Your attitude often will make all the difference in how you experience the events of your life. For some, their mindset is that if anything bad can happen, it will. For others, they take everything that comes to them - and somehow make even the worst of things beneficial. Their mindset is to take the proverbial lemons and life and turn them into lemonade.
We first read of the pessimist. "All the days of the afflicted are bad." This is the person who not only sees the glass as half empty - but who also figures that there are people who are working to make sure that it eventually empties further. They consider themselves afflicted - CONSTANTLY! They see themselves as "the afflicted" - which here is the word "aniy." This word means to be poor, oppressed, miserable, in constant want and need. It is a sad thing to watch someone like this because like the proverb states - they see every day as a bad day. These are the constant complainers. In church we would be tempted to ask them to lead in a word of complaint or criticism - rather than to ask for them to lead in prayer. They always seem to have a sad story to share - a problem that seems overwhelming - a way that they have been treated horribly - or something they see wrong. Don't misunderstand, there is a place for these things - and we do not need to squelch people's ability to share in difficult times. But the "afflicted" here never ceases to have something like this. To find them content and grateful for their lives - is next to impossible. They are always ready to be the grand marshall in the bummer parade!
The second half of this proverb contrasts another person. This is the one who has a "cheerful heart." Hebrews called this a "good" heart. It was someone who was happy, who was glad. They often chose to be happy, glad, delightful, and pleased. Their choice to be this way was a matter of their own heart. This is the person who simply chooses to be happy in their lives. They will look at difficulties and problems as opportunities to grow - or even better ways that God is working to conform them to His image. They see every situation as a potential wonderful thing God is working in their lives. They grasp that not eveything in life is going to be pleasant - but they take the same hard knocks that make the afflicted see every day as bad - and turn them into a reason to be thankful, grateful, and filled with joyeous expectation of what God is going to do to glorify Himself in every situation. They truly do understand that, "all things work together for good to those who love the Lord, and who live according to His purposes."
The Bible says that these folks - the cheerful ones - have a continual feast. They tend to be happy no matter what happens to them. They see God's providential hand in everything that happens to them. They are thrilled to watch Him do what only He can do - and are willing to wait for Him to act - even if it means a prolonged period of difficulty and trial. They take whatever God's sovereign hand gives them - and make it into a gourmet feast.
To be a cheerful, grateful person is far better than to be one of the continually afflicted. People want to be around the first person - and honestly - struggle with the second. It is not hard to be around someone who genuinely needs encouragement because they are having a tough time, but when someone is always seeming to have a tough time it becomes hard to know what to say. What often needs to be said is that the "afflicted" needs to see God as sovereign in all their affairs. They need to hear that God does work these things out for good - if they will allow Him to conform them to the image of His Son. They need to hear from the book of James that they are to consider it pure joy when they encounter various trials. God wants us to be joyful people - not miserable ones. Paul admonished the Philippians to rejoice in the Lord - and that to say that same thing to them was not a burden to him - but was indeed a protection to them. Joy is part of the inheritance given to every believer. This does not mean that we can never have hard times - but it does mean that if we see ourselves as the continually afflicted whose every day is bad - something is wrong with our perspective. The Lord does not want us living on the scraps of misery - but wants us to enjoy His presence, His perspective, and the continual feast that comes by being in His presence.