An instruction manual on “the art of livin” and a clear lens to recognise when no might actually mean yes.

Personal Notes

Greenlights, written by Matthew McConaughey, isn’t an autobiography. It is a journal offered to the world. Matthew is vulnerable and candid about his experiences and goes deeper to recount his wet dreams at the core of his most amazing adventures.

Greenlights is a book about enjoying the journey. It is full of how to’s, sticky notes, photos and poems. Greenlights is Matthew’s love letter to life and a reminder that if we keep livin, we will eventually catch greenlights and those that are yellows and reds eventually turn into green. This is a story about getting relative with the inevitable.

Greenlights are affirmations on our way. They are approvals, support, praises, gifts, gas on our fire, attaboys, appetites, cash, birth, springtime, health, success, joy, sustainability, innocence and fresh starts. They can also be disguised — they can be a caution, a detour, a thoughtful pause, an interruption, a disagreement, indigestion, sickness, pain, failure, suffering and death.

Book notes

  • Stepping in shit is inevitable. Let’s either see it as good luck or figure out how to do it less often. Matthew reminds us, that when we step into shit, we should scrape it off our boots and carry on.

  • Matthew talks about his mum, who taught her “audacious existentialism”. The sheer belief of sleeping with regrets but waking up with none, walking in place as you own it. Matthew’s mum thought him that “if you understand something then you own it” and “forgive yourself if you want zero stress”.

  • Process of elimination and Identity. The first step that leads to our identity in life is usually not “I know who I am”, but rather “I know who I’m not”.

  • Too many options make us a tyrant out of any of us, so we should get rid of the excess in our lives that keep us from being more of ourselves. When we decrease the options that don’t feed us, we eventually, almost accidentally, have more options in front of us that do.

  • Life is hard, and Matthew insists on learning to get relative with the inevitable. We have to learn to be persistent as we can not fully appreciate the light without the shadows. We have to be thrown off balance to find our footing.

  • Fascinated with the differences between people and cultures, I’ve always enjoyed looking for and finding the common denominator of values that are the foundation beneath our distinctions. Matthew wanted to enlarge his tribe with people from different cultures and views. He enjoyed travelling in the amazons, Mali and all over the world. He wanted to understand the common denominator of human values.

  • The pleasure is for rent, and so is the pain. This book is full of beautiful poems. This line is from the “Days of Prosperity” poem. A reminder that good and bad cross each other more than we would like, but that is life.

  • Less impressed, more involved. The sooner we become less impressed with our lives, accomplishments, careers, relationships, and prospects in front of us — the sooner we become more involved with these — the sooner we get better at them.

  • If you are a starter and you think you should be, give them no choice in the decision, play so well it’s undeniable. The plan is to be so good that they can’t ignore you.

  • We must learn the consequence of negligence — It’s not just what we do, it’s what we don’t do that’s important as well.

  • Sometimes we don’t need advice. Sometimes we need to hear we’re not the only one. Matthew reflects on the time he poured his shortcomings and “demons of mind” to brother Christian for three hours, and his answer at the end was “Me, too”.

  • Don’t invent drama. It will come on its own. This line is from “the art of running downhill poem”.

  • Just because the seats are empty doesn’t mean they’re not taken. Sometimes the guest list needs to be for one. YOU.

  • Sometimes we have to leave what we know to find out what we know. The book is full of Matthew’s adventures across the planet, which started from wet dreams, and he chased his wet dreams.

  • Common sense is like money and health; once you have it, you have to keep it.

  • Localize to customize. Adapt to modify. The renaissance man is at home wherever he goes.

  • Sometimes which choice you make is not as important as making a choice and committing to it.

  • Educate before you indict.

  • Some people look for an excuse to DO. Others look for an excuse NOT to.

  • It is not about win or loses; it is about to do you accept the challenge.

  • Our souls are infinitely magnetic.

  • When you can, ask yourself if you want to before you do.

  • Words are momentary; Intent is momentous.

  • Sometimes we find our frequency by holding on to a moral bottom line in the midst of chaos. Sometimes we find it by breaking the rules and running the red light to get home.

  • The only thing I ever knew I wanted to be was a father. To me, fatherhood meant a man had made it in life. I loved this so much, as I hold the same belief.

  • The great man is not all to each. He is each to all. The genius can do anything but does one thing at a time.

  • It’s not a risk unless you can lose the fight.

  • Suppose we all made sense of humour the default emotion. We’d all get along better.

  • All art is self-expression. All self-expression is not art.

  • We are not here to tolerate our differences. We are here to accept them. We are not here to celebrate our sameness. We are here to salute our distinctions, not born into equal circumstances, or with equal abilities, we should have equal opportunity. As individuals, we unite in our values. Celebrate that.

  • People wonder how to make it in life. First of kin with innate ability and a lotta hard work. Yes. But don’t forget the steam. The undefined asterisk and intangible. Some call it juice. Some call it magic. The genie’s in the magic. The magic’s in the steam.

  • We have to do the work to do the job then we have to prepare for the job so we can be free to do the work.

  • The arrow doesn’t seek the target. The target draws the arrow. We must be aware of what we attract in life because it is no accident or coincidence.

  • The spider waits in his web for dinner to come. Yes, we must chase what we want, seek it out, cast our lines in the water. But sometimes we don’t need to make things happen.


Matthew guides us on how to catch, earn and create more GREENLIGHTS in our lives. It is an instruction manual on “the art of livin” and a clear lens to recognise when no might actually mean yes.

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