190 Leo Tolstoy Quotes on Love & Humanity

Here are the top 190 Leo Tolstoy quotes that we’ve rounded up from his most famous novels like Anna Karenina and War and Peace.

If there’s one thing we can note from Leo Tolstoy’s personality, it’s that he’s obsessed with self-improvement.

Throughout his life, he analyzed the mistakes he made daily and created a long list of rules which he strived to live by.

His life was not perfect, but through his writing, we see how he inserted bits and pieces of wisdom that will help us understand the art of living life.

Start reading the full list here.

And make sure to check out these Anton Chekhov quotes and Arthur Conan Doyle quotes.

Best Leo Tolstoy Quotes

Five Quotes That Could Change Every...
Five Quotes That Could Change Everything
Leo Tolstoy Quote - It is amazing how complete is the delusion that beauty is goodness.

1. “It is amazing how complete is the delusion that beauty is goodness.”

2. “In the name of God, stop a moment, cease your work, look around you.”

3. “Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.”

4. “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 Quote - He stepped down, trying not to look long at her, as if she were the sun, yet he saw her, like the sun, even without looking.

5. “He stepped down, trying not to look long at her, as if she were the sun, yet he saw her, like the sun, even without looking.”

6. “Rummaging in our souls, we often dig up something that ought to have lain there unnoticed.”

7. “Spring is the time of plans and projects.”

8. “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”

9. “If you want to be happy, be.”

Leo Tolstoy Quote - Respect was invented to cover the empty place where love should be.

10. “Respect was invented to cover the empty place where love should be.”

11. “When you love someone, you love the person as they are, and not as you’d like them to be.”

If you’re enjoying these quotes, make sure to read our collection of William Shakespeare quotes.

12. “Is it really possible to tell someone else what one feels?”

13. “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.”

14. “If you look for perfection, you’ll never be content.”

Leo Tolstoy Quote - Nothing is so necessary for a young man as the company of intelligent women.

15. “Nothing is so necessary for a young man as the company of intelligent women.”

Related: Fyodor Dostoevsky Quotes

16. “We can know only that we know nothing, and that is the highest degree of human wisdom.”

17. “Wrong does not cease to be wrong because the majority share in it.”

18. “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.”

19. “Death is finished. It is no more!”

Deep and Meaningful Leo Tolstoy Quotes

Leo Tolstoy Quote - Everything is, everything exists, only because I love.

20. “Everything is, everything exists, only because I love.”

21. “It’s much better to do good in a way that no one knows anything about.”

22. “The two most powerful warriors are patience and time.”

23. “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.”

24. “The best stories don’t come from ‘good vs. bad’ but ‘good vs. good.’”

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

25. “If everyone fought for their own convictions, there would be no war.”

26. “There is no greatness where there is no simplicity, goodness, and truth.”

27. “Happiness does not depend on outward things, but on the way we see them.”

28. “Love—the reason I dislike that word is that it means too much for me, far more than you can understand.”

29. “Anything is better than lies and deceit!”

Leo Tolstoy Quote - If you love me as you say you do, make it so that I am at peace.

30. “If you love me as you say you do, make it so that I am at peace.”

31. “Be bad, but at least don’t be a liar—a deceiver!”

32. “Muslims worship nothing except God and Muhammad is his Messenger. There is no mystery and secret in it.”

33. “They’ve got no idea what happiness is. They don’t know that without this love, there is no happiness or unhappiness for us—there is no life.”

34. “A man can live and be healthy without killing animals for food. Therefore, if he eats meat, he participates in taking animal life merely for the sake of his appetite. And to act so is immoral.”

Leo Tolstoy Quote - The whole world is divided for me into two parts.

35. “The whole world is divided for me into two parts—one is she, and there is all happiness, hope, light; the other is where she is not, and there is dejection and darkness.”

36. “All great literature is one of two stories—a man goes on a journey or a stranger comes to town.”

37. “All the variety, all the charm, all the beauty of life is made up of light and shadow.”

38. “Boredom—the desire for desires.”

39. “Pierre was right when he said that one must believe in the possibility of happiness in order to be happy, and I now believe in it.”

Leo Tolstoy Quote - Muhammad has always been standing higher than Christianity.

40. “Muhammad has always been standing higher than Christianity. He does not consider God as a human being and never makes himself equal to God.”

