Greenlights Book Cover

Alright, Alright, Alright: Everything You Need To Know About Matthew McConaughey’s New Book "Greenlights"

"Let me tell you this, the older you do get the more rules they're gonna try to get you to follow. You just gotta keep livin' man, L-I-V-I-N." 

That quote, taken from Matthew McConaughey's breakout role in Dazed and Confused, could not be any more fitting for both his outlaw persona and his book Greenlights. Born in Uvalde, Texas on Nov. 4, 1969, McConaughey is not only one of the most successful actors of the late 19th and 21st centuries but has also grown to become the living definition of what many consider to be a southern gentleman. He is an avid Texas Longhorn fan and even considering a political run for Texas governor in the future. 

The memoir, which was released on Oct. 20, is described by McConaughey as an untraditional album filled with "[50] 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." It was originally set to be released using a ghostwriter, but that idea ending up falling apart, leading him to release the book with his name attached to it.

On the first page of the book, he clarifies that while he tells stories of his past, he has no interest in being nostalgic or sentimental, nor does he plan on retiring anytime soon, like most people who write memoirs. He also makes it clear that his first book is an approach book, not an advice book. He is not here to preach to his audience but rather to share stories, insights and philosophies that the reader can adopt if they choose. 

In an interview with the New York Times, he makes it clear that he has had to work hard to get to where he is in life. He is fully aware that there are people who look upon his life from afar and think, “Gosh dang, McConaughey just eases right into everything—the guy doesn’t seem to have any bumps, doesn’t get hit crossing the road.” This common misconception, he says, is one of his key reasons for releasing this atypical memoir.

For 36 years of his life, he has been writing in journals and diaries, and as he said in an IGTV video, “Writing down anything that turned me on and turned me off, made me laugh, made me cry, made me question, or kept me up at night.” But it wasn’t until a couple of years ago that McConaughey even considered revisiting them, let alone releasing his findings with the world because his wife gave him a “kick in the backside” telling him to do so. And that he did; he left for the desert with those diaries and spent 52 days with no electricity and seclusion, and the rest is history.

The book's title refers to the general theme that McConaughey discovered when he was flipping through his many diaries of stories and thoughts. When driving, greenlights signify that it is okay to continue and advance. However, McConaughey says that this idea of greenlights extends into our lives off the road as well. As defined by him, "They are an affirmation of our way. They are approvals, support, praise, gifts, gas on our fire, attaboys, and appetites." He says that we all love these "greenlights" because they are comfortable and give us what we want. However, quite often, these "greenlights" can be disguised as yellow and red ones. These yellow lights are detours, temporary things that slow us down, and red lights are "full stops." McConaughey explains that we don't like these two "lights," but more often than not, they give us what we need. 

Green Traffic Light Photo by Matheus Bardemaker from Unsplash

McConaughey says that "catching greenlights" is a skill. We can catch more of them by discovering where our yellow and red lights are, changing our course, and hitting fewer of them. He also says that we can do this by designing and creating them, so through will, hard work, and our choices, we can be responsible for our "greenlights." Lastly, catching them is an art of timing. When we are "in the zone, on the frequency, and with the flow," we can catch them by sheer luck, or by being in the right place at the right time. He ends his definition by saying that catching more of them in the future can also be about karma, intuition, fortune and even fate. 

"We all step in sh*t from time to time. We hit roadblocks, we f*ck up, we get f*cked, 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 sh*t is inevitable, so let's either see it as good luck or figure out how to do it less often," McConaughey says in Greenlights.

To learn more about McConaughey's "greenlights" philosophy, read his stories, and learn more about his approach to the rollercoaster of life, you can purchase his book at Target, Barnes and Noble, his Greenlights website or most other places you buy your books. You can also check out his Instagram @officiallymcconaughey to hear about his virtual book tour, see videos of him talking about the book, be the first to know when he releases his audiobook (you can listen to an excerpt here), or just keep up to date with one of America's favorite Texans. 

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