124+ Best Leo Tolstoy Quotes: Exclusive Selection

Count Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy, usually referred to in English as Leo Tolstoy, was a Russian writer who is regarded as one of the greatest authors of all time. Profoundly inspirational Leo Tolstoy quotes will challenge the way you think, and help guide you through any life experience.

If you’re searching for inspiring quotes from great authors that perfectly capture what you’d like to say or just want to feel inspired yourself, browse through an amazing collection of quotes by Lewis Carroll, best Neil Gaiman quotes and greatest Nicholas Sparks quotes.

Famous Leo Tolstoy Quotes

A man is like a fraction whose numerator is what he is and whose denominator is what he thinks of himself. The larger the denominator, the smaller the fraction. – Leo Tolstoy

A man on a thousand-mile walk has to forget his goal and say to himself every morning, ‘Today I’m going to cover twenty-five miles and then rest up and sleep. – Leo Tolstoy

Am I mad, to see what others do not see, or are they mad who are responsible for all that I am seeing? – Leo Tolstoy

Be bad, but at least don’t be a liar, a deceiver! – Leo Tolstoy

Each person’s task in life is to become an increasingly better person. – Leo Tolstoy

Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. – Leo Tolstoy

Every revolution by force only puts more violent means of enslavement into the hands of the persons in power. – Leo Tolstoy

Government is violence, Christianity is meekness, non-resistance, love. And, therefore, government cannot be Christian, and a man who wishes to be a Christian must not serve government. – Leo Tolstoy

All men’s instincts, all their impulses in life, are efforts to increase their freedom. Wealth and poverty, health and disease, culture and ignorance, labor and leisure, repletion and hunger, virtue and vice, are all terms for greater or less degree of freedom. – Leo Tolstoy

People try to do all sorts of clever and difficult things to improve life instead of doing the simplest, easiest thing-refusing to participate in activities that make life bad. – Leo Tolstoy

If you make it a habit not to blame others, you will feel the growth of the ability to love in your soul, and you will see the growth of goodness in your life. – Leo Tolstoy

The idea, shared by many, that life is a vale of tears, is just as false as the idea shared by the great majority, the idea to which youth and health and riches incline you, that life is a place of entertainment. Life is a place of service, and in that service one has to suffer a great deal that is hard to bear, but more often to experience a great deal of joy. But that joy can be real only if people look upon their life as a service and have a definite object in life outside themselves and their personal happiness. – Leo Tolstoy

Everything depends on upbringing. – Leo Tolstoy

I must write each day without fail, not so much for the success of the work, as in order not to get out of my routine. – Leo Tolstoy

If, then, I were asked for the most important advice I could give, that which I considered to be the most useful to the men of our century, I should simply say: in the name of God, stop a moment, cease your work, look around you. – Leo Tolstoy

Faith is the force of life. – Leo Tolstoy

Even in the valley of the shadow of death, two and two do not make six. – Leo Tolstoy

The goal of our life should not be to find joy in marriage, but to bring more love and truth into the world. We marry to assist each other in this task. The most selfish and hateful life of all is that of two beings who unite in order to enjoy life. The highest calling is that of the man who has dedicated his life to serving God and doing good, and who unites with a woman in order to further that purpose. – Leo Tolstoy

The key to success in life is using the good thoughts of wise people. – Leo Tolstoy

To say that you can love one person all your life is just like saying that one candle will continue burning as long as you live. – Leo Tolstoy

I have discovered nothing new; I have only perceived what I already knew. – Leo Tolstoy

We lost because we told ourselves we lost. – Leo Tolstoy

To regard Christ as God, and to pray to him, are to my mind the greatest possible sacrilege. – Leo Tolstoy

For if we allow that human life is always guided by reason, we destroy the premise that life is possible at all. – Leo Tolstoy

Happiness is an allegory, unhappiness a story. – Leo Tolstoy

There is nothing more harmful to you than improving only your material, animal side of life. There is nothing more beneficial, both for you and for others, than activity directed to the improvement of your soul. – Leo Tolstoy

People involve themselves in countless activities which they consider to be important, but they forget about one activity which is more important and necessary than any other, and which includes all other things: the improvement of their soul – Leo Tolstoy

The more he did nothing, the less time he had to do anything. – Leo Tolstoy

Death is more certain than the morrow, than night following day, than winter following summer. Why is it then that we prepare for the night and for the wintertime, but do not prepare for death. We must prepare for death. But there is only one way to prepare for death – and that is to live well. – Leo Tolstoy

