Michelle Tauber and Elizabeth Leonard
March 04, 2014 08:00 PM

Life for Matthew McConaughey these days is a whole lot better than just “all right” – and he knows it.

“I try to give a lot to my life and the people in it,” the Best Actor Academy Award winner tells PEOPLE in this week’s cover story, “and I know they sure give back. I have a lot to be thankful for.”

After more than two decades in Hollywood, the actor, 44, is embracing his career “McConaissance” – an achievement he says wouldn t be possible without the support of his wife, Camila, 31, and their kids Levi, 5½, Vida, 4, and 15-month-old Livingston.

“My life outside my career is extremely enriching,” he says. “So I am letting that feed my work, and letting my work feed my life.”

McConaughey’s friend Richard Linklater, who cast the then 23-year-old star in his breakout role in 1993 s Dazed and Confused, credits Camila with helping empower her husband.

In Hollywood, “You’ll have people around you who want other things [for you], but she will approach it as, ‘What does Matthew want?’ That’s the direction she pushes him.”

For much more on McConaughey’s journey – and a closer look at his evolution from Texas teen to romantic comedy king to Oscar champ – pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE

RELATED: Matthew McConaughey: I Want to Make My Family Proud

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