Aspen native Ashley Connolly’s book simplifies the complicated life |

Aspen native Ashley Connolly’s book simplifies the complicated life

Aspen native and author Ashley Connolly with her new book, "Life 101: 21 Practical Growth Principals for the 21st Century."
Jeremy Wallace/The Aspen Times |

Well aware of the vast number of self-help books on the market, Aspen native and counselor Ashley Connolly wasn’t deterred when she decided to write her own book offering life tips.

Connolly’s book, “Life 101: 21 Practical Personal Growth Principles for the 21st Century,” is a brisk read rich with self-advice nuggets for millennial readers and older.

“Originally, I thought this is a self-help book for people who don’t like self-help books,” said Connolly, 40.

Connolly’s book is a recipe of academic psychology and pop psychology, peppered with healthy doses of 12-step advice.

An undergraduate of Northwestern University who earned her master’s degree in counseling psychology from Loyola University Chicago, Connolly notes in her book’s 15th principle — “Read, Read, Read!!” — that “I realized that perhaps academic psychology didn’t have all the answers. Consequently, while not abandoning the academic journals, I gave myself the freedom to read whatever I wanted.”

The result is the book’s 21 principles, concisely spelled out in two to four pages each, with simple tips on achieving emotional wellness and self-realization.

“Personal growth should not be complicated,” said Connolly, who was a standout athlete at Aspen High School.

Her favorite and most relatable principle, she said, is the book’s first one: “Thoughts are everything.”

“The message is all the same,” she said. “Pay attention to your thoughts, and choose good ones. Our thoughts create our emotions, and many times our thoughts aren’t true. We have the power to shape our attitudes.”

Connolly, an avid reader of self-help books, kept hers brief for a reason.

“There are so many great, long books out there that don’t get read,” she said. “I want my book to get read.”

Likewise, her quick tips can resonate among many of today’s readers who are accustomed to the sound bite culture of social media.

“It is geared toward the millennial generation who are used to getting their information from Twitter and Facebook,” she said. “It’s especially useful to young adults or anyone who wants to grow personally.”

Connolly is on both of those social-media sites, with @Life101Ashley as her Twitter handle and Ashley Connolly: Life 101 on Facebook.

Connolly lives in Aspen with her husband, Mike, and two boys ages 3 and 5. Finding the time to write the book was challenging, she said, given the ceaseless duties of parenthood and her job as a psychotherapist.

The idea came to her in around 2008 or 2009, when the country was in the throes of the Great Recession. She later connected with Hay House Publishing, leading her to the company’s self-publishing division, Balboa Press.

She worked one to two nights a week at home on her book, which was released in December. It is available on as well as at Carl’s Pharmacy and Explore Booksellers in Aspen. Last month, “Life 101” ranked No. 1 on Explore’s best-selling books.

Connolly said she hopes “Life 101” is the first in a series of books using the same model for life’s challenging endeavors such as parenting, relationships, diet and faith.

“I really think the market is huge for this book,” she said. “I love writing, and I feel passionate about sharing this and making life less complicated.”


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