I have to create a circle of reading for myself: Epictetus, Marcus Aurelius, Lao-Tzu, Buddha, Pascal, The New Testament. This is also necessary for all people. – Leo Tolstoy

Men pray to the Almighty to relieve poverty. But poverty comes not from God’s laws-it is blasphemy of the worst kind to say that. Poverty comes from man’s injustice to his fellow man. – Leo Tolstoy

Science is meaningless because it gives no answer to our question, the only question important for us: ‘What shall we do and how shall we live?’ – Leo Tolstoy

Life is everything. Life is God. Everything shifts and moves, and this movement is God. And while there is life, there is delight in the self-awareness of the divinity. To love life is to love God. The hardest and most blissful thing is to love this life in one’s suffering, in the guiltlessness of suffering. – Leo Tolstoy

Art is a human activity consisting in this, that one man consciously, by means of certain external signs, hands on to others feelings he has lived through, and that other people are infected by these feelings, and also experience them. – Leo Tolstoy

Just as one candle lights another and can light thousands of other candles, so one heart illuminates another heart and can illuminate thousands of other hearts. – Leo Tolstoy

The only absolute knowledge attainable by man is that life is meaningless. – Leo Tolstoy

The truth is that the State is a conspiracy designed not only to exploit, but above all to corrupt its citizens… Henceforth, I shall never serve any government anywhere. – Leo Tolstoy

If you want to be happy, be. – Leo Tolstoy

The only significance of life consists in helping to establish the kingdom of God. – Leo Tolstoy

Once we’re thrown off our habitual paths, we think all is lost, but it’s only here that the new and the good begins. – Leo Tolstoy

The great tragedy of atheists is that they walk through this world and have no one to thank. – Leo Tolstoy

The more we live by our intellect, the less we understand the meaning of life. – Leo Tolstoy

Every lie is a poison; there are no harmless lies. Only the truth is safe. Only the truth gives me consolation – it is the one unbreakable diamond. – Leo Tolstoy

Every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. – Leo Tolstoy

Freethinkers are those who are willing to use their minds without prejudice and without fearing to understand things that clash with their own customs, privileges, or beliefs. This state of mind is not common, but it is essential for right thinking. – Leo Tolstoy

All great literature is one of two stories; a man goes on a journey or a stranger comes to town. – Leo Tolstoy

But Christ could certainly not have established the Church. That is, the institution we now call by that name, for nothing resembling our present conception of the Church-with its sacraments, its hierarchy, and especially its claim to infallibility-is to be found in Christ’s words or in the conception of the men of his time. – Leo Tolstoy

If a man does not work at necessary and good things, then he will work at unnecessary and stupid things – Leo Tolstoy

War is so unjust and ugly that all who wage it must try to stifle the voice of conscience within themselves. – Leo Tolstoy

Only people who are capable of loving strongly can also suffer great sorrow, but this same necessity of loving serves to counteract their grief and heals them. – Leo Tolstoy

Happiness consists of living each day as if it were the first day of your honeymoon and the last day of your vacation. – Leo Tolstoy

The most important knowledge is that which guides the way you lead your life. – Leo Tolstoy

Life could be limitless joy, if we would only take it for what it is, in the way it is given to us. – Leo Tolstoy

Real wisdom is not the knowledge of everything, but the knowledge of which things in life are necessary, which are less necessary, and which are completely unnecessary to know. – Leo Tolstoy

Under the influence of music, it seems that I feel what I do not really feel, that I understand what I do not understand, that I do what I cannot do. – Leo Tolstoy

The recognition of the sanctity of the life of every man is the first and only basis of all morality. – Leo Tolstoy

People jump back and forth in pursuit of pleasures only because they see the emptiness of their lives more clearly than they do the emptiness of whichever new entertainment attracts them. – Leo Tolstoy

Hypocrisy in anything whatever may deceive the cleverest and most penetrating man, but the least wide-awake of children recognizes it, and is revolted by it, however ingeniously it may be disguised. – Leo Tolstoy

The more is given the less the people will work for themselves, and the less they work the more their poverty will increase. – Leo Tolstoy

Love is life. All, everything that I understand, I understand only because I love. Everything is, everything exists, only because I love. Everything is united by it alone. Love is God, and to die means that I, a particle of love, shall return to the general and eternal source. – Leo Tolstoy

