Interview with Rohit Sodha: Author of “Happiness to The Power of Infinity”

The Bookoholics: Since you have decoded the secret to happiness, are you happy?
Rohit Sodha: Yes, I surely am happier and it is also something that is confirmed by my friends, family and coworkers. My HappIndex score has improved consistently and I know the areas where I need to improve myself further

How long did it take you to write this book?
RS: It took me about 2 years from idea to launch. I identified the major building blocks of the book and penned down an initial storyline. I then conducted research (more than 20000 pages) to be able to gather knowledge about the topic and then synthesized the relevant bits and provided my own perspective. Doing this alongside my corporate job was challenging but I had the support of my family, friends and mentors (all mentioned in the book). Most of my writing happened late at night in the comfort of my study – there were days when I was able to pen tens of pages and there were days where writing a few lines would be difficult. I saw firsthand both the art and science of writing – this was frustrating at times but getting through those tough times makes the reward sweeter.

How did you deal with the self-doubts a writer goes through?
RS: The biggest self-doubt was before I committed myself to the project – I had never written a book and had zero experience. I was fortunate to have support from my Harvard professors who encouraged and guided me to commit myself to the project. Once committed the only way was through – I didn’t doubt myself anymore at all!

What was the most difficult part to write creatively?
RS: The last section of the book where I give actionable practical advice was the most difficult part to write. This section had to be precise and non-preachy – it also had to incorporate all the knowledge from the preceding sections of the book. Readers tell me it is their favorite and most repeatedly read part of the book which gives me a lot of happiness and satisfaction 

How many of the methods that you have suggested in the book were you already following?
RS: Only 1 and not in the form that I mention in the book – LifeJourney. I have been very clear that happiness is unique to each person depending upon who you are so I have been very keen to discover myself over the years before I penned the book. My way of discovering myself was to get psychometric tests done which I can imagine is not accessible to everyone and can be limited in their scope. The frameworks mentioned in my book – LifeJourney, HappSys and HappIndex are fairly simple and very powerful. They quantify what is often an abstract feeling and enable continuous improvement. 

How was the journey from finishing the manuscript to publishing?
RS: This was for me the most difficult part – I realized that these non-core elements to the writing process can often be the difference between a great product and an average one. Again here I was lucky to have the support of specialists – proof readers, graphic designers, publishers and social media team. My advice for new writers would be to try and find competent partners who can support this part of the process for you

Whats the one thing you learnt from all the research that you did for the book?
RS: The fact that happiness is so central to our lives and there is so little written/done about it was for me the real eye opener! It remains largely unquantifiable and most books about it are written at the different ends of the spectrum – one that professes to leave all aspirations and give up worldly belongings to rise above a normal life to attain nirvana or the other extreme which advises readers to attain their personal goals at all costs and that would make them happy. I was sure that there has to be a middle way where people can achieve their lofty goals and still lead balanced lives leading to sustainable happiness.

How did you market your book?
RS: As a first time author my options were fairly limited when I began – I focused on social media and word of mouth of readers. As the book gained traction I started to get invited to events which further led to other opportunities. I still believe that a good quality product gets accepted and liked by the audience who then talk about it and drive the flywheel further

How did your book affect your personal and professional life?
RS: It is a great question! My HappIndex score has improved since ive written the book. People around me see me less stressed with the small things in life and more focused on the bigger things. I also feel I have started to take clearer decisions being able to eliminate the less important variables in the equation. I am also more of myself without inhibitions and this has improved my relations with the people around me. It does not mean that im never unhappy or that everything is rosy in my life but it surely has improved my happiness baseline

Did you ever face the so called writer’s block? How did you deal with it?
RS: One of my mentors had said to me before I had started to write that writing is both an art and science. I underestimated the art part initially and expected to keep a constant pace of writing over a period of time like in a consulting project. Three days in and I realized how big the art element is – our creative brain has a mood of its own and it works when it wants to work. Initially I would be disappointed when I would be up till 5 AM and not be able to write more than 6 lines – it took me time to realize that my brain was giving me messages to reconsider my thought process and that not every hour will be equally productive.

I also realized that the definition of productivity is not the number of pages authored per hour but the amount of information my mind has absorbed which would accelerate my writing on one specific day when my mind is ready with all the inputs it needs. I’ve humbly accepted that there is both a process and a creative spark – you can engineer the process of creating the spark but it is not guaranteed that every spark will light the bright fire you need to write the book. Overall, I look back at the journey with rose tinted glasses and thank everyone around me for their unflinching support which has helped me evolve as a human-being

Did this book change you as a person in any way?
RS: Yes, this process has helped me discover untapped potential in myself as a person and has also expanded my thinking. I am more sure of myself and the choices that I make. I wouldn’t say these changes are drastic changes but valuable enhancements to my core personality

Was writing a childhood dream or did it come to you recently?
RS: Many of my close friends are surprised I authored a book – as a child you would always find me playing sports – writing a book would probably be the last thing you would have expected from me. This is life, we grow, we learn new things, we have different aspirations, life throws at us unique chances and it is for us to take them up. I got mesmerized with the topic of happiness and read 20000+ pages on it, did not find anything suited for people like us who have high aspirations and also want to be happy – so ended up writing a book. Very humbled and proud at how life changes us and if we allow our full potential to be realized what all we can achieve.

How did your family react to your decision of writing a book on happiness? Did you have to convince people?
RS: I did not at first disclose to anyone that I wanted to write a book. Only after I had written the first 50 pages and I was sure that I will be able to see this project through that I shared it with my family. They were both surprised and happy and became my source of support and inspiration. I penned down the title after writing the entire book and the idea came from within my family – I overheard a conversation that my children were having with my parents (their grandparents) where the grandparents were asking their grandkids how much do they love them. My kids responded saying – we love you more than infinity. This is how I discovered my title – HAPPINESS TO THE POWER OF INFINITY. It is also true that the last 10 meters are the toughest in any race and it is true also for the book writing process – this is where their constant support and encouragement came in handy. For me a special moment was in January 2020 when I had my family in the audience at a book event organized by the Harvard Club of India. Both my grandfathers were Doctors and have authored many research papers, I’m honored to be able to dedicate this book to them and their legacy.

You may buy the book here