right—politics & the news alone is enough to bring us all down. I had to consciously just stop engaging, because it was too depressing. But this to me is not apathy or lack of involvement —I just know I can do better work to lift up the world (the calling that gives my life purpose & joy) when I’m not depressed from listening to the latest news.

      If it brings me down, it’s not helping me or anyone else, is how I see it. People say “well, you have to stay involved! you have to stay informed!” Trust me. I don’t miss the big stuff because people in my life will always be talking about the big stuff. But I do end up having a lot less constant low grade white noise of anxiety in my life.

      What’s so inspiring about gratitude is that it brings you out of the headspace of all the wrong things happening in the world and into all of the right and beautiful things that are right here in our ACTUAL life. Not to say the rest of the world doesn’t matter…but it’s not helping them for us just to feel worse as we tune into their distress….I think we can do a lot more from the place of calmness & power & purpose that arises when we tune into what’s right before us in our lives. We can be more inspired and more motivated…and that’s better for everyone!

      Thank you for letting me know that this post performed its function of inspiration. That makes me happy to hear! 🙂 I’m so excited to hear you are doing the 28 days!! I think you will really find it beneficial—I think it would be impossible not to be enriched by it…I’d love to hear about your experience when you’re done!

      I hope people who do the 28 days will leave a comment sharing some of their experience here. 🙂

      On on!


  • Al says:

    Great post and perfectly timed, gratitude is a superb practice – it is the perfect antidote to our culture of endless desires.

    • Tai Woodville says:

      Thanks for your gratifying feedback, Al! 🙂 That makes me happy to hear.

      I love that phrasing, “A culture of endless desire.” So well put!

      Yes to gratitude as antidote.

      Thanks for your comment. 🙂

      On on,


  • Gratitude practice is one of the simplest ways to change, and elevate our vibration. It is indeed, true abundance. I have a nightly practice gratitude practice before I go to sleep each night. Also, I have that Nina Simone record on vinyl, that was my favorite song for almost 5 years 🥰 In a society that capitalizes on our discontent, and tries to tell us what we need to be happy, successful, and loved- being satisfied with what no one can take away can be its own form of activism. #leagueofgratitude

    • Tai Woodville says:

      I completely agree! It’s such a direct channel to elevating vibration/frequency/feeling state! I would say it’s simplest, most effective & direct one I have found. That’s why I felt I had to write about it. That’s been my experience as well. It’s remarkable!

      True abundance! You’re right. And true magic!

      I completely agree that in this capitalist society gratitude IS it’s own form of activism. Beautifully said! A radical act and the antidote (as another reader put it).

      That’s rad you have that record on vinyl. SO GOOD!

      Thanks for your comment, whitehearthenna! Thanks for being part of the conversation. 🙂

      Here’s to the league of gratitude–indeed!

      On on,

  • angelahite1 says:

    Tai, once again, you and I are on the same path. After a difficult year in 2018 (death of my brother, my mother being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and moving into an assisted living facility), I fell into a deep, dark well of grief. I let myself go there fully (I needed that, too), but at some point I I started what I called a “Small Joys” practice, which, of course, was a gratitude practice. The small joys were all I could reach at the time…hot coffee, cool rain, clean sheets, a shell found on the beach, a hummingbird in the backyard. But I would write them down, and whenever possible, take a photo, too. My writing group got involved with me, and we created a photo and essay book out of the practice, one of the most fulfilling creative experiences I have had.

    I applaud your practice and your beautiful post!

    • Tai Woodville says:


      First of all, I’m so sorry to hear about the loss of your brother. I know how devastating and gutting the grief of a loved one, especially a lifelong family member, is. There really is nothing so devastating. I am familiar with such loss.

      I’ve experienced a loved one/family member w/Alzheimer’s as well, and that erosion is also gutting…a slower death, losing them one thought at a time. The two together would put anyone in the dark well. And I think you are absolutely right…you had to sit there in the dark well and feel it in order to let it move through you…the only way out is through. Healthy. I’m glad you gave yourself that space to grieve.

