Being in existential poverty means living in a state of, or near, persistent material poverty while also being socially excluded, marginalized, or disadvantaged. It is a life-disempowering experience, one that privileges both immediacy over the future, and welfare over work. This results in learned helplessness, manifesting as a lack of will to take control of life. The existentialist explanation is that those in this mental state do not have an authentic way of life. Positive Psychology, and its offshoot, Positive Organizational Behavior, provide the cognitive change strategies that focus on building in people their sense of self-efficacy, optimism, hope, resilience, and subjective well-being, as well as their emotional intelligence, all of which are mental attributes that have demonstrable positive impacts on human performance. This can enable people to pursue gainful, meaningful, and sustained self-actualizing vocation, so lifting them out of persistent material poverty. The public policy challenges are (1) to determine whether it is in the public interest to redress the negative agental consequences of welfare dependency; (2) to redesign the features of social assistance programs that exacerbate learned helplessness amongst beneficiaries; and (3) to determine how best to reduce the psychologically incapacitating effects of welfare dependency.