Greenlights

Greenlights

by Matthew McConaughey

Audio CD

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Overview

Notes From Your Bookseller

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.

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • From the Academy Award®–winning actor, an unconventional memoir filled with raucous stories, outlaw wisdom, and lessons learned the hard way about living with greater satisfaction

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY THE GUARDIAN


“Unflinchingly honest and remarkably candid, Matthew 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.
 
Good luck.

The short dust jacket included with this hardcover edition is an intentional design choice.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Matthew McConaughey’s book is exactly what we needed after the frenzy of Campaign 2020. . . . [A] much-needed breather . . . [and] a recuperative journey . . . it is both calming and laugh, laugh, laugh-out-loud funny.”Hugh Hewitt, The Washington Post

“A delightful surprise, full of stories that [haven’t] been shared on late night talk shows or made headlines over the years. It’s a wild ride to be sure, but if you enjoy McConaughey and all of the eccentricities and contradictions that come with him, it’s one you won’t want to miss.”Texas Monthly

“A brilliant memoir . . . [Greenlights] is unmistakeably ‘a book that only Matthew McConaughey could have written.’ This is a good thing.”The Times Magazine (UK)

“McConaughey’s own story is arguably more interesting than any character he has embodied on the silver screen over the decades.”USA Today

“Delightfully voicey.”GQ

“McConaughey’s approach to memoir is the opposite of careful, instead opting for pure candor. . . . Taken together, the stories in Greenlights paint the picture of someone who could not care less of what the world thinks of him, which has—not coincidentally—resulted in lots of people in the world liking the actor and his work.”—John Warner, Chicago Tribune

“At its best moments, Greenlights . . . delivers memorable life lessons.”—Pico Iyer, Air Mail

“McConaughey is a talented actor and a fine writer, but a total genius at living. He attacks life with an exhilarating ferocity. This is a wildly unexpected and delightful book you can’t just read, you have to experience.”—Lawrence Wright, author of The End of October

“It shouldn’t surprise you that this book is good, but it will surprise you just how good it is.
 Wise and entertaining, this is an inspiring memoir and how-to from one of the great outlaw philosophers and artists of our time.”—Ryan Holiday, author of The Daily Stoic

“A Renaissance man on the big screen, McConaughey shows he is the same on the page. Mystical and spiritual but mostly just wonderful, Greenlights is an inspired memoir that celebrates the idea that it’s the journey rather than the destination that will fulfill us.”—Michael Connelly, author of Fair Warning

“Written with great intensity and rare candor, Greenlights is a whirlwind of wisdom that’s as singular and fervent as its author. Read the book, experience the behind-the-scenes adventures, then pursue your own greenlights full throttle.”—Shaka Smart, head coach, men’s basketball, The University of Texas at Austin

Greenlights is many different books at once: an entertaining autobiography, a delightful adventure story, a very funny comedy, a wise self-help guide, an inspiring argument for love and family, and a candid tale of spiritual and personal discovery. I cannot recommend it highly enough.”—John Mackey, co-founder and CEO of Whole Foods Market, co-author of Conscious Leadership

Kirkus Reviews

2020-10-27
All right, all right, all right: The affable, laconic actor delivers a combination of memoir and self-help book.

“This is an approach book,” writes McConaughey, adding that it contains “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.” Some of those philosophies come in the form of apothegms: “When you can design your own weather, blow in the breeze”; “Simplify, focus, conserve to liberate.” Others come in the form of sometimes rambling stories that never take the shortest route from point A to point B, as when he recounts a dream-spurred, challenging visit to the Malian musician Ali Farka Touré, who offered a significant lesson in how disagreement can be expressed politely and without rancor. Fans of McConaughey will enjoy his memories—which line up squarely with other accounts in Melissa Maerz’s recent oral history, Alright, Alright, Alright—of his debut in Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused, to which he contributed not just that signature phrase, but also a kind of too-cool-for-school hipness that dissolves a bit upon realizing that he’s an older guy on the prowl for teenage girls. McConaughey’s prep to settle into the role of Wooderson involved inhabiting the mind of a dude who digs cars, rock ’n’ roll, and “chicks,” and he ran with it, reminding readers that the film originally had only three scripted scenes for his character. The lesson: “Do one thing well, then another. Once, then once more.” It’s clear that the author is a thoughtful man, even an intellectual of sorts, though without the earnestness of Ethan Hawke or James Franco. Though some of the sentiments are greeting card–ish, this book is entertaining and full of good lessons.

A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780593416952
Publisher: Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Group
Publication date: 01/05/2021
Sales rank: 17,322
Product dimensions: 5.06(w) x 5.87(h) x 1.11(d)

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.

greenlights.


By design and on purpose . . . Good luck.

Customer Reviews