      But eventually, yes, the soul craves sunlight again…and the nourishment of small joys. I absolutely love the story you shared with me about your small joys practice…that is truly beautiful and inspiring. And I LOVE that your writing group got involved and created a book out of it…how meaningful! I love the idea of taking a picture, and bringing in that visual element.

      I don’t think small joys are really small. 🙂 But I think in order to see them again it helps to frame them that way. 🙂

      Thank you so much for sharing your experience and your beautiful story! I hope you continue to hold the “small” joys close to your heart every day. As we know, they are life to the spirit! Nourishment.

      And I’m so thrilled you enjoyed the post. Thank you for telling me. That makes me so happy to hear.

      On on!


  • angelahite1 says:

    Another synchronicity I just realized…I wrote a piece once called The Gratitude Platitude! We are in sync, woman!

  • Marie Hegeman says:

    Tai, your post arrived at just the right time. I’ve completed the Simple Abundance 365 day program several times over the past 20 years – but I’m human, and I’m getting pulled down by this difficult world. I know that when we are grateful for small blessings, the universe takes note of our awareness and begins to send larger blessings our way. “The Magic,” which I intend to start today, will teach the same lessons in a different voice. I am looking forward to the next 28 days. Thank you! Much love to you!

    • Tai Woodville says:

      Wonderful to hear, Marie! Did you start the 28 days yet? Would love to hear about your experience. I’m thinking about starting mine over! 🙂

      I’m so glad the post was timely! 🙂 Thank you for letting me know.

      All love,


      • Marie Hegeman says:

        Yes, Tai, I started the 28 days on March 1st. I go down the list and find something to be thankful for in each of Rhonda’s 10 suggested topics every morning. I can tell you that gratitude has improved my memories of my late parents – I am remembering more good than not – and changed my relationship with money. Looking back I do see that there has always been enough, even when it was very little. Thank you for telling us about “The Magic.” The change in outlook is an incredible blessing and I am grateful to you! — Much love, today and always. – Marie

    • Tai Woodville says:

      That’s marvelous, Marie! I’m thrilled to hear it. 🙂 Much love returned.


  • Hello Tai, it’s wonderful to hear from you! I admit to being a little skeptical of all this gratitude stuff, mainly because so many people are talking about it. Now that you’re talking about it, however, I’m more intrigued, since you’ve never led me wrong before. Perhaps I’ll give it a try…

    • Tai Woodville says:

      Hi Josh!

      Nice to hear from you! 🙂 I’m thrilled to know the article opened up something which before appeared opaque. That is a true compliment. 🙂

      I felt the same for many years when people talked about gratitude. There just seemed a holier-than-tho sort of self-satisfied spiritual smugness to the idea of preaching gratitude. “Oh, aren’t *you* great!” my inner cynic would snort. I totally resisted it. And in fact, resisted doing these practices…only doing them for my friend….which soon proved laughable, as I saw how much they were actively elevating my feeling state & presence.

      I cut down my description of the resistance in my post because I was worried it might come off as snarky towards my friend, who recommended the practice…but I actually wish I’d left more of that in and may add more on that aspect, because I think it’s important to talk about the feelings that come up in protest of gratitude as a practice.

      The fact that gratitude practice has become trendy does imbue one with an extra level of mistrust, potentially…that’s certainly where I was coming from. However, upon doing the exercises presented in “the Magic” for a few days I realized it is actually an ancient/timeless spiritual key which has just been seized on and repackaged by contemporary self-help sorts because of its profound power.

      I highly recommend using the book as an introduction to these practices. Be forewarned—the inner skeptic will likely have a field day with the author’s writing style/tone/approach to the material. I know mine did. lol. Just try to disregard that element—though the content is still worth reading for the way she sets up the basic principals & context. Just know that going in, and try the practices for a few days regardless. It’s a definitely a “proof is in the pudding” sort of thing. I suggest committing to a week as an experiment, just to see what internal shifts take place in your perception. I’d love to hear about your experience here if you do! 😀

      Thanks for stopping by. 🙂
      On on!


  • Jamon says:

    Lovely..gratitude is very powerful…❤

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