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Leo Tolstoy Quotes on Life, Peace & Inspiration

These quotes by Leo Tolstoy are familiar (they are quoted regularly!) and inspiring.

Count Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy, aka ‘Leo Tolstoy’ (1828 – 1910), was a Russian writer whose most famous works include the novels ‘War and Peace‘ and ‘Anna Karenina‘.

To this day, he is still regarded as one of the world’s greatest authors.

What was Leo Tolstoy’s philosophy?

Leo Tolstoy’s main philosophy was that every person should work towards a noble life. Tolstoy experienced a moral crisis with his aristocratic upbringing and lifestyle – questioning his religious beliefs and leading him to become a Christian anarchist and pacifist.

As a staunch pacifist, Tolstoy believed that violence and war were horrible things, and his thoughts on the subject are expressed in his novels. Tolstoy held heavy criticism for Government and deemed them unjust, greedy and deceitful.

Why was Leo Tolstoy Inspiring?

You don’t have to have read his books to see why Tolstoy was and still is inspiring.

Despite his criticisms of the monarchy, aristocracy and government, Tolstoy’s works have been loved by readers for many years. His inspirational words and quotes provide hope and encourage self-reliance, optimism and equality. He shared wise words about life, love and peace. Enjoy.

Leo Tolstoy Quotes About Life


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


“Perhaps it’s because I appreciate all I have so much that I don’t worry about what I haven’t got.” Leo Tolstoy


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


“If you want to be happy, be.” Tolstoy Leo


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


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


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


“One of the first conditions of happiness is that the link between man and nature shall not be broken.” Leo Tolstoy


“Without knowing what I am and why I am here, life is impossible.” Leo Tolstoy


“We can know only that we know nothing. And that is the highest degree of human wisdom.” Leo Tolstoy


“The changes in our life must come from the impossibility to live otherwise than according to the demands of our conscience not from our mental resolution to try a new form of life.” Leo Tolstoy

*This one often requires reading a few times to really sink in!



“We lost because we told ourselves we lost.” Leo Tolstoy


“There is no greatness where there is not simplicity, goodness, and truth.” Leo Tolstoy


“Joy can only be real if people look upon their life as a service and have a definite object in life outside themselves and their personal happiness.” Leo Tolstoy


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


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


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


“Faith is the sense of life, that sense by virtue of which man does not destroy himself, but continues to live on. It is the force whereby we live.” Leo Tolstoy


“True life is lived when tiny changes occur.” 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


“Boredom: the desire for desires.” Leo Tolstoy


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


“Music is the shorthand of emotion.” Leo Tolstoy


“If everyone fought for their own convictions there would be no war.” Leo Tolstoy


“In all history there is no war which was not hatched by the governments, the governments alone, independent of the interests of the people, to whom war is always pernicious even when successful.” Leo Tolstoy


Leo Tolstoy Quotes on Love


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


“I think… if it is true that there are as many minds as there are heads, then there are as many kinds of love as there are hearts.” Leo Tolstoy


“All, everything that I understand, I understand only because I love.” 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


“And all people live, not by reason of any care they have for themselves, But by the love for them that is in other people.” 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


“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


Tolstoy Quotes on Family


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


“Let us forgive each other – only then will we live in peace.” Leo Tolstoy


Tolstoy Quotes on Government, War & Peace


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


“In all history there is no war which was not hatched by the governments, the governments alone, independent of the interests of the people, to whom war is always pernicious even when successful.” Leo Tolstoy


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


“The greater the state, the more wrong and cruel its patriotism, and the greater is the sum of suffering upon which its power is founded.” Leo Tolstoy


“The law condemns and punishes only actions within certain definite and narrow limits; it thereby justifies, in a way, all similar actions that lie outside those limits.” Leo Tolstoy


“Since corrupt people unite amongst themselves to constitute a force, then honest people must do the same.” Leo Tolstoy


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