BEN HIGGINS TALKS COFFEE, HOPE & HUMANITY, AND WHAT IT MEANS TO BE THANKFUL
Article by Mindy Hargesheimer
Photography by Ben Higgins
Probably best known for being lead #20 in The Bachelor, there is so much more to Ben Higgins than being one of America’s reality TV sweethearts, such as his deep passion for making moves to “multiply good in the world.”
Since his time on The Bachelor, Ben has taken the opportunity to use his fame to create not one, but two inspiring podcasts, publish a successful autobiography, while also elevating awareness of his “for-purpose” Generous Coffee brand. We sat down with him (virtually) to reflect on all that he has accomplished in this season of “thankfulness.”
CL: What does the term ‘thankful’ or ‘grateful’ mean to you?
BH: It may sound corny and cliche, but when I think of gratitude, it’s an every day break to look at where my life sits and to be thankful for the friends and family around me and the things that I am able to be a part of. There are moments in my life where I become ungrateful, and so when I think of being grateful, I think of it as being in a rhythm where I remind myself every day that I still have ‘breath.’
CL: Are there things you do, or mantras you live by on a daily basis?
BH: I don’t wake up going “today is going to be a good day.” I’ve found that some of the worst days have taught me the most. They’ve built grit, character, resolve, and a story that will not only help me, but allow me to be more empathetic and loving.
I did a speaking tour 4 years ago for high school students. At one moment during a speech I got emotional speaking about purpose and hope and trying to build in them the idea that because they have breath, they have value. All of a sudden it was like this reeI of my life went through my head where these little, small moments led me to that point in time to speak with this group. For example, one random person invited me to move to Denver where I got a job; one person at that job told me I should go on a show; I went on a show that turned into the ability to create Generous Coffee; and Generous has parlayed me with these new opportunities.
I try to sit in those moments daily and remember the things that got me here, what I’ve learned along the way that I can celebrate, and what keeps me thankful.
CL: Tell us about what you are most proud of or inspired by?
BH: I’m proud that my podcast Hope Still Wins and my book Alone in Plain Sight both play a part in getting resources for help to those who need it. Writing Alone in Plain Sight was a good cry for my soul. As much as I am thankful that other people are reading it, it was something I knew I needed to get off my chest regardless.
At the same time, I am not oblivious to the fact that from the outside looking in you could look at my life and assume “he doesn’t even know what struggle is, he doesn’t know what pain is.” So, one of the ways I love to connect with others when they doubt my sincerity is to connect them with stories of other people that I’ve been able to be a part of. For example, in my book I highlighted a girl named Annie who was 23 and had two weeks to live — she was dying from cystic fibrosis when I interviewed her. I got to talk to her about the end of life and what that means, and what messages she would share.
I’m often asked, ‘what is this whole thing about for you, what is your mission in all of this?’ Selfishly, I just want to be a part of really cool stories that I believe are good and healing. And my filter on whether they are good or not comes from my faith. I just want to be a part of stories of loving others and loving God well, and that’s not always going to be about me personally or the life I am living.
CL: Do you think about the legacy you want to leave behind?
BH: I want to be known as someone who gave more than I took, as someone who cared deeply for those around me and that loved others and God well.One thing that’s helped me recently is thinking about how I got thrust into a life where people recognize me and pay attention to me. I started asking myself, “where do I want this to go? How famous do I want to try to be?” Through contemplation I realized 100 to 200 years ago if you told us to name the top 10 most famous people from that time, we would have a hard time doing it. People come and go and that’s sad, but it’s also beautiful because something new arises and something new comes up.
So, as much as I want my legacy to be important and to be remembered, I’m not naive enough to believe it will be, and that gives me peace and keeps me focused on the present. If I could choose the memories of my kids, grandkids, friends and family, it would be to remember that Ben lived a life where he loved others really, really well and he sacrificed a lot to do that.
CL: How did Generous Coffee begin?
BH: The idea came in July of 2017 and we launched in January of 2018. Even further back, though, when I was 15 years old I went to Central America; our hearts were broken and eyes were opened to the lack of strategy behind mission and non-profit work. People were stepping on each other’s toes, coming and going and leaving villages behind, and there was no relationship or respect.
So, my buddy who was also on that trip started a non-profit called Humanity & Hope United Foundation. The idea is that we can ask people within these communities, what do you need? What do you want? What do you dream of, and how can we help? The goal was a partnership for perpetuity — to help them increase their education programs, their healthcare, but be led by them.
When the show [The Bachelor] happened, our fundraising increased 500% within a year and that was awesome, but we also knew that it probably wasn’t going to last. So, during that time we asked ourselves how we can make funding this non-profit more sustainable, and we came up with the idea that we could start a for-profit business and call ourselves “for-purpose.”The founders were financially-able enough to sign off on donating 100% of our profits to non-profits, now that we had the platform to do it.
Plus, we believe that people enjoy drinking life-changing coffee that has a story behind it over their regular cup of coffee.
CL: What are your recommendations for people to give back in their community?
At Generous we have always enjoyed investing in fighting human-facing injustice, and we do that because that was the thing that angered us the most.
I think everybody can figure out what they can do in their local communities by asking the same question: What is it around me that makes me the angriest? Maybe it’s people without homes — maybe your heart breaks for them — maybe it’s animals or the environment for you. What emotional pull is it? Go after that.
If one person is positively affected by the Generous coffee we are selling, then it’s all been worth it. I’d say the same thing to everyone in their local communities; if one person or thing has benefited from your efforts and activity, it’s worth it. Get out there and just start.
People matter and have value. There’s a purpose for the life we are living and when people get out and care for others well the world is a better place. Stay curious; look left and right at the needs around you and use your impact to be a community maker. That’s the message I’d like to share.
Plus, you can do that sitting on your couch drinking a great cup of Generous Coffee.
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