In difficult circumstances always act on first impressions. – Leo Tolstoy

When you love someone, you love the person as they are, and not as you’d like them to be. – Leo Tolstoy

There are as many loves as there are hearts. – Leo Tolstoy

The only purpose of education is freedom; the only method is experience. – Leo Tolstoy

Life consists in penetrating the unknown and fashioning our actions in accord with the new knowledge thus acquired. – Leo Tolstoy

The most mentally deranged people are certainly those who see in others indications of insanity they do not notice in themselves. – Leo Tolstoy

Everything comes in time to him who knows how to wait. – Leo Tolstoy

Why does man have reason if he can only be influenced by violence? – Leo Tolstoy

Every heart has its own skeletons. – Leo Tolstoy

If everyone fought for their own convictions, there would be no war. – Leo Tolstoy

Where there is a man who does not labor because another is compelled to work for him, there slavery is. – Leo Tolstoy

Anything is better than lies and deceit! – Leo Tolstoy

Art lifts man from his personal life into the universal life. – Leo Tolstoy

To get rid of an enemy one must love him. – Leo Tolstoy

Each time of life has its own kind of love. – Leo Tolstoy

If goodness has causes, it is not goodness; if it has effects, a reward, it is not goodness either. So, goodness is outside the chain of cause and effect. – Leo Tolstoy

The Anarchists are right in everything; in the negation of the existing order, and in the assertion that, without authority, there could not be worse violence than that of authority under existing conditions. They are mistaken only in thinking that Anarchy can be instituted by a revolution. To establish Anarchy. Anarchy will be instituted. But it will be instituted only by there being more and more people who do not require protection from governmental power, and by there being more and more people who will be ashamed of applying this power. – Leo Tolstoy

If you no longer believe in the God in whom you believed in before, this comes from the fact that there was something wrong with your belief, and you must strive to understand better that which you call God. – Leo Tolstoy

If you’re not enjoying your work, you should either change your attitude, or change your job. – Leo Tolstoy

If you look for perfection, you’ll never be content. – Leo Tolstoy

Wrong does not cease to be wrong because the majority share in it. – Leo Tolstoy

A quiet secluded life in the country, with the possibility of being useful to people to whom it is easy to do good, and who are not accustomed to have it done to them; then work which one hopes may be of some use; then rest, nature, books, music, love for one’s neighbor — such is my idea of happiness. – Leo Tolstoy

If you want to be happy, try only to please God, not people. – Leo Tolstoy

Women are the pivot round which the world turns. – Leo Tolstoy

I have found that a story leaves a deeper impression when it is impossible to tell which side the author is on. – Leo Tolstoy

The two most powerful warriors are patience and time. – Leo Tolstoy

Memento mori – remember death! These are important words. If we kept in mind that we will soon inevitably die, our lives would be completely different. If a person knows that he will die in a half hour, he certainly will not bother doing trivial, stupid, or, especially, bad things during this half hour. Perhaps you have half a century before you die-what makes this any different from a half hour? – Leo Tolstoy

The most difficult subjects can be explained to the most slow- witted man if he has not formed any idea of them already; but the simplest thing cannot be made clear to the most intelligent man if he is firmly persuaded that he knows already, without a shadow of doubt, what is laid before him. – Leo Tolstoy

Energy is based on love. – Leo Tolstoy

Patience is waiting. Not passively waiting. That is laziness. But to keep going when the going is hard and slow – that is patience. The two most powerful warriors are patience and time. – Leo Tolstoy

To tell the truth is very difficult, and young people are rarely capable of it. – Leo Tolstoy

Governments not only are not necessary but are harmful and most highly immoral institutions. – Leo Tolstoy

All the true heroes of history will be forgotten, and all the villains will be remembered as heroes. – Leo Tolstoy

Suddenly I heard the words of Christ and understood them, and life and death ceased to seem to me evil, and instead of despair I experienced happiness and the joy of life undisturbed by death. – Leo Tolstoy

Our whole life is taken up with anxiety for personal security, with preparations for living, so that we really never live at all. – Leo Tolstoy

It seems that it is impossible to live without discovering the purpose of your life. And the first thing which a person should do is to understand the meaning of life. But the majority of people who consider themselves to be educated are proud that they have reached such great height that they cease to care about the meaning of existence. – Leo Tolstoy