41. “Sometimes, she did not know what she feared or what she desired—whether she feared or desired what had been or what would be, and precisely what she desired, she did not know.”

42. “Let the dead bury the dead, but while I’m alive, I must live and be happy.”

43. “I always loved you, and if one loves anyone, one loves the whole person, just as they are and not as one would like them to be.”

44. “All the girls in the world were divided into two classes—one class included all the girls in the world except her, and they had all the usual human feelings and were very ordinary girls; while the other class—herself alone—had no weaknesses and was superior to all humanity.”

Leo Tolstoy Quote - It's not given to people to judge what's right or wrong.

45. “It’s not given to people to judge what’s right or wrong.”

46. “Love is life. All, everything that I understand, I understand only because I love.”

47. “People have eternally been mistaken and will be mistaken, and in nothing more than in what they consider right and wrong.”

48. “How often we sin, how much we deceive, and all for what? All will end in death—all!”

49. “Patience is waiting. Not passively waiting, that is laziness. But to keep going when the going is hard and slow—that is patience.”

Leo Tolstoy Quotes on Love and Humanity

Leo Tolstoy Quote - You can love a person dear to you with human love, but an enemy can only be loved with divine love.

50. “You can love a person dear to you with human love, but an enemy can only be loved with divine love.”

51. “But I’m glad you’ll see me as I am.”

52. “But the law of loving others could not be discovered by reason, because it is unreasonable.”

53. “It’s hard to love a woman and do anything.”

54. “I knew that feeling of love which is the essence of the soul, for which no object is needed. And I know that blissful feeling now, too.”

Leo Tolstoy Quote - What counts in making a happy marriage is not so much how compatible you are, but how you deal with incompatibility.

55. “What counts in making a happy marriage is not so much how compatible you are, but how you deal with incompatibility.”

56. “He felt now that he was not simply close to her, but that he did not know where he ended and she began.”

57. “To love one’s neighbours, to love one’s enemies, to love everything—to Love God in all His manifestations.”

58. “We are asleep until we fall in love!”

59. “Love those who hate you.”

Leo Tolstoy Quote - That was why I felt such joy when I felt that I loved that man.

60. “That was why I felt such joy when I felt that I loved that man.”

61. “He was afraid of defiling the love which filled his soul.”

62. “Loving with human love, one may pass from love to hatred; but divine love cannot change. Nothing—not even death—can shatter it.”

63. “I wanted movement and not a calm course of existence. I wanted excitement and danger, and the chance to sacrifice myself for my love.”

64. “Yes, love. But not the love that loves for something, to gain something, or because of something, but that love that I felt for the first time, when dying, I saw my enemy and yet loved him.”

Leo Tolstoy Quote - To get rid of an enemy, one must love him.

65. “To get rid of an enemy, one must love him.”

66. “Every heart has its own skeletons.”

67. “Here’s my advice to you—don’t marry until you can tell yourself that you’ve done all you could, and until you’ve stopped loving the woman you’ve chosen, until you see her clearly, otherwise you’ll be cruelly and irremediably mistaken.”

68. “Marry when you’re old and good for nothing. Otherwise, all that’s good and lofty in you will be lost.”

69. “He stepped down, avoiding any long look at her as one avoids long looks at the sun, but seeing her as one sees the sun, without looking.”

Leo Tolstoy Quote - Her heart was broken. Why would they try to cure her with pills and powders?

70. “Doctoring her seemed to her as absurd as putting together the pieces of a broken vase. Her heart was broken. Why would they try to cure her with pills and powders?”

71. drifting in different directions, and there’s no altering that.”

72. “He could not be mistaken. There were no other eyes like those in the world. There was only one creature in the world who could concentrate for him all the brightness and meaning of life.”

73. “And those who only know the non-platonic love have no need to talk of tragedy. In such love, there can be no sort of tragedy.”

74. “We love people not so much for the good they’ve done us, as for the good we’ve done them.”

Leo Tolstoy Quote - Energy rests upon love; and come as it will, there's no forcing it.

75. “Energy rests upon love; and come as it will, there’s no forcing it.”

76. “Human beings are like rivers; the water is one and the same in all of them but every river is narrow in some places, flows swifter in others; here it is broad, there still, or clear, or cold, or muddy or warm.”

