4 Ways Matthew McConaughey Breeds Self-Awareness On A Daily Basis
A sense of self-awareness is, by no means, automatic. Just ask Matthew McConaughey: On this episode of the mindbodygreen podcast, we discuss how tapping into your own intuition takes work—and while it may be easier for some than others, it certainly doesn't come naturally. Make no mistake: Your sense of self-awareness is a muscle, and you need to target it in order to help it grow.
That's why the Academy Award–winning actor, producer, and author of the No. 1 New York Times bestselling Greenlights actually makes it a habit to foster self-awareness every single day. Why? Well, those slow moments of introspection (he dubs them "yellow lights") are crucial: "Interruptions, moments of introspection, while we don't usually want those, we usually find out we need those," he tells me. Learning to navigate those "yellow lights" can ultimately help you determine what's most important in life and what steps you need to take to achieve those goals—the definition of true success, if you will.
All that to say, embracing a sense of self-awareness is key. Here, McConaughey shares four ways he practices it every day:
He keeps himself accountable by writing.
Of course, we'd be remiss not to mention his raw, introspective journal entries (peppered throughout his new book). But in addition to those diaries, "I love making lists," McConaughey says. Not just to keep himself organized throughout the workweek (although, that's another perk) but also to hold himself accountable to what's important in life, to reel him back from "autopilot," as he says. "I put little, fun things on there. Like, 'kiss your wife at lunchtime.'"
In other words, he quite literally carves out time for intuition. From meditation to prayer, he blocks off time on his schedule to flex those self-awareness muscles. "I'm happiest when I noticed that the weekly calendar has been laid out so great," he adds.
He leans on faith.
Speaking of prayer, McConaughey is also quite spiritual—connecting to a higher power helps him reflect. "I like church. That's where I get my time to think about me, and my life, and my loved ones around it," he says. He doesn't attend every single day, but he likens the weekly ritual to a reset, whenever he needs to "go recharge and do some inventory."
Of course, the path to spirituality looks different for everyone—for McConaughey, it's church and religion; for you it could be nature or some other sense of trust in a higher power. Simply leaning on that connection can help you stay grounded (a sense of spirituality even has mental health benefits, too).
He does a morning check-in.
"I try to take some time with myself in the morning, check in with myself before I check in with the world," he explains. He doesn't check the news, social media, emails, or engage in any other distractions before taking a moment to truly sit with himself. "It's valuable to check in with yourself personally, quietly, even if it's five or 10 minutes before you walk out the door and go greet the day," McConaughey adds.
He puts it all into perspective.
Sometimes, you need a visual reminder to see the bigger picture. Here's McConaughey's trick for when he's having an especially hard day: He pulls up Google Earth, zooms out into the galaxy, and takes a few moments to reflect on how enormous the universe is compared to himself. "[I'm] a little speck on this revolving planet and this little increment of time," he notes.
Of course, that doesn't mean your grievances don't matter. Whatever emotions you feel are valid and valuable, and you shouldn't minimize them! However, this sense of perspective can help you realize what's most important in the grand scheme of life—and how you should move forward. Take it from McConaughey: "[It] just lightens my shoulders."
Fostering self-awareness doesn't have to feel like a colossal undertaking. In McConaughey's experience, it's those smaller, everyday moments that are usually the most profound. And just like any other skill, self-awareness takes practice; consciously incorporating it into your daily life, as McConaughey does, can make it easier to traverse those "yellow lights" in the long run.