Matthew McConaughey's 5 Most Important Rules of Living

The phrase “Alright, Alright, Alright” has become a phenomenon to express being content at the moment, and to keep striving for a good time. These words were made famous by Matthew McConaughey in his debut film Dazed and Confused. And although his career started with a few scene-stealing lines, he has become an incredibly notable public figure.

We may enjoy the aura and essence of McConaughey’s personality, but there is wisdom in the words he speaks. In a recent commencement speech at the University of Houston, McConaughey talked about 5 rules and guidelines to remember as you work your way throughout life. If you follow his advice, you may just gain a similar appreciation for the world around you.

Here are Matthew McConaughey’s 5 Rules of Living.

1. Life is not easy

Regardless of who you are, we all face something at one point in our lives that calls for our inner strength. McConaughey stresses that we must stop calling ourselves victims because we’re not. The challenges of life have to be faced with acceptance and determination if we want to get to where we want to be.

How you react to life’s challenges will propel you through or overcome you. Inaction and self-pity aren’t going to provide you with any of the answers you’re seeking from your life.

2. Unbelievable is the dumbest word in the dictionary

This is a great point. While some achievements may seem incredibly unlikely, if you achieved it, then you should believe it. Imagine what could happen if you didn’t limit yourself based on what you believed you could accomplish. A big part of our failure stems from the barriers in our mind that tell us we can’t do something and instead we obsess and fawn over those who have achieved so much.

The people you admire most, the people who have created a life for themselves that you’ve never dreamed of, had the foresight to make the seemingly unbelievable happen. When you compare the achievements of others to yours, don’t think that you’re not as capable as them, because you are.

When you achieve these feats, you need to give yourself the credit you deserve. The goals we reach aren’t unbelievable because we willed them into reality.

3. Happiness is different than joy

In McConaughey’s speech, he talks about how complete happiness is incredibly hard to attain because it’s a response to a result. Joy is different because it’s a feeling we can earn without reaching someone else’s idea of success. As long as we’re doing the things that we’re meant to do, we can discover joy no matter how it shapes out for us.

Another great thing about the joy that McConaughey touches on is that it has the power to be constant. Happiness can’t be created, but joy can. Again, it all stems from doing the things that make you happy. You don’t have to abide by anyone else’s rules but your own. Follow your heart and let life take its course.

Matthew McConaughey getting ready to give his speech at the University of Houston. Image: Daniel Krammer, Houston Press

4. Define success for yourself

This is an incredibly important lesson that we all need to follow more. It can be incredibly tough not to compare your life to others, especially when we are more connected than ever through social media. A lot of times, we’ll focus on what we don’t have what others do. But you should really just stay focused on yourself. Your life’s mission may be similar to someone else’s but the pursuit is different, and your values are ever-changing.

The best thing you can do is to know exactly what you want and simply work towards it every day. What are the driving forces that let you become a better version of yourself? How will you let your success stem from joy? These are the things you need to focus on before you set your measures of success.

If you feel insecure about someone telling you what you don’t have, then you need to take a second look and unlock your joy, which in turn will unlock your success. Once you’re comfortable with what you have, and what direction your life is headed in, then you’ve reached a level of success that matters to you.

5. Use the process of elimination

In order to find out who we are, we first have to find out who we are not. This can be a tough process with valuable life lessons to be learned, but it’s absolutely essential for getting the most we can out of life. The process of elimination can be used for a lot of things such as discovering passions and forming your values.

Eliminating things from your life may sound negative, but it’s really quite the opposite. This is how we establish a clear path to the things we want most. It’s a necessary part of our evolution to figure out what we value and who we aspire to be. Using the process of elimination will help you in nearly every facet of life. It will help you pick the right career, find the right partner, and feel more secure with who you are.


While McConaughey’s films are the driving force for his fame, he has truly made himself well-known for his distinct personality and way of life. His 5 rules of living can jumpstart enough inspiration for you to achieve your goal.

Exploring even just one of these points and ingraining them in your life will do wonders when trying to discover your version of success. Use these lessons as a challenge to help you uncover some of the mysteries of your life, as there always be a lesson to learned.

The best part about these rules is that they can be implemented at any stage of your life. It’s never too late to discover who you are. It’s never too late to strive for something or to start searching for the peace of mind you’ve wanted all your life.

For all the knowledge we acquire in life, there’s always something more. It’s hard for the constants to stay. It takes a lot of work to sustain our version of success, but these rules will give us our best chance to make it happen.

The basis for this way of living inspired the creation of a charitable foundation started by McConaughey called Just Keep Livin.