77. “Every man bears within him the germs of every human quality, and now manifests one, now another, and frequently is quite unlike himself, while still remaining the same man.”

78. “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.”

79. “The only happy marriages I know are arranged ones.”

Leo Tolstoy Quotes on Life

Leo Tolstoy Quote - Above all, I wouldn't want people to think that I want to prove anything.

80. “Above all, I wouldn’t want people to think that I want to prove anything.”

81. “True life is lived when tiny changes occur.”

82. “If we admit that human life can be ruled by reason, then all possibility of life is destroyed.”

83. “I often think that men don’t understand what is noble and what is ignorant, though they always talk about it.”

84. “I simply want to live—to cause no evil to anyone but myself.”

Leo Tolstoy Quote - 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.

85. “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 woken up.”

86. “Whatever our fate is or may be, we have made it and do not complain of it.”

87. “Because of the self-confidence with which he had spoken, no one could tell whether what he said was very clever or very stupid.”

88. “Man cannot possess anything as long as he fears death. But to him who does not fear it, everything belongs. If there was no suffering, man would not know his limits, would not know himself.”

89. “There are no conditions to which a person cannot grow accustomed, especially if he sees that everyone around him lives in the same way.”

Leo Tolstoy Quote - Life did not stop, and one had to live.

90. “Life did not stop, and one had to live.”

91. “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.”

92. “A Frenchman’s self-assurance stems from his belief that he is mentally and physically irresistibly fascinating to both men and women.”

93. “An Englishman’s self-assurance is founded on his being a citizen of the best organized state in the world and on the fact that, as an Englishman, he always knows what to do, and that whatever he does as an Englishman is unquestionably correct.”

94. “An Italian is self-assured because he is excitable and easily forgets.”

Leo Tolstoy Quote - A Russian is self-assured simply because he knows nothing and does not want to know anything, since he does not believe in the possibility of knowing anything fully.

95. “A Russian is self-assured simply because he knows nothing and does not want to know anything, since he does not believe in the possibility of knowing anything fully.”

96. “Can it be that I have not lived as one ought? But how is it not so, when I’ve done everything as it should be done?”

97. “Here I am, alive, and it’s not my fault. So I have to try and get by as best I can without hurting anybody until death takes over.”

98. “One must be cunning and wicked in this world.”

99. “I am always with myself, and it is I who am my tormentor.”

Leo Tolstoy Quote - There is a tiny and brilliant light burning in the heart of man that will not go out no matter how dark the world becomes.

100. “There is something in the human spirit that will survive and prevail. There is a tiny and brilliant light burning in the heart of man that will not go out no matter how dark the world becomes.”

101. “In the midst of winter, I find within me the invisible summer.”

102. “There will be today, there will be tomorrow, there will be always, and there was yesterday, and there was the day before.”

103. “Everything comes in time to him who knows how to wait.”

104. “Ivan Ilych’s life had been most simple and most ordinary, and therefore, most terrible.”

Leo Tolstoy Quote - But there was no life, for there were no wishes the fulfilment of which I could consider reasonable.

105. “My life came to a standstill. I could breathe, eat, drink and sleep, and I could not help doing these things; but there was no life, for there were no wishes the fulfilment of which I could consider reasonable.”

106. “I could not even wish to know the truth, for I guess of what it consisted of—the truth was that life is meaningless.”

107. “We are all created to be miserable, and that we all know it, and all invent means of deceiving each other. And when one sees the truth, what is one to do?”

108. “I did not myself know what I wanted—I feared life, desired to escape from it, yet still hoped for something of it.”

109. “I ask for the right to hope, to suffer as I do. But if even that cannot be, command me to disappear, and I disappear. You shall not see me if my presence is distasteful to you.”

Leo Tolstoy Quotes on Happiness and Desires

Leo Tolstoy Quote - He soon felt that the fulfillment of his desires gave him only one grain of the mountain of happiness he had expected.

110. “He soon felt that the fulfillment of his desires gave him only one grain of the mountain of happiness he had expected.”

111. “This fulfillment showed him the eternal error men make in imagining that their happiness depends on the realization of their desires.”

112. “Seize the moments of happiness—love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here.”

113. “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.”

114. “I’m like a starving man who has been given food. Maybe he’s cold, and his clothes are torn, and he’s ashamed, but he’s not unhappy.”

