There is a growing body of evidence that negative emotions — hate, anger, jealousy, stress — can be bad for your health. While such feelings are a normal part of life, hanging on to them, dwelling on slights, either real or imaginary, can upset our brain chemistry, our immune system, even our physical well-being.

But we do not need to hold on to such emotions. There are ways to get rid of stress and negativity, including exercise, meditation and, perhaps most powerfully, forgiveness.

Last week Teton County witnessed an extraordinary act of forgiveness when Melanie Harrice, whose husband, Bob Arndt, was killed June 30 in a head-on collision with a drunk driver, stood up in court during Rudy Isla-Mejico’s sentencing and begged the judge to have mercy on him.

Then, before retaking her seat, she approached Isla-Mejico, kissed him on both cheeks and wrapped him in her arms. (See page 12A for more on the sentencing hearing.)

It may be that there is something about Harrice that allowed her to forgive the man who tore her life apart last summer. But it’s also possible to learn to forgive and to practice forgiveness. Johns Hopkins School of Medicine even offers a prescription of sorts: Reflect and remember; empathize with the other person; forgive deeply; let go of expectations; decide to forgive; and forgive yourself (visit http://Bit.ly/2zVZPQB to read an article by Johns Hopkins’ Karen Swartz).

In the United States and all around the world countries and communities are experience divisiveness. It often seems that every person falls into two distinct camps — those who agree with us and those who do not — and that it is virtually impossible to reconcile our reality with that of the others.

But if we are going to come through these trying times, if we are going to live in unity and relative peace, it’s vital that we listen, that we reflect, that we take responsibility for our feelings and try to imagine the feelings of others.

If Melanie Harrice can forgive her husband’s killer, certainly we can forgive each other for lesser things said or done.

The editorial represents the opinion of the News&Guide’s editorial board: Editors Johanna Love, Richard Anderson, publishers Kevin Olson, Adam Meyer.

The editorial represents the opinion of the News&Guide’s editorial board: Editors Johanna Love, Richard Anderson, publishers Kevin Olson, Adam Meyer.

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