One thing you can expect from Matthew McConaughey is that he always has something interesting to say. He is also introspective and emotional. He is curious and fun. And, every so often, a little eccentric. This combination of thoughtfulness and strangeness finds its way into the roles he plays, which makes him a fan favorite. Greenlights is his way to seize the day and constantly be moving forward — a life lesson he has learned and is eager to share.
“The No. 1 celebrity memoir of the past 10 years.”—USA Today
“McConaughey’s book invites us to grapple with the lessons of his life as he did—and to see that the point was never to win, but to understand.”—Mark Manson, author of The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck
I’ve been in this life for fifty years, been trying to work out its riddle for forty-two, and been keeping diaries of clues to that riddle for the last thirty-five. Notes about successes and failures, joys and sorrows, things that made me marvel, and things that made me laugh out loud. How to be fair. How to have less stress. How to have fun. How to hurt people less. How to get hurt less. How to be a good man. How to have meaning in life. How to be more me.
Recently, I worked up the courage to sit down with those diaries. I found stories I experienced, lessons I learned and forgot, poems, prayers, prescriptions, beliefs about what matters, some great photographs, and a whole bunch of bumper stickers. I found a reliable theme, an approach to living that gave me more satisfaction, at the time, and still: If you know how, and when, to deal with life’s challenges—how to get relative with the inevitable—you can enjoy a state of success I call “catching greenlights.”
So I took a one-way ticket to the desert and wrote this book: an album, a record, a story of my life so far. This is fifty years of my sights and seens, felts and figured-outs, cools and shamefuls. Graces, truths, and beauties of brutality. Getting away withs, getting caughts, and getting wets while trying to dance between the raindrops.
Hopefully, it’s medicine that tastes good, a couple of aspirin instead of the infirmary, a spaceship to Mars without needing your pilot’s license, going to church without having to be born again, and laughing through the tears.
It’s a love letter. To life.
It’s also a guide to catching more greenlights—and to realizing that the yellows and reds eventually turn green too.
The short dust jacket included with this hardcover edition is an intentional design choice.
Related collections and offers
|Publisher:||Crown Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||6.20(w) x 8.60(h) x 1.30(d)|
About the Author
In 2009, Matthew and his wife, Camila, founded the just keep livin Foundation, which helps at-risk high school students make healthier mind, body, and spirit choices. In 2019, McConaughey became a professor of practice at the University of Texas at Austin, as well as Minister of Culture/M.O.C. for the University of Texas and the City of Austin. McConaughey is also brand ambassador for Lincoln Motor Company, an owner of the Major League Soccer club Austin FC, and co-creator of his favorite bourbon on the planet, Wild Turkey Longbranch.
Read an Excerpt
This is not a traditional memoir. Yes, I tell stories from the past, but I have no interest in nostalgia, sentimentality, or the retirement most memoirs require. This is not an advice book, either. Although I like preachers, I’m not here to preach and tell you what to do.
This is an approach book. I am here to share stories, insights, and philosophies that can be objectively understood, and if you choose, subjectively adopted, by either changing your reality, or changing how you see it.
This is a playbook, based on adventures in my life. Adventures that have been significant, enlightening, and funny, sometimes because they were meant to be but mostly because they didn’t try to be. I’m an optimist by nature, and humor has been one of my great teachers. It has helped me deal with pain, loss, and lack of trust. I’m not perfect; no, I step in shit all the time and recognize it when I do. I’ve just learned how to scrape it off my boots and carry on.
We all step in shit from time to time. We hit roadblocks, we f*** up, we get f***ed, we get sick, we don’t get what we want, we cross thousands of “could have done better”s and “wish that wouldn’t have happened”s in life. Stepping in shit is inevitable, so let’s either see it as good luck, or figure out how to do it less often.
What is a greenlight?
Greenlights mean go—advance, carry on, continue.
On the road, they are set up to give the flow of traffic the right of way, and when scheduled properly, more vehicles catch more greenlights in succession. They say proceed.
In our lives, they are an affirmation of our way. They’re approvals, support, praise, gifts, gas on our fire, attaboys, and appetites. They’re cash money, birth, springtime, health, success, joy, sustainability, innocence, and fresh starts. We love greenlights. They don’t interfere with our direction. They’re easy. They’re a shoeless summer. They say yes and give us what we want.
Greenlights can also be disguised as yellow and red lights. A caution, a detour, a thoughtful pause, an interruption, a disagreement, indigestion, sickness, and pain. A full stop, a jackknife, an intervention, failure, suffering, a slap in the face, death. We don’t like yellow and red lights. They slow us down or stop our flow. They’re hard. They’re a shoeless winter. They say no, but sometimes give us what we need.
Catching greenlights is about skill: intent, context, consideration, endurance, anticipation, resilience, speed, and discipline. We can catch more greenlights by simply identifying where the red lights are in our life, and then change course to hit fewer of them. We can also earn greenlights, engineer and design for them. We can create more and schedule them in our future—a path of least resistance—through force of will, hard work, and the choices we make. We can be responsible for greenlights.
Catching greenlights is also about timing. The world’s timing, and ours. When we are in the zone, on the frequency, and with the flow. We can catch greenlights by sheer luck, because we are in the right place at the right time. Catching more of them in our future can be about intuition, karma, and fortune. Sometimes catching greenlights is about fate.
Navigating the autobahn of life in the best way possible is about getting relative with the inevitable at the right time. The inevitability of a situation is not relative; when we accept the outcome of a given situation as inevitable, then how we choose to deal with it is relative. We either persist and continue in our present pursuit of a desired result, pivot and take a new tack to get it, or concede altogether and tally one up for fate. We push on, call an audible, or wave the white flag and live to fight another day.
The secret to our satisfaction lies in which one of these we choose to do when.
This is the art of livin.
I believe everything we do in life is part of a plan. Sometimes the plan goes as intended, and sometimes it doesn’t. That’s part of the plan. Realizing this is a greenlight in itself.
The problems we face today eventually turn into blessings in the rearview mirror of life. In time, yesterday’s red light leads us to a greenlight. All destruction eventually leads to construction, all death eventually leads to birth, all pain eventually leads to pleasure. In this life or the next, what goes down will come up.
It’s a matter of how we see the challenge in front of us and how we engage with it. Persist, pivot, or concede. It’s up to us, our choice every time.
This is a book about how to catch more yeses in a world of nos and how to recognize when a no might actually be a yes. This is a book about catching greenlights and realizing that the yellows and reds eventually turn green.
By design and on purpose . . . Good luck.