Ben Higgins signs a copy of his book “Alone In Plain Sight” after Combined Community Services’ Love Thy Neighbor luncheon Wednesday at Christ Covenant Church, Winona Lake. Photo by David Slone, Times-Union.
Ben Higgins signs a copy of his book “Alone In Plain Sight” after Combined Community Services’ Love Thy Neighbor luncheon Wednesday at Christ Covenant Church, Winona Lake. Photo by David Slone, Times-Union.
February 2 marked the one-year anniversary of the release of Ben Higgins’ book “Alone In Plain Sight” that touches heavily on the issue of loneliness.

After speaking Wednesday at Combined Community Services’ Love Thy Neighbor luncheon fundraiser, the star of the 20th season of “The Bachelor” sat down with local media for a little over 20 minutes to answer some questions, including what life has been like since putting his book out into the world.

“I just talked to a buddy yesterday who just came out with a book, and I preface this to give you some context,” Higgins said. “Writing a book is odd because you work so hard on something, and then all of a sudden you release it to the world and the responses aren’t immediate like a lot of the things we get to do in life. Some people never respond. Some people never tell you if they liked it or hated it, you just kind of release it out there and that was hard.”

Another aspect of releasing the book was that in it, he talks about his pain killer addiction, which he hadn’t really spoken publicly about before.

“But I felt like this was time and I felt very ready for it. What I wasn’t ready for was the criticism. It was really interesting. Some of the responses were, ‘Who wasn’t?’ Like when an article would come out and say I suffered from addiction, somebody would say, ‘Who wasn’t?’ Many people would comment, ‘Oh, is that really that big of a deal?’ Of course, it is. It almost took my life and it’s taken many lives,” Higgins recalled.

He said he wasn’t ready for those kind of comments.

“Now here is the reverse side of this: It also is incredible because now I get to enter these conversations with people because I opened up about some of my insecurities and some of the ways I struggled mentally or some of the ways I struggled physically or with addiction. Now I get to enter those stories and talk with people, not from a place of judgment or criticism but from a place of, ‘OK, this is where we’re at,’ or ‘This is what we’ve been through,’ now how do we get moving forward? How do we take the next best step? And for me, that’s been really special,” Higgins said.

Along with his reality television past and his first book, Higgins now has two podcasts, owns restaurants in Colorado and is a part of Generous Coffee, which invests 100% of its profits from coffee and apparel into nonprofit partner organizations.

Despite his generosity in giving back to and helping others, and his speaking ability that had those at Wednesday’s luncheon paying close attention, he jokes that he doesn’t have any attainable skill sets and he got his 15 minutes of fame simply because he was chosen for a reality television show.

“For a bit that’s really fun. Over time, reality sets in and you realize that, ‘Hey, I’m not the greatest thing that ever walked this earth. I’m not the coolest thing out there.’ So then you have to start to come to terms with who are you. If you take away the fame, if you take away the celebrity, if you take away the attention, what’s left of me? And the only thing that ever satisfied - and I mean this for me - was sitting in the pains of myself and others, like working through injustices of this world,” Higgins said.

He said the most fun he has is when he’s doing good with the platform he has.

“It’s my job, it’s my career, it’s the thing that brings me joy. It’s also the thing I believe I’ve been called to. To me, I just got lucky and was called to something that the world would see as beneficial and for that I’m pretty happy about it,” Higgins said.

Is a second book in his future? He said he’d love to write one.

“I will write another book, even if it doesn’t get published. I’d like for it to get published, that’s a cherry on top of the process of writing a book,” he said.

Generous has just opened up in Warsaw, Higgins reported, having moved its roasting facility from his garage in Denver, Colo., to a roastery in Fort Wayne and now everything to downtown Warsaw at 123 S. Buffalo St. Packaging and roasting are taken place in there. Tyler Silveus is running Generous and Higgins is the spokesperson. Higgins said it’s an “amazing” building with a “ton” of possibilities.

“And I’m very excited about that. That is a focus of mine. That is something that is, as I move on to the next 20 years of my life, that I hope is steadfast,” he said. “The podcasts are going well. I want them to continue. Hope Still Wins is a passion project for me. ... It’s kind of this really quiet podcast that just gets to interview incredible people and talk about this kind of stuff, like leaders of this world and ask them where are your biggest pains, where are your biggest struggles, and hopefully make them more relatable to the audience.”

He also has the Almost Famous podcast, which is a pop culture podcast.

“So I have this weird bucket of life where I have coffee, that 100% of the profits are given back to nonprofits; I have Hope Still Wins podcast where I interview leaders and ask them about their biggest pains and struggles; and then I have a pop culture podcast,” he said.

What’s next for Higgins?

“I hope it’s Generous. We moved it to Warsaw for a reason because I want it to have roots and to grow and I believe this community will support it. I believe it’s the place to start from,” Higgins said.

Having just got married in November, he said his wife, Jessica, is “insanely” supportive.

“In fact, last night we just had a conversation. I was going to go host this show and it just didn’t feel right to me and I said no to it. I texted her, ‘Hey, I said no to it just to let you know.’ She called me right away and said, ‘Why did you say no to it?’”

He told her it didn’t feel right and he was tired of being gone as he travels a lot and he’s away from her a lot.

“First time in my life that I’ve ever felt like, ‘Hey, I want to be in this place with this person.’ And I’m tired of being gone,” Higgins said. “She said right away to me, ‘I hope you didn’t do this because you think you shouldn’t because I want to see you thrive.’ I said, ‘No, that’s not at all what I thought. I think I’m going to thrive because I want to stay back home.’ So, yes, she’s very supportive.”

As for his dreams, it’s for Generous to thrive in Warsaw.

“I believe that this idea of a for-profit company donating 100% of the profits makes no sense. And there’s a reason for that, because I want to be out there advocating and educating people on the benefits of for-profit business. I want people to see capitalism as this utility and this tool to do some great stuff in the world. So I really want to see this community support it and lift it up and spread it out across the world. That would bring me a great joy,” he said.

For now, he and Jessica are keeping their home in Denver, Colo., where there’s “great winters. You can read into that as much as you want.”

Humane Hope United Foundation, a nonprofit that Higgins has been on the board of for 11 years, was all founded by Warsaw people with some of the board members still living in the area.

“It’s weird. I haven’t lived in Warsaw full time in eight years. ... I still feel very much a part of this community. I don’t feel separated from it. I don’t feel pushed aside from it. I still feel very active in it, and if anybody from Warsaw ever asked anything of me, I would say yes if I could because this is still home. I don’t want it ever to not be home. Again, I don’t live here because the Denver winters are really nice,” Higgins said.