Leo Tolstoy Quote - How can one be well when one suffers morally?

115. “How can one be well when one suffers morally?”

116. “He looked at her as a man might look at a faded flower he had plucked, in which it was difficult for him to trace the beauty that had made him pick and so destroy it.”

117. “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.’”

118. “Music is the shorthand of emotion.”

119. “Happiness is an allegory, unhappiness a story.”

Leo Tolstoy Quote - Pure and complete sorrow is as impossible as pure and complete joy.

120. “Pure and complete sorrow is as impossible as pure and complete joy.”

121. “God is the same everywhere.”

122. “In the best, the friendliest, and simplest relations, flattery or praise is necessary, just as grease is necessary to keep wheels turning.”

123. “Enough or not, it will have to do.”

124. “Music seems to me to act like yawning or laughter; I have no desire to sleep, but I yawn when I see others yawn; with no reason to laugh, I laugh when I hear others laugh.”

Leo Tolstoy Quote - Music transports me immediately into the condition of the soul in which he who wrote the music found himself at that time.

125. “Music transports me immediately into the condition of the soul in which he who wrote the music found himself at that time.”

126. “There can be no peace for us—only misery and the greatest happiness.”

127. “All that day, she had had the feeling that she was playing in the theatre with actors better than herself and that her poor playing spoiled the whole thing.”

128. “She smiled at him, and at her own fears.”

129. “Friends we shall never be, you know that yourself. Whether we shall be the happiest or the wretchedest of people—that’s in your hands.”

Leo Tolstoy Quote - The most important pursuit is making that person - the one standing at your side - happy, for that alone is the pursuit of life.

130. “The most important pursuit is making that person—the one standing at your side—happy, for that alone is the pursuit of life.”

131. “He liked fishing and seemed to take pride in being able to like such a stupid occupation.”

132. “Am I mad to see what others do not see, or are they mad who are responsible for all that I am seeing?”

133. “Teach French and unteach sincerity.”

134. “One can no more approach people without love than one can approach bees without care.”

Leo Tolstoy Quote - A battle is won by him who is firmly resolved to win it.

135. “A battle is won by him who is firmly resolved to win it.”

136. “Life is too long to say anything definitely; always say perhaps.”

137. “False. Everything by which you have lived and live now is all a deception—a lie, concealing both life and death from you.”

138. “I think that to find out what love is really like, one must first make a mistake and then put it right.”

139. “The more he did nothing, the less time he had to do anything.”

Inspiring Leo Tolstoy Quotes

Leo Tolstoy Quote - Truth, like gold, is to be obtained not by its growth, but by washing away from it all that is not gold.

140. “Truth, like gold, is to be obtained not by its growth, but by washing away from it all that is not gold.”

141. “He did what heroes do after their work is accomplished—he died.”

142. “The higher a man stands on the social ladder, the greater the number of people he is connected with. The more power he has over other people, the more obvious is the predestination and inevitability of his every action.”

143. “For if we allow that human life is always guided by reason, we destroy the premise that life is possible at all.”

144. “You will die, and everything will end. You will die and learn everything, or stop asking.”

Leo Tolstoy Quote - And where love ends, hate begins.

145. “And where love ends, hate begins.”

146. “While there is life, there is happiness. There is much, much before us.”

147. “One must live for the needs of the day. In other words, become oblivious.”

148. “So many men, so many minds, certainly so many hearts, so many kinds of love.”

149. “It’s too easy to criticize a man when he’s out of favour, and to make him shoulder the blame for everybody else’s mistakes.”

Leo Tolstoy Quote - But that's the whole aim of civilization - to make everything a source of enjoyment.

150. “But that’s the whole aim of civilization—to make everything a source of enjoyment.”

151. “In order to understand, observe, and deduce, man must first be conscious of himself as alive.”

152. “History would be a wonderful thing—if it were only true.”

153. “I don’t allow myself to doubt myself even for a moment.”

154. “You speak to me in words and I look at you with feelings.”

Leo Tolstoy Quote - I can't think of you and myself apart. You and I are the same to me.

155. “I can’t think of you and myself apart. You and I are the same to me.”

156. “For a few seconds, they looked silently into each other’s eyes, and the distant and impossible suddenly became near, possible, and inevitable.”

157. “I am not strange, but I feel queer. I am like that sometimes. I feel like crying all the time. It is very silly, but it will pass.”

