How Matthew McConaughey's Gratitude Won Him an Oscar

Matthew McConaughey has a lot to be thankful for after taking home his first Oscar last night as best leading actor for "Dallas Buyers Club."

The actor and father of three says that, for him, however, being thankful is a way of life, not just something he pays attention to during awards season.

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"I just find that the more I wake up and find things to be appreciative about, they do reciprocate somehow," McConaughey, 44, told ABC News' Josh Elliott backstage at the Oscars. "Gratitude is a scientific fact."

"It fills me up to be thankful for things and I have a lot to be thankful for, always starting with just the fact that you get another day," he said. "We take that for granted."

In his Oscar acceptance speech, McConaughey thanked his late father who he said was celebrating in heaven with "a big pot of gumbo and a can of Miller Lite," and also his mother, Mary Kathlene McCabe, whom he brought to the Academy Awards along with his wife, Camila Alves.

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Offstage, McConaughey gave credit to his mom for instilling a sense of gratitude in him and his brothers at a young age.

"When we were raised, [when] we got out of bed in the morning, we'd come out for breakfast in the morning and be in a crappy mood," McConaughey recalled. "She'd just grab us and run us back to the bed and throw us back in and say, 'Don't you come back to my breakfast table where I cooked you breakfast and see the dust on the table instead of the rose in the vase, buddy.'"

"And then if we had other gripes, she'd say, 'You sound like the kid griping about new shoes. You want to go meet the kid with no feet?,'" he said. "These jarring sort of realities that she reminded us of."

McConaughey has said previously that the awards season wins for "Dallas Buyers Club" - which also included an Oscar for Jared Leto - were made especially sweeter because the film was an underdog, having been declined 137 times before it was finally made into a film.

Oscars 2014: Full List of Winners

The actor, who lost more than 40 pounds to play lead character Ron Woodroof, said being thankful in life has kept him going strong in Hollywood.

"I know you don't always get what you want but you end up getting what you need," McConaughey said. "And then I just find that the more I wake up and find things to be appreciative about, they do reciprocate somehow."

"Whatever you're doing, just lay down and go, 'Hey I'm going to enjoy what I'm doing right now. I'm going to be thankful for what I got now, the ability,'" he said.

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