Matthew McConaughey’s Greenlights was my first experience with a book that could be labeled “self-help”, but I don’t really see it as that. It’s more of a collection of selected stories throughout his life and how how he navigated through those times.
Greenlights is about noticing when life gives you opportunities or maybe refrains from doing so. McConaughey says that sometimes life will give you a “red light” only for that red light to make way for a “green light” later on. How do we recognize these red lights and green lights throughout life so that we can make the most of them when they come?
I don’t consider this a self-help book because McConaughey doesn’t give us the answers to this question. Every life and person is different so it makes sense that one answer would not be a one-size-fits-all. McConaughey instead just gives us his experience and how he was able to navigate those red lights and green lights. He may not have always been happy with the red lights, but when looking back on them he realized that they opened up better opportunities for him.
He talks about family life at a young age and the sometimes tumultuous relationship between his parents. As a college student, he studied abroad in Australia and lived with a local family there. He also talks about navigating Hollywood while trying to navigate his new found fame.
One of my favorite parts of the book was when he talked about how he landed the now famous role in Dazed and Confused. Another great story was how he spent one summer as a kid building a 13-story tree house in the middle of the night to evade his dad’s notice.
The Final Thought:
This isn’t usually the type of book that I gravitate towards, but I think McConaughey is a respectable man and brings that southern DIY type style to living life that I also strive for in my own life. I’ve often thought about this book even after reading it. Even if I am just sitting at a red light or catch multiple green lights in a row, I always think back to this book and how that concept can be applied to life.