"All the days of the afflicted are bad, but a cheerful heart has a continual feast"
This is a huge verse regarding the importance of attitude in our lives for our attitude controls everything about our lives.
This is the Hebrew word ani which means afflicted, poor, distressed, or disabled. The root meaning of this word is to be forced into submission; to be punished or have pain inflicted upon you; to be put into the humbled, stunted position. We might call it, today, to be oppressed, downtrodden.
This is the Hebrew word tob which means good. This idea of good means beneficial, doing the right things, giving to others rather than selfishly oriented only to yourself.
It is clear that this proverb is about attitude because it compares the afflicted person's view of his/her life with the person with a good heart or soul.
If you believe that you are always being oppressed or afflicted, then all your days will be bad. In other words, if the way you see life is that people are always out to get you and everyone seems to be against you, then you will see all of life as bad. But you don't have to see it that way. That is only one way of seeing what is happening to you. Instead you can see your life as an opportunity to be good and from within your limited ability and sphere, you can do good. If you have this attitude, then you will have a continual feast.
What is amazing about this proverb is that this is exactly true – the person who does good things and looks for benefit that can be done for others is constantly being rewarded. The rewards are sometimes material but also emotional, relational, mental, spiritual, etc.
The person who views life as just one more way to hold them back has a tough time because in a sin-broken world there are a lot of negative things that can happen to any of us. But when you take a subjective, selfish perspective about life in general, then it all begins to close in on you; and it seems that everyone is not just being selfish, but that they are actually trying to hold you down.