You may have noticed that the study of Stoicism involves a drastic reduction in what one needs to focus on or worry about. The practicing stoic needn’t obsess about the future or the past. They don’t need to be made insecure about the material possessions or successes of others, or have to submit to the whims of destructive emotions. Not like other people, anyway.
The result of this paring down—the absence of the traits that define so much of the rest of the population—is the payoff. As Epictetus says, the result is peace, courage, and above all, liberty. That’s why we’re doing this. We’re not studying philosophy for a lark, but so that we can reap the rewards inherent in wisdom. When Rousseau said that man is born free but lives in chains, he knew that most of those chains are self-imposed. Philosophy is a way to break out of those shackles.
Wisdom—even a tiny bit—is clarity. Clarity is freedom.