It's a a shame that in our culture, being broke and unemployed with no future is often equated with being a loser.
People who used to identify success and happiness with material possessions and the ability to acquire them at whim, are understandably having problems dealing with prevailing economic setbacks.
Upon having their credit declined at the apple store when attempting to buy the newest iPhone, some have spiraled into depressions so deep, only a lexapro/klonopin cocktail can help them. Sadly, these people are usually the ones who gave up their health insurance a few months ago to buy the last lastest iPhone. As a result, a large portion of the population could descend into a black hole of despair that's not only fiscal, but mental.
Fortunately, all it takes is a slight shift in attitude and behaviors to turn the stigma of being broke, into an attribute to be admired.
The Gandhi manuever
Say you used to dress in the latest from the haute designers and now everything you own is so hopelessly two months ago you've gone into hiding. Find an old sheet and wear it Gandhi style. Tell anyone who will listen that it suddenly occurred to you that all those ridiculously expensive designer clothes ultimately brought you no happiness and were merely expensive cover ups for a gaping hole in your spirit. If you see someone wearing the Christian Leboutin shoes that you would have coveted before you found your soul, mention that for the same price, the proud owner could feed a starving Somalian family for a year. See how quickly you can re-spin your poverty into moral superiority. And it's not like a vow of poverty is irrevocable. If you ever get your financial bearings back, you can start shopping for the hottest designer sheets and matching accessories.
Now that you have nothing better to do, volunteering for a worthy non-profit organization is a great way to network, add to your resume and appear to give a damn about people less fortunate than yourself (link to list of worthy non-profits). Tell everyone that you're tired of working for the big corporate machine, chasing the dollar to feed your shallow addictions and you want to pursue an area where you can really make a positive impact on the world. Choose an organization that you either feel passionately about, or one that confers status on you. If you're opposed to manual labor, find a volunteer project that utilizes your preferred skill set and requires lots of dinner meetings. If you miraculously find gainful employment while you're in the middle of a project, you can always bail at the last minute. They'll understand that your new job will keep you incredibly busy shopping for new work clothes.
Repeat after me: "I'm not living in a tree because I got evicted due to non-payment of rent/forclosed on. I'm living in a tree to make an environmental statement because I'm socially and environmentally aware and I have the balls to DO something about it."
The pros of tree sitting: Free rent. No utility bills. Well-meaning environmentalists will bring you food (free food.)
The cons of tree sitting: Free food is usually vegan. In other to maintain your integrity of an activist, you've got to stay up there. It can get pretty boring. But during daylight hours you'll have plenty of time to do some research and learn why sitting in a tree contributes to the environment.
Nothing is easier than spinning your newly acquired poverty into socially conscious altruism once you get the hang of it. Here are a few things you need to tell yourself in order to begin the transformation.
Your electricity is off because you're tired of being held hostage to the energy companies.
You've started taking public transportation to reduce your carbon footprint and to experience life amongst the masses.
You're boycotting Wall Street by not using your credit cards (no need to mention they've all been cancelled)
You've eschewed personal grooming in order to shed the superficialities that society has imposed on you and focus on developing your inner beauty. Or just complain how all the grooming products are animal cruel, environmentally bad or owned by an evil corporation.