158. “One of the first conditions of happiness is that the link between Man and Nature shall not be broken.”

159. “What is bad? What is good? What should one love, what hate? Why live, and what am I? What is a lie? What is death? What power rules over everything?”

Wise and Insightful Leo Tolstoy Quotes

Leo Tolstoy Quote - 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.

160. “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.”

161. “Not one word, not one gesture of yours shall I ever forget.”

162. “She had no need to ask why he had come. She knew as certainly as if he had told her that he was here to be where she was.”

163. “Everything intelligent is so boring.”

164. “Human science fragments everything in order to understand it, kills everything in order to examine it.”

Leo Tolstoy Quote - It's all God's will - you can die in your sleep, and God can spare you in battle.

165. “It’s all God’s will—you can die in your sleep, and God can spare you in battle.”

166. “Which is worse? The wolf who cries before eating the lamb or the wolf who does not?”

167. “Instead of going to Paris to attend lectures, go to the public library, and you won’t come out for twenty years, if you really wish to learn.”

168. “The only absolute knowledge attainable by man is that life is meaningless.”

169. “Everything depends on upbringing.”

Leo Tolstoy Quote - Kings are the slaves of history.

170. “Kings are the slaves of history.”

171. “To tell the truth is very difficult, and young people are rarely capable of it.”

172. “And you know, there’s less charm in life when you think about death, but it’s more peaceful.”

173. “My principal sin is doubt. I doubt everything, and am in doubt most of the time.”

174. “Historians are like deaf people who go on answering questions that no one has asked them.”

Leo Tolstoy Quote - Music makes me forget my real situation. It transports me into a state which is not my own.

175. “Music makes me forget my real situation. It transports me into a state which is not my own.”

176. “And not only the pride of intellect, but the stupidity of intellect. And, above all, the dishonesty, yes, the dishonesty of intellect. Yes, indeed, the dishonesty and trickery of intellect.”

177. “You say I am not free, but I have raised and lowered my arm. Everyone understands that this illogical answer is an irrefutable proof of freedom.”

178. “To educate the peasantry, three things are needed—schools, schools, and schools.”

179. “Writing laws is easy, but governing is difficult.”

Leo Tolstoy Quote - The business of art lies just in this - to make that understood and felt which, in the form of an argument, might be incomprehensible and inaccessible.

180. “The business of art lies just in this—to make that understood and felt which, in the form of an argument, might be incomprehensible and inaccessible.”

181. “Just as a painter needs light in order to put the finishing touches to his picture, so I need an inner light, which I feel I never have enough of in the autumn.”

182. “Remember that there is only one important time and it is now. The present moment is the only time over which we have dominion.”

183. “The most important person is always the person with whom you are, who is right before you, for who knows if you will have dealings with any other person in the future?”

184. “In infinite time, in infinite matter, in infinite space, a bubble organism is formed, and that bubble lasts a while and bursts, and that bubble is me.”

Leo Tolstoy Quote - Life is everything. Life is God. Everything shifts and moves, and this movement is God.

185. “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.”

186. “Every man and every living creature has a sacred right to the gladness of springtime.”

187. “The pleasure lies not in discovering truth, but in searching for it.”

188. “It’s different for you and me. You study, you become enlightened. I study, I become confused.”

189. “A man’s every action is inevitably conditioned by what surrounds him and by his own body.”

Leo Tolstoy Quote - If goodness has causes, it is not goodness.

190. “If goodness has causes, it is not goodness. If it has effects and a reward, it is not goodness either. So goodness is outside the chain of cause and effect.”

How Do You Define a Happy and Successful Life?

For some, ultimate success means having all the luxuries the world can offer within their reach. And being born into aristocracy, there was a time when Leo Tolstoy lived a rather decadent lifestyle. However, because of an open mind and his empathy, he was able to see the downsides of the kind of lifestyle he had. He turned to writing to share his experiences and the lessons he learned throughout life. Through his legacy and classics like Anna Karenina and War and Peace, we’re able to see a glimpse of his struggles against his personal demons. And it is through his works that we learn the art of simple living—to live for oneself and for one’s purpose instead of material things and desires.

Which of the quotes in this collection was your favorite? Are there any other writers or books you’d like us to make a collection on? If you do, please don’t forget to leave a comment down below.