We are miserable as we think that happiness is something it is not
The blind perversity of our misery is lamentable indeed. Although we desire happiness ardently, not only do we not do those things by which we may obtain our desire but rather, with contrary disaffection, take steps to add to our misery. In my opinion, we would never do this, if a false image of happiness were not deceiving us, or a semblance of real misery frightening us off from happiness. Does anyone not see that poverty, grief, hunger, and thirst are no slight part of misery? Yet through them real misery is frequently averted and eternal happiness pursued.
Under the hue of happiness we grasp at real unhappiness, the false joy which does not escape real sorrow, preferring that to the misery which presages true happiness. We are like sick persons who earnestly hope to recover but because of the immediate pain shun an amputation or dread cauterization.
We are miserable, or deceived, as long as we think that happiness is something it is not, or are allured by the agreeableness of present things that fool us. We get used to misery, and indeed never lose our longing for happiness; and, as if struggling unhappily in this circle, never rest.
Aelred of Rievaulx