Truth is an increasingly tarnished notion in a world filled with distortions and outright lies. Being true to yourself is important and it’s difficult to maintain that kind of self-authenticity when we are being inauthentic with others.

It is worth noting just how highly some of the most important figures in world history have valued the truth. This extends both to being honest with those around us as well as honest with ourselves, to say nothing of telling the truth when it is difficult.

The last part might be the hardest. When people talk about “honesty” they often refer to the little interactions we make on a daily basis. While this can be difficult at times, it is nothing compared to telling a necessary but difficult truth at a time when all the cards are stacked against you. This is what requires true moral courage—to tell the truth when one has skin in the game.

But by telling the truth in the little things we can train ourselves to tell the big truths when they matter the most. Read on to learn why some of the greatest minds of human history valued the truth so highly and why they considered telling uncomfortable truths to be of paramount importance.

Quotes About Honesty


John Steinbeck quote on honesty


“Can you honestly love a dishonest thing?”

– John Steinbeck, The Winter of Our Discontent


Truman Capote quote on honesty


“The answer is good things only happen to you if you’re good. Good? Honest is more what I mean…Be anything but a coward, a pretender, an emotional crook, a whore: I’d rather have cancer than a dishonest heart.”

– Truman Capote, Breakfast at Tiffany’s


Mark Twain quote on honesty


“Honesty: The best of all the lost arts.”

– Mark Twain


Mark Twain quote on honesty


“There’s one way to find out if a man is honest: ask him; if he says yes, you know he’s crooked.”

– Mark Twain


Noel Coward quote on honesty


“It’s discouraging to think how many people are shocked by honesty and how few by deceit.”

– Noël Coward, Blithe Spirit


Louisa May Alcott quote on honesty


“Simple, genuine goodness is the best capital to found the business of this life upon. It lasts when fame and money fail, and is the only riches we can take out of this world with us.”

– Louisa May Alcott, Little Men


Lincoln quote on honesty


“I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true. I am not bound to succeed, but I am bound to live up to what light I have.”

– Abraham Lincoln


Immanuel Kant quote on honesty


“Seek not the favor of the multitude; it is seldom got by honest and lawful means. But seek the testimony of few; and number not voices, but weigh them.”

– Immanuel Kant


T. Jefferson quote on honesty


“Honesty is the first chapter of the book wisdom.”

– Thomas Jefferson


Chinese proverb quote on honesty


“Avoid suspicion: when you’re walking through your neighbor’s melon patch, don’t tie your shoe.”

– Chinese proverb