To abolish war, it is necessary to abolish patriotism, and to abolish patriotism it is necessary first to understand that it is an evil. Tell people that patriotism is bad, and most will reply, ‘Yes, bad patriotism is bad, but mine is good patriotism.’ – Leo Tolstoy

I imagine, joking apart, that to know love, one must make mistakes and then correct them. – Leo Tolstoy

Grow spiritually and help others to do so. It is the meaning of life. – Leo Tolstoy

Death destroys the body, as the scaffolding is destroyed after the building is up and finished. And he whose building is up rejoices at the destruction of the scaffolding and of the body. – Leo Tolstoy

Government is an association of men who do violence to the rest of us. – Leo Tolstoy

Patriotism in its simplest, clearest, and most indubitable meaning is nothing but an instrument for the attainment of the government’s ambitious and mercenary aims, and a renunciation of human dignity, common sense, and conscience by the governed, and a slavish submission to those who hold power. That is what is really preached wherever patriotism is championed. Patriotism is slavery. – Leo Tolstoy

Money is a new form of slavery, and distinguishable from the old simply by the fact that it is impersonal – that there is no human relation between master and slave. – Leo Tolstoy

Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself. – Leo Tolstoy

All the variety, all the charm, all the beauty of life is made up of light and shadow. – Leo Tolstoy

Read less, study less, but think more – Leo Tolstoy

Life is fragile and absurd. – Leo Tolstoy

A Russian should rejoice if Poland, the Baltic Provinces, Finland, Armenia, should be separated, freed from Russia; so with an Englishman in regard to Ireland, India and other possessions; and each should help to do this, because the greater the state, the more wrong and cruel is its patriotism, and the greater is the sum of suffering upon which its power is founded. Therefore, if we really wish to be what we profess to be, we must not only cease our present desire for the growth of the state, but we must desire its decrease, its weakening, and help this forward with all our might. – Leo Tolstoy

I looked more widely around me, I studied the lives of the masses of humanity, and I saw that, not two or three, or ten, but hundreds, thousands, millions, had so understood the meaning of life that they were able both to live and to die. All these people were well acquainted with the meaning of life and death, quietly labored, endured privation and suffering, lived and died, and saw in all this, not a vain, but a good thing. – Leo Tolstoy

It is easier to produce ten volumes of philosophical writings than to put one principle into practice. – Leo Tolstoy

Just imagine that the purpose of life is happiness only- then life becomes a cruel and senseless thing. You have to embrace what the wisdom of humanity, your intellect and your heart tell you: that the meaning of life is to serve the force that sent you into the world. Then life becomes a joy – Leo Tolstoy

I believe that order is better than chaos, creation better than destruction. I prefer gentleness to violence, forgiveness to vendetta. On the whole I think knowledge is preferable to ignorance, and I am sure human sympathy is more valuable than ideology. – Leo Tolstoy

Debates conceal rather than reveal the truth. Truth is revealed in solitude. – Leo Tolstoy

All happy families resemble one another, each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. – Leo Tolstoy

Love alone is the only reasonable activity or pursuit of humankind…. For Love not only annihilates our fear of meaninglessness but empowers us to seek the happiness of others. And this indeed is our greatest happiness. – Leo Tolstoy

Something magical has happened to me: like a dream when one feels frightened and creepy, and suddenly wakes up to the knowledge that no such terrors exist. I have wakened up. – Leo Tolstoy

In the name of God, stop a moment, cease your work, look around you. – Leo Tolstoy

Do not be sad about what you do not have. Instead, be happy about what you do have. If you will be sad about what you don’t have, you will not be happy about what you do have. – Leo Tolstoy

Dear Lord, what a madhouse the world is! – Leo Tolstoy

Many people have ideas on how others should change; few people have ideas on how they should change. – Leo Tolstoy

It is amazing how complete is the delusion that beauty is goodness. A handsome woman talks nonsense, you listen and hear not nonsense but cleverness. She says and does horrid things, and you see only charm. And if a handsome woman does not say stupid or horrid things, you at once persuade yourself that she is wonderfully clever and moral. – Leo Tolstoy

it’s much better to do good in a way that no one knows anything about it. – Leo Tolstoy

If you do not know your place in the world and the meaning of your life, you should know there is something to blame; and it is not the social system, or your intellect, but the way in which you have directed your intellect. – Leo Tolstoy

Never did Christ utter a single word attesting to a personal resurrection and a life beyond the grave. – Leo Tolstoy

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