There is now an increasing body of secular literature on how changing habits can help change character (e.g., The Power of Habit, Atomic Habits) but this is not new to us (see Rambam's Hilchot Deot 1:2 and 1:7). Is there a Jewish codified version of such an approach?

I am specifically asking for books (ideally in English) focused on middot (character traits) improvements, e.g., recording of lectures or some form of handbook? I'm thinking of a system to perfect oneself, one habit or midda at a time.

I know that R Avigdor Miller was running musar vaadim in that direction and at least one book on him describes some of its basic ideas.

Orchot Tzadikim would be an example of a very early book of that type but I am looking for something more contemporary. I know of a number of similar works on prayer and am asking more broadly.


I think Sefer cheshbon hanefesh is what you looking for.

Here is a Wikipedia link.

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You may also like the Sefer Orchos Yosher by Rav Chaim Kanievsky it was translated by Artscroll.

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More non-contemporary works include Messilat Yesharim (I think it's called The Path of the Just in English), Chovot HaLevavot (Duties of the Heart), Sha'arei Teshuvah (Gates of Repentance) and Rabbi Eliyahu Dessler's books, among others.

These classic works are great character builders and I would highly recommend learning them. There may be contemporary works based on these works, too, and classes to study them well. I believe there's a book of Rabbi Avigdor Miller's lessons on Duties of the Heart.

I think there's a contemporary book called נתיבות המשפט or something like that which I have heard is good.

I think Rabbi Pincus of blessed memory also wrote good books (or they were written from recordings of his lectures following his tragic death).

There are plenty of (Jewish) contemporary books in English, some on specific topics. These include books such as Guard Your Tongue, Love Thy Neighbour, The Gift of Speech and others. There's a big book on anger, but I don't remember what it is called.

There's a series of small square books, whose names and author I do not remember, on various issues.

A secular book I highly recommend is The Feeling Good Handbook (and various associated books).


You may also want to see:

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