World Bank Photo Collection, Flickr
As a world-renowned primatologist and the undisputed expert on chimpanzees, Dr. Jane Goodall has dedicated her entire life to making the world a better place.
Since the 1960s, she has been a trailblazer in her field, best known for studying the social dynamics of wild chimpanzees at Gombe Stream National Park in Tanzania, where she spent more than 55 years observing and forming a bond with the Kasakela chimpanzee community. In 1977, she founded the Jane Goodall Institute, which aims “to mobilize the collective power of individual action” to make a difference in our planet’s wellbeing; and in 1991, Roots & Shoots, a global youth service program that hopes to empower young people around the world by fostering a love and respect for nature. She’s a diehard animal rights activist, conservationist, and UN Messenger for Peace. And that doesn’t even begin to skim the surface of her many accomplishments.
In 2004, Queen Elizabeth II named Goodall a Dame of the British Empire. In 2014, she was awarded the President’s Medal from the British Academy. She has countless honorary doctorates, just launched a Master Class on conservation, and has a documentary all about her life and work on the way. She’s also excellent at throwing shade, once comparing Donald Trump’s behavior to that of a male chimpanzee trying to exhibit dominance over his rivals.
“In many ways the performances of Donald Trump remind me of male chimpanzees and their dominance rituals,” she told The Atlantic during the 2016 election. “In order to impress rivals, males seeking to rise in the dominance hierarchy perform spectacular displays: stamping, slapping the ground, dragging branches, throwing rocks. The more vigorous and imaginative the display, the faster the individual is likely to rise in the hierarchy, and the longer he is likely to maintain that position.”
So how does she manage to do it all? Here are a few tips from the primatologist herself.
1. She goes for a walk
“People always say, ‘Do you meditate?’ No, I don’t meditate — at least not officially. I probably do, sort of, in my own way. But that’s usually if I get a few minutes out in nature, which I do sometimes. I go for walks when I can. Occasionally, I get a few days at home in England, at the house I grew up in, where my sister actually lives. We’ve got a dog or two, and I always go for a walk when I’m at home.”
2. She listens to audio books
“In order to quiet my brain so I can sleep, I put on an audio book. It needs to be one I’ve heard many times, so I don’t actually have to listen except to know words. I just recently went through, many times, some of Charles Dickens’ books, which are always good. And then I’ve got some Agatha Christie, Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple. Things like that. Nothing serious, because then I wouldn’t sleep.”
3. She takes a shot of whiskey before bed
“I have a little toss of whiskey every night. That’s very important. I used to have that ritual with my mother.”
4. She only takes antibiotics when she really needs them
“I have good genes. I’m just very healthy, that’s incredibly lucky. So usually I can go through places, areas where people have got flu, or something like that, and I manage to avoid it. Probably because almost never have I taken antibiotics, and so my body has built up a good immune system. When we were children in the war, there was none of this, ‘Oh it fell on the floor, we mustn’t eat it.’ And that sort of thing — none of the sort of modern panic about dirt. We just grew up as kids mucking about in the garden and cliffs and animals and things like that. So I do think building up a strong immune system when I was a child was important [to my self care today].
5. She stays present
“I really don’t do anything except live for the moment and not worry too much about the future, and tackle the problems as they come along.”
As a bonus, Goodall also shared with us the one thing that makes her feel most empowered, whether it be an item of clothing or a particular memory. Unsurprisingly, she returned to her roots.
“There’s quite a lot of different things [that make me feel empowered],” she says. “I’ve had many amazing moments, but if I can choose where to be, which gives me the best peace of mind and everything, it’s by myself out in nature, preferably in a forest. That’s what feeds my spirit, and I do believe in a great spiritual power, and I do believe I get strength from that.”
“I get to Gombe [in Tanzania] twice a year, just for a couple of days, but I always insist on having one day by myself in the forest,” she continued. “And then every spring, I go with the photographer Tom Mangelsen and a little group to see the sandhill crane migration in Nebraska. That’s another spiritual event. And then in between, I try to get out and see a bit of nature if I go to a new country. Even if it’s just brief, it’s a new experience.”
This article first appeared on Shondaland.