The 1st month of January is a time when many people force themselves to go to the gym-pushing themselves beyond their limits in order to obtain a goal of a smaller waistline. These same people adopt a new attitude of extreme self-discipline denying themselves of enjoying any food that doesn't fit into the confines of their narrow list of diet foods. This is the New Year's resolution experience that most people know. However, New Year's resolutions can be a positive rather than a negative experience. This year, try one of these New Year's resolutions to better your life.

1. Read more

Whether you are reading a romance novel or a how-to book, reading can be a great opportunity to expand your knowledge and vocabulary. Rather than spending hours watching Netflix, spend your free time reading and exploring new worlds through the pages of a book.

2. Random acts of kindness

Even something as small as holding the door open for someone can start a chain reaction of kindness. Instead of rushing through your day or grocery trip, look for opportunities to bring light into someone's day.

3. Get along with others

In society, politics seem to be a constant divider that separates friends and family alike. It is time we set aside our differences and work to get along with others.

4. Spend more time with God

New Year's provides a prime opportunity to grow in your relationship with God. No matter how strong I think my faith is, I always try to challenge myself and my faith each New Year's.

5. Get more sleep

Especially as a college student, sleep is quickly becomes less of a priority when you have responsibilities and studying to tend to. However, a proper amount of sleep is a key component to a healthy life.

6. Experiment with new recipes

I love to cook, but I often fall back on sandwiches, frozen pizzas, and Chick-fil-a for a lot of my meals. With the New Year, I intend to start cooking some of the plethora of recipes I have pinned on Pinterest.

7. Learn another language

With today's technology, there are many methods that make learning a new language easier. Even if merely out of curiosity, learning a new language can be a positive life experience.

8. Discover a new hobby

From knitting to tennis, picking up a new hobby can be a low-cost, entertaining, and fulfilling.

9. Travel to new places

Depending on where you go and how you get there, traveling can be inexpensive and teach about cultures in different areas.

10. Volunteer in the community

Find whatever you are passionate about and volunteer to help in that capacity. If you love babies, volunteer to rock babies in the NICU. If you have a heart for the homeless community, find an organization that allows you to serve them. If the thing you are passionate about does not have volunteer opportunities available, start your own mode of volunteering.

11. Nurture your mental health

This generation has become extremely health-conscious. One aspect of health that can often be overlooked is mental health. At the same time, there are many means of caring for one's mental health available. Yoga, journaling, and meditation are just a few of the ways that one can maintain a healthy state of mind.

Instead of seeing New Year's as a time to punish yourself or "whip yourself into shape," use the season of newness as a chance to bring positive change to your life.