Takeaways from Matthew McConaughey’s Greenlights

By: Gabriela Yareliz

I love a good biography. The more unconventional the life, the better. I think there is something powerful about learning from other’s experiences and also expanding your world beyond how you were raised and conditioned. I was fascinated by Greenlights, as it lays out philosophies intertwined with McConaughey’s life experiences. His voice and authenticity gripped me. His thoughts reflect a life well-lived and are filled with intentional choices. I would highly recommend. This bio is officially in my top three with Total Recall by Arnold Schwarzenegger (the man is relentless and multi-faceted) and Me by Elton John (outrageous, dripping in talent and color). Greenlights, however, is not your typical biography. In it, McConaughey reveals himself to be a thinker and philosopher for our time.

Here were my favorite takeaways:

You can use difficult moments to create your character and identity

McConaughey retells a mind-bending experience he had while in high school, living with a family that was off its rocker in Australia. He stayed the time he said he would stay (integrity), and he figured out ways to cope with the madness and also solidified who he was as a person. He allowed the bad situation to shape him in an unshakable way. He showed serious guts and resilience. (This incredible story is in Part 2 of the book)

“Knowing who we are is hard. Eliminate who we’re not first, and we’ll find ourselves where we need to be.” Matthew McConaughey

Once you have defined who you are and what success means to you, everything else is a bonus

McConaughey wrote about Hollywood: “Want her don’t need her.” Enough said. He showed this time and time again in the roles he chose, his time away from Hollywood, and how he marked Hollywood in his comeback.

Boundaries lead to freedom

“We need finites, borders, gravity, demarcations, shape, and resistance, to have order. This order creates responsibility. The responsibility creates judgment. The judgment creates choice. In the choice lies the freedom.” Matthew McConaughey

Seek people and experiences that are different from your own

Many of the things McConaughey learned and experienced were due to the fact that he was willing to take a risk, humble himself and meet someone else on their turf.

If it’s not a hell yes, it’s a hell no

Choices are freedom. Choices build a life. Make sure you are building the life you want. It’s never too late to reinvent yourself.

Take time-outs to reset, spiritually

Every time McConaughey felt he was losing himself or his footing, he took time to walk out and reconnect with God and himself. Sometimes, this meant floating in the Amazon. Sometimes, this meant time in isolation at a monastery or in the desert. He was never afraid of taking the time to listen and reset. In this day and age where we are constantly seeking external validation and connection, it’s important to remind ourselves that we need to walk away sometimes to reset in what truly matters.

Value truth

“God, when I cross the truth give me the awareness to receive it, the consciousness to recognize it, the presence to personalize it, the patience to preserve it and the courage to live it.” Matthew McConaughey

He writes that we need to put ourselves in the position to receive truth. Truth has to be something we need, but it also has to be something we want.

It takes energy to preserve good things

He shows this in his career, he shows this in the dedication he has toward his wife and family, and in how he has walked his journey.

“Common sense is like money, and health, once you have it, you have to work to keep it.” Matthew McConaughey

Expect the unbelievable

Have faith so you can embrace the surprises along the way.

“Don’t act so surprised, unbelievable happens all the time, sometimes it’s divine, and sometimes it’s a loogie in our face. Don’t deny it. Depend on it, expect it. Believe it.” Matthew McConaughey

In other words, as the title of this blog suggests– expect miracles.

“The target draws the arrow”

If you are looking for McConaughey to spill on past relationships, he doesn’t. And while I was curious about them (given that I am naturally curious), I loved that he didn’t even discuss them. He discusses the only relationship that he is working to make last forever, the one with his wife. She is the only one mentioned; the only one his soul needed to find.

Live your legacy now

Today matters. Tomorrow matters. Give it everything you’ve got. Be truly alive.

Published by Gabriela Yareliz

Gabriela is a writer, editor and attorney. She loves the art of storytelling, and she is based in NYC.

4 thoughts on “Takeaways from Matthew McConaughey’s Greenlights

      1. His voice is so great. I don’t usually like to be read to but I might have to make an exception in this case😀

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